Category Archives: Beautiful Beginnings

Revealing the Real Me

Some of you, back when I first started writing as Chryssie, mentioned wanting to know where my other blog was. Well, this is the post where I reveal who I really am.

I created Chryssie back in September last year because I needed a safe outlet, a safe place where I could write about the deep struggles my heart, faith, and beliefs were going through. I needed Chryssie to be my second face, me without my name to give me away. She has filled her role well, and as I continue to clean out the cobwebs from my past, it is time to put Chryssie Rose to rest. She will always be a part of me, though. She will always be the reminder that I was stronger than I thought and she helped me realize that.

Where am I at now?

I now write over at Profligate Truth. I have really stepped into my voice and I am loving the freedom it is bringing me as I continue to write with strength, conviction, and expose the truth of what I’ve been through and where I’m going. Please take the time to go check the real me out! I will most likely be combining this blog with PT in the coming weeks. But, before I do that, I want to take a little bit of time to thank everyone who found my blog and helped me find the strength to speak out. All of you who have followed this blog, liked my posts, commented, and let me guest post made a huge difference. Trust me, without you all, I would never had found the strength to believe in myself and my voice. So Thank You. 


The cross this…the cross that…

Shortly before my family started attending a SGM church just over four years ago, a friend of mine pulled me aside and expressed grave concern that we were going to be joining this church. She kept mentioning something about the church and organization heavily steeped in only focusing on the Cross. It is the cross this, and the cross that, she told me. I didn’t really pay attention and brushed her off. I didn’t give any credit to her words, partially because I had, and still do, some broken trust with her. But mainly, I didn’t believe her because of I hadn’t picked up on what she was talking about, and I really didn’t know what she was talking about either.

When I joined the church as my own member, I was asked what the gospel is. I stuttered and stammered feeling pressured to know, but I couldn’t answer. The pastor residing over my membership interview told me that it (the gospel) could be summed up in 5 words. “Jesus Died For My Sins.” One word for each finger on one hand. Easy, straight to the point, totally encompassing right? No. I can see it now, and even though I blindly sucked up everything I heard and didn’t think to question anything, that one-liner is not quite right. It’s only a part, a very small part, and I saw the cross/sin obsessed church in a clearer light at the Christmas Eve service my husband and I attended.

The past year has brought a lot of changes to how I view my faith, my church-life, and my relationships with other believers/unbelievers. I have stripped myself of ALL labels and am just now slowly coming to terms with my bible again. I still stumble over words like “blessing,” “blessed,” and I find myself cringing when anyone says a very Christian-ese term such as, “All by God’s grace.” I can barely help the sneer that creeps on my face and the shudder that washes over me. I cannot read things that I have written years ago and that are full of praises to Jesus and spiritually emotional. Reading those things reminds of the pain I went through, and the hypocrisy I have faced in the presence of my dad. In a way I mourn those old poems and writings because they were written by such a naive and innocent little girl. I mourn the innocence I used to possess and the bliss of not questioning. I grieve the days when I didn’t doubt the teachings I got from my dad or other men who were around me.  Even though I know I can never go back, I am very aware of how much I have benefited from questioning, from doubting, and from being unwilling to be stagnant. I am willing to challenge anything I hear, and even though I am not 100% what I believe in most things, I am slowly figuring things out. and that is completely okay.

Through challenging my faith and shedding the things I can’t stand by, I have had a clearer view on the things that I don’t agree with at our old SGM church. Namely, their obsession with each other’s sin and the cross. I have learned that if there is one part of the cross, grave, and resurrection that I want to speak about the most, it would be the resurrection.  The three parts of Jesus’ sacrifice are all important, but I chose to focus on his resurrection. He bore my sins on the cross, and faced rejection from his father. He was buried in a tomb and took my sins with him and wrestled with the devil. He rose from the dead, having conquered death, and pronounced freedom for all of those who are with him. I chose to focus on Jesus’ resurrection because that to me is the most important. I have been freed, I have been called clean and pure, and that is beautiful.

The sermon at the Christmas Eve service was, eh, okay. Both my hubby and I got up and walked away wondering where all of the joy and happiness was for Christmas. Jesus was born to fulfill the law, and to free us from the chains of sin, not to remind us of how much we have sinned and how despicable we are.  The whole sermon was about how Jesus died on the cross for our sin, and how our sin is so wretched. I felt condemned and was very confused when the congregation clapped and cheered for their sinful wretchedness. My mind went back to the old caregroup meetings we used to go to. They were all about our sin, and we were pretty much required to bring a conflict to caregroup to share with the group so they could counsel us about getting to the root of our sin. How depressing! I really don’t think that the people in that church or organization don’t know about Jesus’ resurrection, but I definitely know it gets overlooked at all times of the year except for Easter.

If being a Christian means attending a church, bible studies, or one on one interactions that are surrounded by this depressing obsession with sin and the cross, then count me out. I have stepped away and broken free from those obsessions because that does not help me enjoy God or His blessings. I cannot rejoin that crowd of people because I cannot be tied down to legalistic practices. I have broken away from those practices of obsessing about sin, reading my bible every darn day to fulfill my quota for the week, or bowing down to the cross. I have not gone back to reading my bible because I am still tied with thin strings to some of those practices and they haven’t snapped yet. By going back I would be strengthening the very ties I want to break.

I know those post is a bit rambling, but I wanted to get these thoughts out. It really bothers me when I’m asked whether or not the church I go to is a gospel centered church. I feel like asking if they mean is it a cross centered church in return. I am learning about balance in my faith, and being so one sided as focusing on the cross and sin the most does not fit the balance I’m trying to build. I believe there is a place for both of those in the balance, but I have seen too many people blow up those too much.


Hello Twenty-Thirteen

I started this blog back in September I had no idea where it was going to go, but I knew that it would help my recovery from my past. I didn’t expect it to take off, or to find myself wanting to do more with it. I have written 22 (now 23) posts, had over 5,000 views on the blog, and 49 comments. I have loved every comment, and there are many times that I have needed those comments to make it through the down that caused a post that day.

There is much relief in knowing that I am not alone in what I have been through. There is relief in knowing that I am not crazy for having a difficult time deconstructing and not wanting anything to do with religion. I stopped going to church and it was after many conversations with my husband that we stopped attending the local SGM church, and I noticed an immediate difference in my uneasiness and anxiety about going to church. We ended up attending, most Sundays, a small Presbyterian church and have made a bunch of new friends. It amazed me how much stronger my blogging “voice” got once I was out from the influence of the people who’s opinions I feared. Removing yourself from the presence of someone you are afraid of and who has power over you greatly helps the healing.

I have greatly learned what tolerance looks like, there are still those people who push my buttons so hard I will not hesitate to say that I am not willing whatsoever to work on “our relationship.”  As I have said before, I value friendships very highly. They mean so much to me that I will willingly drop everything to help a friend out if they give one hint that they need help. I do not do this to gain favor for myself, or to cause someone to feel obligated to return the favor. I help my friends and am there for my friends because I care, and I care deeply. But woe to the one who breaks my trust or uses me.

Twenty-twelve was exciting, discouraging, new, and difficult. I enjoyed most of it, fought with part of it, and waited out more of it. I am eager to see what this year brings, and I hope that it will continue to bring joy and happiness into a life of working through the past and pushing toward the future.  I have several ideas for blog series and topics for the coming months and and I am excited to start taking this blog in a new direction!


When I first met you – Courtship, Part 1

Having over 160 pages of my husband’s and my story written down, it’s difficult to condense our story into a readable amount. But here is where I will try my best to do just that.

The First 6 Months

Year 18 of my life was strange. I was often told I was very mature for my age, but I never really knew what that meant. I would get cautious compliments on my accomplishments, but rarely did anyone take the time to draw me out. I had three friends that I kept up with, but everyone else either was never available to talk, or I had to fake my way through a shallow conversation. When I met Daniel* I pretty much wrote him off as another shallow guy, but there was something about him that intrigued me. We had just started going to a new church, and a mutual friend of ours introduced us. I met him while surrounded by my crazy siblings. I tried to find him on facebook later that night, but with no luck (I found out later he had his profile private). He never really left the back of my mind over the following two weeks. When we started chatting online two weeks later, there was a little click. I was still intrigued about something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Looking back, I can say that I definitely liked him from the start, but I wouldn’t have admitted it then.

In the midst of dealing with my parents, the stress of trying to finish school, and being in a ridiculously stressful job, Daniel started becoming my voice of reason. When I met him, I was coming to the end of two years of doctor’s appointments for my FM and those drs visits were increasingly depressing and discouraging. I would often get off work at the library, get online there and chat with him for two hours before heading home. The first 3 months of getting to know Daniel were refreshing, and we clicked almost instantly. Our chats are over 300 lines long, and we were constantly in communication of some sort. I figured out that I could send texts to his email, and since he was online all of the time, we would text/e-text back and forth for hours on end. I would hear from him first thing upon waking up and a text from him would be the last thing I read before falling asleep at night. This was all happening just 3 months after meeting him. I can see clearly now how much we liked each other from the start….:duh moment:

My family went on vacation that December, three months after we had met. I didn’t know if I would have wifi for my laptop, but we still texted through the vacation. A few days into the week, I asked him to cut back on texting me. I didn’t want to give him the wrong idea (gag me now) and I knew I was falling hard for him the more he communicated with me. He eagerly agreed to text me less, and hoped that he hadn’t “led me astray.”  We tried to cut back the text messages. We really did! It was so hard though. Really hard. Because of Daniel’s strict conviction of not talking to any girl on the phone unless it was for business, or because he was going out with her, I didn’t talk with him at all on the phone for the first year of getting to know him. There were many times that strongly frustrated me, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Allow me to back up a few steps and give some background. As I have mentioned before, I grew up under the ideology that courtship was the only way Christians did relationships. I read all of the right books, even some marriage books that were highly recommended by friends and mothers of my friends. Even though my parents were not involved with any of my friendships, I still tried to be careful with any guy friends I had. I can list the number of guys I’ve had crushes on on one hand. All of those friendships were one on one friendships, and I quickly outgrew my crush as I got to know them better. Only with one of them had I ever had a “let’s define this friendship” talk. That guy was just all over the map when it came to girls, and he had quite a trail of broken hearts behind him. I was quite determined not to be one of those broken hearts…and I’m not.

When Daniel came into the picture, I had already pulled back a lot from the other two guys I was pretty good friends with. Part of the reason for that was not wanting to become emotionally dependent on them, but also because I was withdrawing deep into a dark shell. Daniel came into my life right before I shut the door on any new friendships. You could say he made the friendship cut.

So when I told Daniel that I wanted to cut back on talking, I had several reasons for doing so. He had told me the previous week that he wouldn’t get into any relationship until he was done with college, and the next girl he got into a relationship with was going to the girl he married. I knew I liked him at this point, but I also knew that things were going to have to slow down or else this all going to blow up and we were going to be heading down the path he said he wouldn’t until he was out of college.  He had all four years of college ahead of him, and I knew neither of us were at all ready to support ourselves financially. It just couldn’t happen…yet.

I got back from vacation, and we went right back to our previous level of communicating. If anything, we probably talked more than before. I spent more time up at the library, and we started leaving voice mails for each other. We really figured out all of the ways technology allowed for us to keep in contact without actually talking over the phone. Daniel became the one thing that helped me get through most days as I sunk deeper into a very dark pit. He very quickly figured out that my family was dealing with some pretty dark things, and instead of running away and leaving me to my pain and ignoring me, it became his goal to make me laugh at least once every day. He listened when I cried about having a discouraging doctors appointment, and he encouraged me when I said I didn’t feel like talking that day. When we were together at church, he was the one who stayed by my side when I was in a lot of pain or having a really bad fibro-fog day. This guy was an absolutely true friend, and he is a precious gift.

Around March he told me that he wanted to take a week to cut back on all communication except for email, and only when I was online. He told me that he needed to take some time to figure out his and my friendship, and what my place was in his life. By now, I was 100% he liked me a lot, but he wouldn’t and didn’t admit to anything.  At the end of the week, the mutual friend who introduced us was having a birthday party that we both were invited to. I should probably mention that when talking with one of my closest friends about Daniel, she had cautioned me to not get too attached, because that would end badly. I told her not to worry because I knew things were right where they should be, also, I knew this guy was special. She didn’t believe me, so I stopped talking about Daniel to my friends. His name rarely came up.

The birthday party as a big question mark for me. I was going to know at this party where Daniel and I were going next with our friendship. I knew it would either just fade away and become nothing more than an acquaintance-ship or we were going deeper. I called my friend and told her that I wasn’t sure if I was going to come or not. I didn’t tell her anything about Daniel, but I was very nervous and anxious about seeing him after a week of almost no talking. At the last minute on the evening of the party, I decided to go. My stomach was entirely made up of butterflies and I could barely contain my heart as I rode over to the party. This was it. This was the first of many turning points in our friendship.

I got there early and helped my friend’s mom finish up with getting the food set up. I was so nervous my hands were shaking. I finally heard Daniel’s voice in the hall and I just about fell apart. He came around the corner, and it was then I knew.

We were moving forward.

*Name changed


Remember When Dreams Faded…

I watched a darling three year old the other day, and had an absolute blast with her. There is something rejuvenating interacting with an innocent child and there is something refreshing watching their joy at the simple things in life. A lot of memories from my own childhood came back as I watched and listen to her prattle on about favorite things as she shared her little life with me.

As I watched her make up playmates and give her toys voices, I realized I have no memories of doing that. I frantically tried to remember any time I might have made up scenarios for my dolls or played with imaginative playmates, but I only had foggy memories. By the time I had reached 10, I was already an “adult” and had lost any desire to make my dolls my playmates. My siblings and I built forts and made up towns in our basement. That only happened though when all of us got along…which usually wasn’t very often. But when we did get along, the stories about the towns we came up with were quite elaborate. That all stopped when I was 12 though. Every once and a while I would be convinced by my brother to build the Lego houses I was quite known for. He still, at 20, reminds me of those several story houses I used to build.

At 12, I was in charge of meals, cleaning, laundry, raising my two youngest siblings, and I was supposed to still be doing my school work. Somehow I fell off the school radar around the time Mom got breast cancer, and then I was in charge of grocery shopping as well. I remember feeling like everything I did didn’t matter when families brought over meals for us. I used to silently question whether or not I was good enough to cook for my family. I used to be mad at the families who provided meals for us because I felt like everyone was doubting my ability to take care of the house or the meals. I was trapped between wanting to be affirmed for the work I did, and wanting to not have so much responsibility.

Someone was babysitting us one time and I broke down in sudden tears because she wasn’t letting me do my job and she was letting the kids be kids as they raced around the house, was loud, and played lots of games. I rarely cried, but when I did it was because I couldn’t take it anymore and a LOT had built up. She comforted me by telling me that I should let my siblings be kids and that I was just a kid and needed to act like one. I couldn’t explain to her how and why I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t make her understand why I wasn’t a kid, and I couldn’t explain the problems that wracked my family. That is when I realized that I wasn’t a child anymore and from 12 years old and on, I was an old spirit in a young confused body.

My biggest problem with large families raised in a Patriarchy/Quiverfull mindset is the weight that is put on the oldest daughter. I have read articles, and heard parents talk, about how they don’t believe in teenagers, or even that their children can’t handle the heavy theology or ideas that the parents start inducting them into at a very early age. The parents treat their children as if their children are already adults, but then lose it when a child acts like a child and the parents come down harder with the discipline. Because of being treated like an adult by my parents, it always was hugely confusing when I got in trouble for something I didn’t think I’d get in trouble for. Or something I didn’t think I should get in trouble for.

I hear a lot of parents wanting to raise their children to make good, wise decisions [on their own], but I barely see parents, especially P/Q parents, allowing their children to do that. My husband and I have had a lot of discussions about what we will or won’t allow our children to do. Even though I grew up with more maturity than most people my age, and I don’t regret having that, I don’t want my children to feel like they can’t act their age.  I don’t want to see my children frozen in a state of responsibility that makes it hard for them to imagine, create, or be risk-takers in their endeavors.  I am stuck right now feeling unsure of what my “gifts” are.  I was so concerned about shouldering my responsibilities that I never had time to really grow creatively or let my imagination blossom.

If parents are so concerned with teaching their children to make good decisions, then why are there so many grown up children fighting to make those good decisions as their parents beat them down and still try to make decisions for them. A friend told me a few months ago that even though parents are usually wiser than us kids, even they don’t know what is best for us all of the time. Even though I knew this, I hadn’t ever put it into words.  This is what frustrated me the most in my relationship with my husband, prior to marriage.

When I met my husband, I was in that unknown stage between being a child and a young adult, able to make her own decisions. I hadn’t pushed my parents [yet] into letting me make my own decisions. The decisions I had made myself were, more often than not, the decisions they wanted me to make. The frustration, the confusion, and the pain of not feeling like my parents trusted me was dizzying as I made decisions (with my now husband) like I had been taught, but was not allowed the freedom to make them. More on our relationship story later though.

I still find myself wringing my hands in frustration and confusion as I try to figure out what I am good at. I feel a great sense of loss looking back and feeling the numbness my 12 year old self felt when realizing I could never be, nor was I, a care free girl. I have broken out of the added weight of feeling responsible to raise my siblings, or to be the oldest child to set the example for my younger siblings. But I still feel lost. I still don’t know what my gifts are, or what I should pursue now.

I am good with kids because I am the oldest of 9, and have nannied for over 3 years on top of having raised most of my siblings. I have played the piano for 12 years and am good at it because it was my dad’s dream for me, and yet it carries some harsh memories because of his disappointment when his dream crumbled because I couldn’t play anymore. I am a historically accurate seamstress because the only way we were going to be able to do reenacting was if I made the clothes myself. I took voice lessons for 1 1/2 years because I wanted to, but had to stop when Mom couldn’t afford to drive me to lessons each week since i wasn’t taking piano lessons at the same place anymore. I sometimes wonder if the reason why I couldn’t take voice lessons anymore was because I could no longer follow my dad’s dream with the piano. I love to write because this is the only outlet I have left for the emotions that erupt from my heart and mind at times. But am I good at writing, singing, sewing, playing the piano, taking care of other’s children? I think I am, but those are all connected to the grave responsibilities I was placed under as a child.

Playing the piano became my dream when I discovered I had a natural talent for music. But that crumbled when I developed FM, carpal tunnel, and tendinitis. Singing was amazing, and I was slowly discovering bravery and confidence when that had to stop because I couldn’t play the piano anymore. I took sign language for 4 years and loved it, but the stress of living at home that brought on the Fibromyalgia, also caused me to stop signing because I had to focus on things at home.  I used to write poetry, lots of it, but I stopped when it became too heavy and depressing. I showed my mom some of my poems, and she didn’t understand the pain I felt. There is a certain emptiness felt when you stand before a field of broken dreams, lost dreams, or buried dreams.  I am rediscovering how to dream, but sometimes I feel too cynical or too “grown up” to dream.

do you dream? can you dream?

 


Breaking the Silence

I know I’ve been pretty quiet recently, both here on my blog, and on other blogs. After the last post, I stepped back from posting for awhile. It has helped taking a break from writing, and now I’m ready to jump back in for a bit more time. A little bit of news though. My husband’s and my courtship story was put up on Julie Anne’s blog, BGBC Survivors, yesterday, so please go take a look! I will probably be starting a series of more in depth posts about our story sometime in the coming months.

Over the past few weeks, life has been doubly hectic as my husband prepares his finals and is busy with his nose stuck to the computer screen or buried in a book. We also had Thanksgiving, and I’ve decided that I really don’t care for the holidays. Every major holiday brought a frantic calling around to see which family we could invite over for the holiday. We were desperate for others to be there for Thanksgiving, or Easter, and sometimes even Christmas. If there were other people there that meant that there was a better chance of Dad not blowing up at someone, or making everyone miserable with his degrading words. Having never lived close to relatives, getting together with them for holidays never happened. Over the past 4 years, it’s been harder to find people who were willing to get together with my family for holidays. Because of not having a lot of traditions for holidays, my family pretty much spends Christmas, or Thanksgiving, like it’s a regular old day with an abnormally large meal in the middle of the day.

Integrating into my husband’s family has been quite an eye opener to me. They have relatives in the area, and each holiday that they celebrate, everyone gets together. It’s been a blast, and I do regret not having these traditions with my family, but at the same time, I don’t regret it. We could all barely stand each other and due to that, birthdays, holidays, and other celebrations were awkward, uncomfortable, and more often than not, felt fake.  The cute little cards my siblings would make for each other on birthdays and the card from mom and dad would be sweet and encouraging, I guess, but I couldn’t take them as truth because it was only once a year I would read that my parents were proud of me, or encouraged to see this or that in me.

A week ago today was Thanksgiving. Memories of last years guilt trips from my mom and dad about not eating a meal with them haunted me as I prepared to buckle down for the whirlwind of activities. The curse of living 15 minutes away from both families is trying to make everyone happy and content with what we decide. Neither of us enjoy spending time with my family, and besides, they don’t plan anything. Ha, I remember Mother’s Day this past year….it was miserable, and I spent the entire time trying to ignore the jabs my dad was constantly making to my younger siblings. I finally snapped and told him that it was so uncomfortable to be around him, and would he please just stop. He got mad at me and told me “welcome to my life.” Sheesh, it’s no wonder I don’t enjoy being over at my family’s house for holidays.

This year for Thanksgiving, I checked, checked, and double checked, to make sure that we knew what my parents were doing, or not doing. They didn’t have anything planned, nor did they have any idea at what time they would eat the thanksgiving meal. I finally told my mom that I didn’t know if we’d be able to stop by since we were driving an hour with my husband’s family to spend thanksgiving evening with his extended family. We did finally decide to stop over at my family’s for a little bit, and thankfully didn’t run into my dad at all for most of the entire time we were there.

I went inside to grab my coat to head out and I walked in to my dad getting in my mom’s face yelling at her. Great. Just the memory I wanted to have to carry with me.  I walked out the door as several of my siblings verbally came to my mom’s defense, and to my dad storming off back upstairs to whatever he does up there.  That simply solidified why I do not go to my family’s house right now.

The rest of our Thanksgiving was good, and we had a lot of fun with my husband’s family and extended family. Even still, I do not like the holidays. I don’t like the holidays because there is so much emphasis on family, happiness, joy, peace. I don’t know what that’s like, and it’s hard for me to feel anything other than please let this pass quickly. I don’t like birthdays because they were always awkward affairs with the family trying to pretend to be happy that one of it’s members was turning a year older. I have broken down and told my husband I can’t go to his family’s birthday celebrations because it makes me realize how much I’ve missed and it really hurts. I’ve never told them this truth, but it still hurts a little bit when we celebrate one of his siblings’ or parents’ birthdays.

Christmas is coming up, but I hoping that my family will still be going out of town. if they do still decide to go out of town, we will not be celebrating Christmas with them because it’s too long of a drive to where they’re going for us to go for one day. I am looking forward to my inlaws’ Christmas celebration though. It is promising to be quite an adventure, and I am really discovering I love doing things with this family. They are always very gun-ho about doing spontaneous things, and I love being told what to bring to make the gathering so much more exciting!

I still don’t like the holidays though. I will be much more happy when January 1st passes and I can breathe a sigh of relief.


To doubt or not to doubt

(Please feel free to read my fellow bloggers’ take on this subject in our three part posts.  here is Joanna’s,  and here is Hännah’s)

 

I grew up under the mindset that to doubt Jesus meant to doubt my salvation, the bible, my faith, and that Jesus is real. I remember being a newly baptized 8 year old, crying on my bed because I was disobedient and I needed to be baptized again because I had sinned. Even though I was thoroughly reassured by my mom that I couldn’t lose my salvation and that I didn’t need to be baptized again, that fear that if I doubted, or messed something up big time, I would lose favor in Jesus’ eyes.  So as I started really questioning the church, my bible, and seeing my faith with eyes damaged by my dad’s hypocrisy, this fear started crippling me, and I felt trapped; stuck.

I knew I was watching my “faith” fall apart, I knew I was no longer comfortable reading my bible, attending church, or even talking the talk. When I tried to explain to someone what I was feeling, I felt like I had to quickly reassure said person that I wasn’t running away from God; in fact, I was running to Him! The looks of cautious disbelief I got were numerous. Seriously, though, was I running away from or to God? Deep in the recesses of my mind, I didn’t know. I still feared the conditionally loving God I thought I knew.  The questions that ran through my mind were overwhelming and yet I still tried to block them out and pretend that all was well. Those questions soon became like trying to hold oil in my hands. I couldn’t hold on to them, and they started affecting more than just wanting to not go to church.

The increasingly fearful and uneasy feelings I felt caught me off guard. I began to accept that I was doubting, but I still couldn’t put my finger on why I was doubting, or what I was doubting. I knew it had something to do with my past, my dad’s hypocrisy, and the beliefs I had willingly swallowed since I became a Christian some dozen or more years ago.

A friend lent me Rachel Held Evans’ book, “Evolving in Monkey Town“. I kept coming across things and saying yes, I agree with that, yes, I can totally relate and understand what she is talking about there. Even if I agreed and felt like I could relate, I still felt like there was more to the answer for my doubting. Then it hit, and through three different outlets, I got the same answer, all within days of each other.

Through a long email chain with a friend, she told me how her mom had told her it was okay to question, that that meant your faith was becoming stronger and was growing deeper. Through multiple blogs and many posts, I started seeing the same thing; it’s okay to question. It’s okay to ask, challenge, and doubt your beliefs. All of this sounded so good and was a relief to hear, but I was still stuck on the fear of doubting God and losing my faith; I was still stuck feeling like there was more to this.

I got the end of “Evolving in Monkey Town”, and that’s where I found my epiphany; I found the answer. Up to finishing the book last night, I still clung to the fact that I knew I wasn’t doubting God, I just didn’t know how to put into coherent words the doubt I felt. The fear of doubt was no longer strangling as I discovered how much Jesus loved me. I discovered that He will love me no matter what. He is the author and perfecter of my faith, and that faith will never be taken away from me. All that matters to my faith is the fact that I love because I have been loved first with a love that is deeper and wider than any figment of the imagination. Everything else is piddly details that many Christians get caught up with and oftentimes forget that we are loved and have been given a wealth of grace and mercy.

Rachel writes,

Doubt is a difficult animal to master because it requires that we learn the difference between doubting God and doubting what we believe about God. The former has the potential to destroy faith; the latter has the power to enrich and refine it. The former is a vice; the latter is a virtue.

This is what I couldn’t put into words. I was not doubting Jesus as I first thought, but I was doubting the fundamentals of my faith, my beliefs. I was, without realizing it, becoming a Berean and was no longer content with just accepting what I was taught, but was questioning, trying to probe deeper to come to a conclusion about why I believe what I believed.  To doubt and question what I’ve been taught is to throw my faith through a refining fire to burn away the false ideas that have taken root. To doubt and question my faith keeps my faith active instead of allowing certainty to freeze it and never allow for any growth.

My past with my dad and his influence to my faith is very toxic. Trying to question and rebuild my beliefs is like trying to get rid of a poison in my system but my system still craves it. This is not normal for me, nor is it comfortable. I wasn’t encouraged to question my faith growing up. I was given the mindset that once we reach a certain stage our faith will remain the same and constant.  I was taught not to question, not to dig deeper and constantly evaluate what I believed.

This epiphany was relieving, it was helpful, and has given me a break in the frenzy of doubts and questions that have been flying around my mind. I can now say with doubled confidence I am not doubting Jesus, I am not doubting His love for me, I am not doubting my salvation. I am doubting the beliefs I was raised under; I am doubting the things my dad would say and then do the opposite.  I am rebuilding the foundation everything else will stand upon. Jesus is my only foundation, and I want to get back to that place. I do believe that this is going to be a long journey, but I’m not worried anymore. I’m not feeling crushed under doubt I don’t understand. I understand where I am at, but I do not know where this all will take me. I am willing to question, doubt, and wait to see where I go. I do know it’s gonna be good.


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