Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Friday, July 04, 2014

Searching and Finding

One of the most eye opening parts of leaving the cult in which we were so deeply entrenched for nearly a decade was the gradually blossoming realization that there was a distinct possibility the manner in which we were stringently taught to interpret and apply Scripture was not only unusual (we already knew it was different, that was part of what made us special, the last faithful remnant an all that jazz) but perhaps even fatefully flawed. 

I remember vividly directing sincere Biblical questions toward our leadership (whom we were very close with) and being told, "you think too much."

But that was just it.

I couldn't stop thinking.

And eventually, I decided though it would carry us to a contrary position, where we no longer believed All The Truths We Held So Dearly, where we would lose each of our friends and our entire social network and our Once Convinced Sure Footing in The Center of God's Will, thinking was good. It was healthy. It was sincere and honest and I craved something more than blind following arrogant knowingness.

I longed for the God I felt like I read about in the Bible. The one who shocked me when he didn't allow Moses into The Promised Land. The one who sent the angel of death to the door of the Egyptians. The one who used Gideon even when his faith sorely lacked and Peter though his fear momentarily overrode his resolve. The one who watched Japheth's daughter offer her sacrifice. The one who gave Hannah a baby she would not raise. The one who conversed with the devil and seemed to toy with Job's life. The one who leveled Jericho with the sound of the trumpet, the one who saw Steven stoned to death for his belief. The one who used Deborah, Ruth, Esther, to serve his purposes in a male dominated cultural era. The one who would choose a man like Saul, a persecutor of the saints, to shoulder such a great responsibility as writing the Epistles to his brand new church. The one who sent Jesus. Jesus, who was sometimes full of tenderness and compassion and sometimes heavily confrontational. Jesus, who seemed to break all the rules yet stand unified, One with God Almighty. Jesus, who was often surprising, doing things that were sometimes difficult to fathom, like the God I loved to ponder.

The God I couldn't compartmentalize, or explain away with a handful of trite phrases intended to maintain a tidy and secure faith I could claim to have a firm grip upon.

I began looking at Scripture with new eyes. Ones that no longer made room for simple explanations, this means such and such. Period.

It was wonderful and fascinating to begin to finally experience the freedom to think. To find God larger, more vast and broad than I had ever imagined, where I didn't have to understand and explain all His ways. Where He could be mysterious and too big to have to answer to some religious group's fervent desire to capsulize him into a form we could easily swallow.

Maybe all those verses we explained away with the intellect of our minds and the obedience to think what we were taught had alternate ways of viewing them.

This was an enlivening, humbling and emboldening and awakening recognition to me.

Immediately upon our departure, we found a mainstream, non denominational, evangelical church to make home. It was a wonderful place, full of comfort and kindness and new friendships.

Where our cult was rather harsh and confrontational, our new church was gentle and accommodating. It was a breath of fresh air. Lacking experience with any type of typical church setting save the Catholic school upbringing of my youth, I found church a healing balm to my wounded soul. Though in the cult they taught me churches were basically evil, I loved it there. Their brand of "evil" warmed my broken heart.

And still, over time, I realized, I didn't find myself mainstream there either.

The questions still lingered. I recoiled at many of the Acceptable Answers I Was Supposed to Believe. The lingo and catch phrases and consolations spoken in lieu of apparent rational thought made me want to crawl out of my skin. In some ways, it reminded me of the cult that had irrevocably scarred my trust.

I began to awaken to the reality that I may not be a Conservative Republican after all. That I might not believe inter country adoption is a suitable answer whatsoever to the orphan crisis, that though I personally, passionately mourn my husband's sterilization and wish beyond all regret that we had allowed ourselves a unhindered quiver full, birth control and abortion are intricately complicated matters to sort through and that if we really believed in all the bits of the Bible, wouldn't we all be fruitful and multiply to God's content rather than just railing on abortion? After pulling 2 children from their country of birth to raise here, I questioned the ethical purity of this church lauded option and the authenticity of my motivations for doing such a thing. I took the Bible off the throne of worship where I once held it and started to see its magnificence and usefulness in a new, less rigid light.

I questioned the simplicity offered as the single road to salvation. I became friends with a homosexual young man who loved God like I did. I met, learned from, and truly loved a Hindu grandmother from India who taught me so much about devout, unwavering faith. I worked for an Atheist Persian family who showed me more about graciousness and generosity and decency and kindness and humility than I had ever previously known. I wasn't willing to damn them to hell.

Today, here I sit in the tension of not knowing and growing far more comfortable with it than I ever thought I would.

I used to have answers for everything, The Right Way To Look At Things.

Now, I kind of revel in looking at them from different angles.

God is so big, so vast, so great and beyond my pea brain's ability to fully comprehend, by any stretch of the imagination. I like that. He is my unsearchable maker, that I love to search, outside my realm of knowing, yet tenderly known.

I've decided to rip my religious labels off and be at home with that.

And I've learned enough about myself to know, forever a searcher is probably where you'll find me.

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