I’ve decided to actively give up god for awhile, this may sound like a casual statement, said flippantly and off the cuff, but honestly I think i’ve given up on the idea of god for longer than I have known — I think, if i’m honest doubt has been predominant in my spiritual explorations for the majority of my twenties.
But I think that my understanding of doubt has been skewed, as I have believed doubt is giving up.
Last night I said to my roommate, “I think I gave up a long time ago”, to which she responded, “I don’t think it’s fair to lump doubt and giving up together, because they’re not the same thing.”
I think she’s right, in the times when I have given up, it hasn’t been my moments of skepticism during theological discussions, or church services, I think it’s been when I decided I didn’t care to distinguish what I was waiting for, or perhaps living for.
Think about it like a gym membership. For example, I bought a rock climbing membership in the spring of last year, and the “why I joined”? — A little to do with a boy I was interested in at the time, and a little to do with hating the floppy skin under my arms. The “what I joined for” gets a little deeper, I joined to gain arm and back strength so in twenty years I would still be able to lift a backpack, or in forty years I might be able to climb a mountain if I so desired.
Maybe “why” and “what” don’t seem that different to you, or to me for that matter.
But somewhere around July, I started to forget the why, I wasn’t dating or really even thinking about that boy anymore, and getting rid of the jelly skin under my arms felt like a pipe-dream.
But what I want to be strong for, the life goal if you will, doesn’t alter as quickly as a crush on a boy.
The why am I waiting for sex? Initially I think it was Christian morality, but say if I gave that up, then maybe i’m waiting strictly because i’m scared not too. But “the what i’m waiting for” is a goal I can remember and focus on, even when I’m in the middle of hearing a really convincing argument as i’m lips to lips with a guy, as to why I should quit being afraid and just do it with him already.
I did give up a little bit with rock climbing, and if i’m honest, wanting to wait for sex, especially when I think about the fact that I am a twenty-six year old virgin, which sounds less and less cool every year.
But if what my roommate said is true, giving up and doubt are not the same thing, then doubt in the “why I do something” does not strip me of the “what I am doing it for” and if it does, I have some serious questions to ask.
If I followed a god my whole life because the idea of hell was scary, than my understanding of the world is navigated by fear and self-preservation.
I mentioned earlier I was actively giving up god for awhile, maybe this is the wrong semantics, perhaps I should say, I am actively doubting any god exists. I think the difference is meaningful to me, because I am not laying down with a white flag on my chest, closing my eyes and avoiding an answer.
I am seeking the truth, which may not be what I want it to be. I think this is the most frightening part, because if I don’t get the answer I’ve always known, it means I either have to lie to myself to remain comfortable, or I have to let go and be in pain for awhile.
Why am I actively doubting there is any god? Because I am tired of saying I believe in something because it is easier than the alternative.
What is my purpose in actively doubting there is any god? A hope that in twenty years I won’t be satisfied with comfortable ignorance and cutesy phrases about guardian angels, and in forty years, I might have the courage to keep asking questions and admit I don’t have all the answers.
Even when the “why” fluctuates, I can still hold onto the “what”, (in science this would the variable and constant). The what I need a gym membership for, the what I am waiting for with sex, the what am I doing for purpose everyday, the what type of person do I want to be.