Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mountains and Molehills

Happy October everyone!  Looking forward to a month of breakthroughs, wind-swept change, shifting colors and deeper textures. 

This post will be a bit more personal and, well, spiritual than my usual fare. Over lunch with my adopted life-sister and friend Lillivette this week, she posed a question that I have been somewhat afraid to ask myself: "Do you feel sometimes like you're two different people - the church you and the real-life you?  Depending on who you're with - church or non-church friends?"

Dammit, Lillivette!  This has literally been irking me for several years.  It's not that I feel like I'm living a double life, I'm just dreadfully inconsistent.  I don't like to bring up God and what he's done for me with people who don't share my experience because a) it probably would sound crazy to them, b) they probably don't give a flying rat's you know what and c) how do I know I'm not crazy anyway?

Sometimes I don't go to church for months at a time, substituting it with late Saturday night martinis and hangovers.  Sometimes I feel like my church-me is just some psychosematic astral projection that I made up in a fitful sleep because I was supposed to.  Sometimes I feel like my spiritual life must be a dirty secret, really, since I am so hesitant to talk about it.  Sometimes I feel like it's all made up anyway.  SHEESH.  As a hot mess myself, how can I dare to be my church self and non-church self at the same time? 

When I take a second to listen to this torrent of dizzy foggy thoughts, I see it for what it is: monkey-brain, that incoherent and useless ramble of prehistoric nonsense.  Of course I'm going to be imperfect, torn, scared, and sometimes downright cowardly about important things.  Especially about important things.  In choosing to align my life with a belief system not centered on myself and what I want at any given moment, of course I am setting myself up to fail in some ways.  The point is not to be an ideal representative of God, but to be truthful and human enough to try to share Him and love him back.

The real problem I face is not that I am two different people depending on who I am with; it's that I am the same person.  If with my church friends I struggle to join in belief, I am the one who has to live with that and deal with my character.  If with my non-church friends I struggle to remember and live up to my beliefs, I am the one who has to deal with my character.  And my character always will effect the other people in my life.  I always take myself with me, whatever the situation.  My Dad always says, "You are the common denominator."

Believing in God is hard for me sometimes.  I think about it a lot, and question it a lot, and need it a lot, and I'm always wondering what it means.  So, I share these thoughts with all of you simply because I think (and hope) that perhaps I am not the only one who struggles to be open or who struggles with forging a character in line with their values.  I share, too, because I think I am probably not the only one I know who believes in God but also struggles to believe.  I just think it's time to stop making it so complicated for myself, to simplify, to stand up, and share.  (Even as I write this I'm thinking, oh my god, am I really going to publish this?  Oh my god.) 

"God, I believe: help my unbelief."


  1. Thank God that you did publish this! I feel the exact same way that you do every single day of my life! My two selves pull me in all different directions and sometimes I just feel like I don't fit in anywhere! Because I do question my beliefs on a daily basis, I sometimes feel like a big fat fake in front of my "religious" friends. But at the same time, I have a desire to live an open, unabashedly spiritual be able to reflect on God's presence in my life out loud with other people....but my fear of being judged by my "liberal" friends stops me (which isn't to say that you can't be liberal and has just been my experience that liberals tend to be more religiously skeptical? I don't seems that way to me). Gah! So complicated! Thanks Jeanne Joe for being brave and sharing all this! I especially love, "I always take myself with me, whatever the situation." This can be so hard to do but it is SO important! :)

  2. Thanks so much for your response Janet! I was so nervous to post this, because I feel exactly like you most of the time; hypocritical among my religious friends and cowardly among my non-religious friends. So thanks for sharing your struggles with me too, because that encourages me. Such a huge part of this journey of faith is, well...a journey. Right? I am so heartened to know that you are also navigating these sometimes stormy, sometimes murky waters. And I would love to hear more of your thoughts and experiences anytime! xoxo!