Faithless

When you work at a big church, the week leading up to Easter is hectic. My week has been dedicated to survival, keeping my head down as I work like crazy to make sure everything I’m responsible for is handled well. But I’m taking my first away-from-my-desk lunch all week to write this post because the walls of my office feel like they’re closing in. Note to self: even though the weather is lovely, you’re a sitting target in the courtyard. Find somewhere more secluded to write next time.

Unpacking my house has taken a backseat to survival as well. My kids have been doing their best to derail my efforts, and it has felt like enough simply to make it through the day, feed the children, straighten up, then collapse into bed. Oh, and watch the season premiere of Game of Thrones —  I haven’t totally given up on myself, y’all.

Let’s talk about faith for a minute. It’s something I haven’t really touched on (imagine that — no religion in a dating blog), but because of my job, it’s unavoidable, really. I work Sunday mornings, overseeing one of the services on campus, so I catch bits and pieces of the sermon. I attend a (not mandatory but — ahem — highly encouraged) weekly chapel service for staff, and our staff meetings typically open or close with prayer.

I was raised in the church, walked away for a while in my late teens and early twenties, then went all out for Jesus for much of my twenties and early thirties, leading women’s groups, writing worship songs, serving on church leadership committees, teaching Sunday School, mentoring teenage girls. All the things. I believed wholeheartedly in what I was doing and the reasons why I was doing them. My faith sustained me during the most challenging parts of my marriage. My laundry list of church commitments kept me distracted from the loneliness and fulfilled and affirmed me in ways that My Ex did not.

About three years ago, I decided to finally go to therapy. And I laid out the whole terrible story of my marriage and why I was so profoundly unhappy. When I spilled it all out, it was immediately apparent to me that my situation wasn’t sustainable. I stayed in therapy for a while longer; however, for reasons that are still unclear, that period marked a shift in my spiritual life. During my separation and divorce, I felt like I was in a spiritual desert. I assumed that I would eventually emerge and make it back to where I once was, so I wasn’t too concerned. But as the years passed, I wondered how likely that return would be.

I started working at the church while I was in the desert. Perhaps it was an odd choice, but I needed the money and the flexibility the job afforded me. I don’t mind being around the religion, theology, faith-language, liturgy, and the rest. But it does serve to highlight my lack of faith, the absence of what I once held so closely. Now it just feels empty, which doesn’t make me sad so much as objectively contemplative.

I know some of you who read this blog regularly are people of faith, Christian bloggers even. I know so much on the subject of Christianity, have access to so much (I could pull together 15 people at a moment’s notice to pray for my soul), yet I have no desire to grab onto it. I still believe in God, though I don’t often pray to Him/Her. I guess my point is that the road that led me here is more complicated than my dating life or my sex life or my relationships past and present. Considering my spirituality and how it has shifted in the past few years is worth the time it takes to type this out.

If you’ve traveled a similar (or wildly different) path, feel free to comment and tell your story. Thanks for reading.

 

 

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Aly says:

    Similar story. Raised southern baptist and was deeply committed to Jesus till my mid-20s. I left the ‘church’ while I was with my ex, but when I left my ex, I kind of threw whatever was remaining of my faith out the window. But strange how faith will somehow (and in a new way) find it’s way back? I actually just recently found a church I wanted to go to. It starts at 11 am which is perfect because I spend my Saturday nights singing karaoke till 2 am … which honestly has been my true church of choice for the past three years. I show up hungover and it’s ok and they accept me. Or actually, not sure if they do. But I accept me. And I’m not 100% sure I’m on board with everything yet, but I finally feel free to express who I am, with my questions and my doubts, and stand behind my own relationship with whatever power is up there (I like to call it God). My faith will never be what it was and I’m ok with that. It’s a new thing, a blending of everything I truly believe God intended for me to learn … bar bannings, affairs, black eyes. And the good grace of Jesus. Anyway, that’s fascinating that you work in a church! Kinda beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. fortymatches says:

      Thanks for sharing that, Aly. Faith is definitely funny like that. When I first came back to the church, it was entirely unexpected. I was invited to church by a dear friend, and I wanted to see her so I said yes. Upon arriving and hearing the first strains of the music, i felt like God disintegrated the walls I’d built up around my heart. It was instantaneous and undeniable. And I started to pursue faith and God from that point on.
      Now, it’s different. Not to say that can’t or won’t happen again, but working in the church is a bit like seeing how the sausage is made, so to speak. There’s something about it that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
      I’m glad you found a church that you want to attend. I don’t think you ever have to be 100% on board to find things that bring you joy or satisfaction. If anyone is looking for the perfect church, they’ll be disappointed to find that they’re all full of imperfect people and all the problems that come with that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  2. Well, hugs! ๐Ÿ’•
    I had such a devastating divorce myself. 20 yrs, kids, Walker ran off with a girl the age of our son who had just been kicked out of rehab for meth for the 3rd time. He said he was running to the store then texted our son to let him know he left a note!
    The betrayal and bomb that he set off in our lives and family was just indescribable! He stole all the money leaving us stranded as well.
    I went thru some serious faith issues, really it was relationship issues….” you said you love me? How could you let this happen?”
    It took me a hot minute…..but I did realize that people have free will. It wasn’t Gods fault my ex was such a prick. That was all ex’s doing and choices BUT if anyone knew what abandonment and betrayal was like by those He loved, it was Christ. He knew too well my pain, grief, suffering and I was not alone.
    Though I couldn’t see His plan beyond the current pain, through it I began being honest with myself….our marriage was always a struggle, he was a serial cheater and I just tried my best to make something rotten work for my kids and because I was too afraid to attempt starting over. I realized too, had he not done what he did, I would’ve waisted a lifetime surviving life with him and never finding any happiness for myself. God bless the broken road. …

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    1. fortymatches says:

      That sounds unbelievably hard, Laura — what a story! And it’s crazy how we can look back at those terrible moments and come to see them with a different perspective. Thank you for sharing ๐Ÿ’›

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