I’ve kept a note on my phone for the last three years titled “Where I am spiritually today.” Whether we acknowledge it or not, our faith evolves—sometimes through rigorous searching and sometimes through circumstances. Normally it’s both.
I look back at times I thought I was at an intellectual crossroads, when the reality was that I was just hurting personally. The problem of pain will always remain trickier than theories and doctrines.
The note I had written out had sections for everything: what is God, how do we approach the Bible, science and evolution, is Hell actually eternal torment, what’s the point of prayer, what is the Church, and on and on.
Here’s where I’m at today...
Searching, questioning, exploring, deconstructing—it’s an interesting and worthwhile pursuit. Yet, I’ve found most of what you’ll get hung up on, makes little to no difference in how you practically live your life.
Now pause: I am not minimizing the horrific baggage some people must shed in order to heal and move into a healthier spirituality. “Religious trauma” is a term for a reason. There are also important divides and stances to be made. But...
...I’m just saying 6,000 years versus 13.7 billion doesn’t really change how I love my enemies. Atonement theories don’t change the fact that I have Good News. Literal versus metaphorical doesn’t make something more or less true.
Now don’t get me wrong, I will remain the one who never tires of a conversation over coffee or brews for hours about the mysteries of the universe and the purpose of our existence. To this day I am passionately curious and an email away from setting up a time to talk.
But I’m not losing sleep over parsing out every detail anymore. I’m not existing in a state of turmoil. The grieving phase of shedding my childhood faith has passed, and the appreciation for mystery with less emphasis on certainty has replaced it.
I’ve arrived at a simpler conclusion, an operating philosophy, a new paradigm. I’ll steal a phrase I heard recently from a church who cut their doctrine statements down to one line:
“Life is a gift, and love is the point.”
The rest is details.