Doubt is the mechanism by which faith evolves.
Rachel Held Evans
It’s always…….sobering when someone your own age dies. Especially when you’re 37.
My faith, and everything about it, began a transformation 7 years ago, just before I would lose the first close person to me, and someone only 2 years older than myself.
I had left my Southern Baptist church several months before my cousin, Eric, was killed in a bicycle accident. And his death rocked the very foundation of my faith.
Christian Conservatism and Evangelical Christianity was all I’d ever known. And I knew it better than anyone. I knew how to play that part. Quote those scriptures, clichés and arguments. I had all the answers.
Until I didn’t.
One of the things that evangelical parents fear the most, is their child attending a secular university and having their belief systems challenged or destroyed.
Mine began to undergo a transformation not from a secular influence, but a spiritual one.
When I returned to college in my late 20’s, I attended a Presbyterian University. For the first time in my life, I was facing my own beliefs from a new perspective. Thankfully, instead of my usual go-to move of spouting the answers I thought I had, I began to listen.
I began to learn about the origin of the Bible. The men who wrote it. And gain a deeper understanding of the psychology that determines how human beings process information.
After Eric died, I began attending the Episcopal church. My spiritual self was dehydrated for truth. For love. For something more than legalism and a binary set of beliefs that wasn’t holding water next to the image of what I knew God must be, if Love was his very nature.
Doubt, and questioning of long-held spiritual beliefs, can be a vast wasteland of loneliness. But then I began to discover others that shared my journey. In the Episcopal church, and beyond.
Authors like Richard Rohr and Rachel Held Evans began to pierce my soul with their words.
Evans, like myself, had been raised as a “golden child” of a conservative family. Her spiritual journey mirrored my own in so many profound ways. And I found relief in the fact that I wasn’t alone in this “wake up call” that I knew would have my conservative friends and family eyeing me with suspicion and, more than likely, disappointment.
When I learned yesterday of Evans’ death, I was deeply saddened.
The world has lost a voice of hope and reason. A warrior for truth. An encourager to those of us who took a completely different path than many of our peers, and certainly not the one of our youth.
And yet, my faith is strong. And it’s very real and sustaining. For this season of my life, it’s just me and God. And I find that I am okay with that. Because, honestly, at the heart of my faith, that is what matters more than anything. The intimate, one-to-one connection we have with our Creator. And how we let that connection permeate and transform our very lives.
As I think about Rachel this morning, I believe she is fully known by God today, and that, for the first time, she fully knows God. That gives the doubter in me such peace.
I do not know what lies beyond this life. But I believe, more than I ever have before, that we will not walk that journey alone. God is there. The saints that have gone before are there. And the doubters will be welcomed with open arms.