Monday, July 13, 2009

No Dogma, No Doctrine, Just Faith

Which is what I am sorely in need of at the moment.

At first I thought that perhaps I had been so focused on rejecting anything even remotely resembling dogma or doctrine in my life for so long that I had cast aside faith at the same time. But then I realized that wasn't quite so. That irregardless of dogma or doctrine, I have no faith. None.

That wasn't always so. As a pre-teen, likely into my early teen years, I had a very strong faith. A very strong belief in and love of God; a deep, sure knowledge of what He wanted from me and an absolute desire to live my life that way. And, in return, I knew the final result. I knew that He promised would come to pass. Wasn't life simple then?

But that was before I drifted away from the Witnesses. Away from the Witnesses, but towards nothing else, I guess.

Yes, I believe in God. Yes, I believe that He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die for our sins. Yes, I believe the Bible is God's word. The problem is that it all seems to end there. That although I do, honestly, *believe* all that, it seems to have no connection to my life. That what I know with certainly in my "head" does not resonate in my "heart".

Okay, it may not be quite that simple, not quite that cut and dried, but it's close enough for the purposes of this post.

As a child, I was taught that "Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for". And yet, over the course of the last several years, I have come to believe that hope is bad for the soul.

Born out of the Blue Jay's health issues, I learned that when you actually begin to hope for something, you truly begin to believe that it might just be true. And then, when you find out otherwise, it's devastating. But if you have no hope, if you expect nothing, anything good that comes your way is gravy. A blessing. Something to be treasured and appreciated. All up the up, none of the down.

When Mom was so sick in the hospital last year, I struggled with the concept of "hope". Or, more accurately, with the idea that there could be some form of good, some form of hope, to be found in the situation. That there was even any point, any value, in looking for any.

I recall reading one of the books the palliative care team provided me, entitled "Finding Hope" and mulling over a blog post on the subject. The book that promised to help me find and nurture hope in my life came up short.

But to cut to the chase (a little too late for that, I suppose), the bottom line is that I have no faith that I will ever see my Mom again. It's not just that I don't believe I will ever see her again. It's that I believe I will never see her again.

And that ... that just hurts. Indescribably so.

In a few weeks, we will take a trip out West to visit my brother, do some traveling and then, finally, bury my Mom's ashes next to Dad. And as that time draws closer, I am left with a renewed sense of overwhelming longing and loss.

This, my friends, is not closure. It's agony, pure and simple.

It's life without hope faith.


tam said...

what can I say? Or do? to help you? sucks. We'll be spreading Dad's ashes soon - but that's another whole tale for another time.

Whatever I can do for you, just pick up the phone and call.

Much love,

Pogue said...

I wish I could help with the closure, but of course I can't. I will tell you that for me as long as I can close my eyes and see the people I've lost and remember the good and bad times together, they're not gone. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear of your loss. It seems as though you're dealing with disappointment, despair and grief all at the same time... quite a heavy load. I wish following Christ made life easier or more pleasant, and sometimes it does, but I’ve found that faith is not force field keeping the troubles of life away. Rather it’s the persistent belief that even though my emotions are screaming the opposite I can truly afford to take God at His word. Jesus said that will in the world we would have tribulations; as you are now quite aware -- and He also said He would never leave us or forsake us. I don’t know if that helps you any or not but at least consider this: I accidently clicked on your link from a comment you posted over on Lex’s blog and read of your plight, felt compelled to offer you some attempt at consolation and hope that you can now at least dare to believe that God hasn’t forgotten you and is mindful of your situation. He still cares about you. Rick in Texas.

Kris, in New England said...

Oh Michelle, I know where you are at and it's a very hard place to be.

After my beloved dad died - the center of my universe, the rock who helped me navigate my way thru all that life threw at me - I hated God. Pure and simple. How could a wise God allow my dad - not a perfect man but a wonderful father - die. My world was dark for so very long after daddy died - I had no faith in anything or anyone, most especially myself.

I ache for what you are feeling and there are no words anyone can give you that will help. It's an experience only you can get yourself thru.

With the help and support of friends near and far - yes. But ultimately you will come to a better place in your mind. It may not allow God back in - I eventually did but it took me about 10 years after he died. Yet I practice my spirituality in a private way.

And I believe my dad is all around me, all day every day. But it took me over 10 years to get to that point of acceptance of things unseen.

Call it faith if you want. Call it a spiritual belief that there is more to us than our fleshly existence.

But whatever you call it - you will find something that will give you peace. Answers to question that seem unfathomable right now.

Hugs are coming your way right now - in the hopes that as you get your way thru this you will find it within yourself to accept those things that are unseen - but very real.

MMC said...

Tam, you do of course see the irony in the fact that you're making these comments to me. Considering they should be going the other way. *HUGS*

Thanks, Rick and Pogue, I really appreciate your sentiments. Kris, I think you're right that this is something that is going to take time (maybe quite a long time) to work through. I'm not at all mad at God. Actually, I think being angry at Him would be a step forward in a way in that being angry with Him would take a much stronger connection than I have at the moment.

I do know I need help to get through this (the spiritual side, I mean). I could have chosen from various grief support groups locally. But I chose the one Christian one and I think that was done at some level very intentionally. But finding the right person(s) to help me work though this in a non-demoninational (or maybe I should say, nondoctrinal) sort of way is going to be a very big challenge, I think.

I don't want someone to tell me what to believe. I do need someone to help me find my own beliefs. And help me figure out how to reconnect with God again. Unfortunatley, I tend to be a little hyperviligant when I get within 100 miles of anyone who sounds in the slightest way like they're trying to convince me that their way is the right way. So, yeah, a bit of a challenge.