I cried a lot on Thursday. I cried in my therapy session, I cried on the bus, I cried in the Target parking lot, I cried in the car on the way to work, and then I got in a big hurry and I forgot to cry the rest of the evening. I think I met my tear quota and I should be good for the rest of the year. We won’t blame these tears on the crazy things happening in my uterus at the time. These tears are much too important to be dismissed as lady business, but I’m pretty positive that the hateful river of blood pouring out of me didn’t help the situation. I was having the most serious identity crisis I had ever had. It was as if each drop of everything I had ever believed was forming puddles in the corners of my eyes and falling to the ground. Well, not the ground. That’s absurd. My boobs would never let that happen. Falling on my chest, then, and weighing heavy on my heart.
The past few weeks have been some of the most exciting and strangely challenging of my life. I think I say that every few weeks, and though it’s exhausting, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I never want to stop changing and evolving and growing. I never want to be too comfortable. And God, my wish was granted this week.
I’m someone with mommy issues. You’d think with a dead daddy, I’d have daddy issues. And I do, but they pale in comparison to my mommy issues. I mean, how do you really have issues with someone you don’t know? The issue with my mother is that she is my everything. My dependence on my mother has gone far beyond the natural, physical dependence that a child has on his or her mother– it’s been a deeply emotional dependence that most people grow out of after, oh, I don’t know, infancy. I was, at one time, so very emotionally dependent on my mother that I couldn’t function without her constant attention and communication. I begged and prayed for God to make me a normal young adult that was independent in an emotionally healthy way, and I believed that after some time, he had answered those prayers… Until my best friend in the world fell off the face of the Earth for two weeks. Although this was something I had never experienced before, I recognized a very familiar feeling, and it seemed to me as though my prayers hadn’t really been answered, but that I had just shifted from dependence on my mother to dependence on my best friend because of proximity. Key words being “it seemed to me as though my prayers hadn’t really been answered.” That phrase was planted in my mind, and after a couple busy weeks of treating God like an old high school friend that I swear I’m gonna text before the end of the week, the phrase had grown into a belief.
When it comes to old high school friends, I have a tendency to contact them only when I’m reminded of some magical teenage experience we shared. There are some that are more prevalent on my heart, but the vast majority of people I used to spend time with are really only worth talking to when something random makes me remember how happy they used to make me. I was treating God like an old high school friend, and as if that’s not problematic enough, every time I remembered how happy he used to make me, all the mountains he had moved for me, every blessing he’d poured out, that phrase kept crashing into my memories like the Kool-aid dude, but instead of saying “OH YEAH,” he’d say “maybe your prayers were never really answered.” Can you imagine how awkward that commercial would be? Maybe I had just shifted an issue, an idol to another place. I kept finding evidence that supported this idea, and what that meant was that everything I had ever believed had been a lie. Issue after issue, idol after idol, I kept tripping over things that I thought were behind me, tripping over chains I thought I was free from.
When I confessed it out loud, when I admitted that maybe I didn’t believe in God anymore, I immediately felt five billion times worse. I can’t even begin to describe the utter emotional and physical sickness that almost incapacitated me. I expected to feel relief. I expected to be at peace, embracing who I was, but what I realized was that I couldn’t embrace that person as myself because that wasn’t me. Because God is me in and I am in him.
“Why can’t you find meaning and purpose in your life apart from this… thing? Why can’t you find meaning and purpose in your relationships or your art or the things that you learn?” My best friend was trying to help. At the time, I had no words. I had no idea. I had nothing to say, but I knew that I couldn’t. “Why can’t you find it in your relationship with me?” Still nothing. Relationships and art and learning are my favorite things. Why couldn’t I just find meaning in that apart from God without feeling sick? I can’t find my purpose in that because it’s not enough. So many people will let that be enough for them, but it’s not enough for me. Because people, even the ones I love the most and who love me the most, are selfish. They disappear for weeks or they marry men that hate you, and I’m even more selfish than that. And art? It’s subjective. It’s a labor of love, but I will never be pleased with my own. And the things that I learn change every day. Things I was once sure of are things that I can no longer believe, and I’ve never had such a hard time parting with something I once swore to be true. I know what it feels like to find meaning and purpose in life. I know what’s enough. Why would I walk away from that?
After some time to think, I had a much more thoughtful (I mean seriously, my brain was not so tired that I couldn’t form thoughts) conversation with another friend, younger than I but wise beyond her years. After some of her words of wisdom and understanding I said “I just hope that I can come out on the other side of this and be better for it.” I’m still praying for that. I’ve made it through the worst, but I know it’s not over, and that’s okay. I think one of the most paralyzing feelings I recognized as I considered breaking up with the creator of the universe was comfort. Not peace, not rest, but comfort, which is something I run from. My biggest fears include, but are not limited to, bumblebees, pickles, wobbly sewer cover things on sidewalks, and settling. One of my favorite things about life with God was an inexplicable peace, but a constant discomfort– a desire to never stop growing and changing and being better. And it wasn’t because I thought I would earn God’s favor by being better, and it wasn’t because I hated myself and wanted to change. It was because I was excited to become a little bit more like Jesus every day, and I never stopped searching myself for pieces I could tweak to look more like him. When I started to walk away from God, I felt comfortable, but restless. There was no peace, but I seemed to be okay with that. It was terrifying.
“What are you so afraid of? Going to hell?” my best friend asked. No. I’m not afraid of going to hell. I’m afraid of waking up without Jesus because God didn’t send Jesus so that we could get heaven. God sent us Jesus for this very second. We could’ve kept offering burnt sacrifices. It would have been hard, nearly impossible maybe, but we could have still gotten heaven. I’m afraid of waking up in the morning without Jesus because he is LIFE.