I went to church a month ago for the first time in over a year. It was exactly what I remember, nothing much had changed in message format or worship song trend. It was a new location with new faces, all smiley and full of welcome.
At the end of the night, I climbed into the back of my friends Honda and we drove home in the rain, thirty minutes of reflection as they gently asked what I had thought and how I liked the service?
It’s a hard question to answer, kind of like the end of a date, he was a nice guy and did everything right, but you just don’t quite feel it.
I tried to explain it wasn’t them, but me. I was just screwed up and unable to sit in a church service.
My friend Drew listened carefully and then asked, “was there a moment Krisi? Where you were just so hurt by the church?”
I kind of wish there was, that I could look to emotional abuse or mean church girls as the reason for not wanting to go back. Or maybe if I could say I prayed for my grandfather to not die and he died anyway. A quantifiable reason.
But I have nothing. Just little moments of doubt I kept shoveling under the pew.
Like once when I was walking through the cinder block hallways of my dormitory, three months into college and as happily Christian as anyone could dream. And then my croc encased feet froze long enough for me to have the thought,
“what if all this is made up?”
And then I started moving again, leaving the thought in the phosphorescent hallway, because I never wanted to be one of those kids who went to college and lost their faith, their certainty really is what I meant.
Thus far at school, I had suffered my first dating mishaps, friendship vulnerabilities and bible classes.
It was at my small private Christian college where I slowly allowed myself to face the inconsistencies of the church, the bible, the morality of my youth and what I had known faith to be — certainty.
To be certain that God was real and church mattered was necessary to my existence, to the only identity I knew. Doubt was to scary to embrace.
It has been over the last year, outside of the umbrella of the church, a place generally full of love and comfort for me, that I began to explore the beauty of doubt even further.
Church, for me, was a place where I was always certain, where black and white were accepted easily. In stepping away from church, I was simultaneously stepping out from certainty. Which I have always interpreted to be stepping away from faith.
In this phase of life away from certainty, I have drawn some new conclusions:
Certainty removes me from faith, And doubt gives me a greater grasp of what faith really is meant to be.
If true, this is a relief.
Because it means I am not more lost than ever before. I am found. I see truth in its gritty nature better than ever. I can exhale, my tumble of doubt is not a tragic misstep, but growth into whole personhood.
I never want to grow out of doubt, maybe out of bitterness and disdain, but I cherish doubt.
It has set me free, turned my eyes in a refreshing direction, maybe even the right one.
So it wasn’t hurt which has turned me away from the church, but a fresh understanding of faith, which has given me the courage to not be certain.
I’ve said this before, but I cannot see myself back in church in a traditional sense, but maybe I will eventually find a community where I can embrace doubt along with Christianity.
I sure hope so.