Friday, July 27, 2007

Drive By Random Doubting

For the past few days, actually a couple of weeks, I have been having “second thoughts” that on occasion blast through my mind and try to shake my peace. Like "drive by doubting." They drive by, blast their ideas into my mind and leave me with holes to mend. Those in our old church (CLB) would point their finger and say, “See, we told you they would start to come to their senses.” I don’t believe that though. I realize that doubts are not a bad thing. It is only harmful if you suppress those doubts and pretend like they don’t exist. I was an expert in this field just a mere 4 months ago.

I wanted to start and maintain this blog for one reason. I wanted to have another story out there where someone could happen upon it and realize that they were not alone – that someone else was going through something similar. This helped me so much in the first few months of leaving our CLB. The ones who went before me were so honest. Their honesty helped me – even when they posted about their doubts. So today is about doubting our decision. I hope it helps someone else know that it is part of this process…at least for me.

I don’t want anyone to think that once we made our decision, there were no other doubts or thoughts or emotions that wanted to call into question our decision. The truth, at least for me, is far from that. There are times when I wonder, “What in the heck did we just do?” “Are we crazy?”

Listed below are some of the thoughts I have encountered in the past few weeks in a messy and random stream as thoughts often are.

What did we just do to our lives?

I want everything to just go back to the way it was. I want lots and lots of friends. I want to feel useful. I want to be busy. I want to feel as if I belong.

How am I going to make any friends at all outside of going to a service at least once a week to meet people?

I am not helping anyone “build the Kingdom of God.” I am not doing anything significant.

Are my kids going to be ok? How will they have friends that are good for them?

I feel like I am just treading water. What should we do now?

Who are we going to invite to my daughters wedding next year? What once was to be a huge gathering of friends is whittled down to a few. They have known her all her life. We were to share these things.

I hate to call people on the phone. How am I ever going to connect with people without that one or two services a week?

It is coming up on 3 months and there are women I would love to talk to. Should I call them? Should I ask their permission to call them? What if they won’t talk to me or their husbands won’t let them talk to me?

Should we start to do something more “formal” for our family on Sundays? Sometimes I hate the “non-structure” of this whole time.

Should we visit other churches?

Why isn’t God saying something? Why isn’t He instantly filling our hands with stuff to do? Don’t we need to be ministering? Building?

Can you hear the panic start to rise?

Of course it only takes a few minutes before reasoning sets in.

I know I can’t go back. I don’t really want to. I know that in all those years of “building the Kingdom” what was really happening on my part was not really that. I know I could never fit in again. I can’t even listen to Christian radio without cringing sometimes. I can’t go back and not question. I can’t be one of the followers who doesn’t make waves. I know I am in a process of the Father. I know I need to wait right now. I really am ok.

But today, I wanted you to see that you were not alone in your doubts. I’m sure you will feel this way too sometimes. If you don’t – good for you. It must be nice to be you where truth triumphs over feelings.
I’m not that way - at least not yet.

In closing, can I share with you something that I read this morning? It is from Inward/Outward. It brings truth, which for the moment, brings peace and helps to heal up the holes.
Trust in the Slow Work of God
By Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are, quite naturally,
impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the wayto something unknown, something new,
and yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability - and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually - let them grow,
let them shape themselves,
without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today
what time (that is to say, grace and
circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make them tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of
feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.


carol said...

Your post helped me this morning.
Thank you so much for sharing.

Erin said...

Do you have any idea how many times in 2 years I have posted that I was going back to church, that I was feeling called, led, unreleased...? Must be at least 20, and that's just the times I actually wrote about it. People must think me terribly inconsistent for saying "I'm going back" and then I don't.

Still to this day I have times when I'm like "Forget it, this is too darned hard, I give up". But then I wake up. ;-)

I think, in my experience, giving up the idea of not going to church at all is the hardest baggage to shed, it's the hardest thing for God to retrain in us. I sometimes wonder if, when I finally get that I am free, is when God will call me back (for real).

I do believe that a day may come for me (and for you) when the notion of returning to church - either the CLB or somewhere else - will give us nothing but peace. Until that my favorite words of my 4th grade teacher, "just keep plugging along..."

Linda said...

Been there! Again, I could have written all of this.

As far as reaching out to the women still there, if you are prepared for the possibility of rejection, go ahead. You don't have to obey any unwritten rules about staying away from people. Just be careful to guard your heart, and to realize that if you are rejected, it isn't a reflection on you.

I used to worry that we would die and not have anyone to bury us or come to the funeral (how silly is that!).

Marti G said...

I would have posted a comment, but I was feeling so doubtful and apathetic earlier this week, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Once again, I'm so right there with you.

Of all things, it was diving into Harry Potter 7 that renewed my sense of purpose and adventure, and I'm for a bit more of the journey...

Barb said...

You ladies are wonderful. It's in reading your journeys that I find that maybe I'm not all that crazy.

One other thing for everyone....Husband read my post and said from accross the room, "Hey honey, just so you know, I have never had any doubts...ever" Like I said in the post, must be nice being him. :)

Grace, I think I would feel more comfortable making contact with these women but I don't want to drive a wedge between them and their husbands. Most of them have very strong husbands that are totally caught up in the whole beliefe system. (I have found you either have husbands totally sold on the system (militant) or have husbands that are totally withdrawn (missing emotionally) - very few of the engaged but questioning and they don't last long.

Former Leader

Anonymous said...

I as usual a little late in commenting - but I was having the very same doubts too, toying with the idea of going back to church. One night, I had a dream where I was literally trapped in a church. They wouldn't let me go until a do a set of things, but I managed to escape and run the heck out of there ... to a shopping mall! The way my mind works...

Erin is right ... the desire to return to church is the biggest baggage we have to shed. I agree because we are tempted to return to church because church (the sunday services, etc) is a crutch for us. EVERYTHING is provided for us. We are passive - always fed information, relationships, ministries. As a result, we let go of the responsibility we have over our spiritual lives because the church is there to 'take care of it for us'.

That's why outside the church, it's more challenging, yet more rewarding because you're taking responsibility for your spirituality, and you're being active instead of passive in all things - you're the one initiating relationships, the serving, the feeding of your soul and knowledge.

Believe me, once you have taken that step, you realise that 'going back' isn't going to happen. As they say in the Matrix movies - once you've taken the pill there's no going back.

And when I mean "going back" it's not to the four walls church, but the mentality...


Love your post!

Watchman said...

One thing that helped me get through those initial doubts was when I compared my story to one of an addict. Addiction is nothing more than our exchanging self-control for the promise of reward. It could be drugs or alcohol or work or sex or worry. For me, I was addicted to the Church As We Know It.

The Church As We Know It promised me something and so I looked to it to reward me with a sense of place and purpose, a role of leadership, family security, friendships and so on. But like any drug, it could not deliver what I thought it was promising. So when I found myself without it, I went through withdrawl.

I apply this to what Paul wrote when said he would not be mastered by anything (ICor6). I was enslaved to my place and role in the Church As We Know It, but now have found freedom from needing it to validate me.

I hope for the same type of liberty for you.


Erin said...

I, too, have often considered "Church as we know it" to be an addiction - and like any addict, we struggle wanting to return to that thing which provided temporary fulfillment, but which was overall destructive in our lives.

I don't mean to say church is destructive for EVERYONE and everyone should abandon ship. I'm just speaking for those of us who have found church to be destructive and have chosen to "quit" it.

Watchman said...


i agree. there are those of us who have the tendency to look to our role in church as a means of validation. I would say most people aren't that way. i wish I was one of them, but i'm not. i would never say that the Church As We Know It is wrong. I'm more on the path of trying to give people permission to leave it if they find they are in turmoil because of it.

Barb said...

Really good comments Liz, Watchman and Erin. They are making me think even beyond what I wrote. Will be commenting on them more in another post.

Erin said...

Watchman- I DEFINITELY was one who looked to my roles in the church for validation and it got ugly. I never wanted people to look up to me because I knew who I really was, but it just happened because of my role. I didn't like who I was becoming in the church environment - so I left. Of course there are other reasons, too.

Anyhow - what I was going to say is I wasn't at all suggesting that you were encouraging people to leave - for the record.

But I don't know if I would say that "most" people aren't looking for validation in the church - I would say it's at least 50/50 but many just haven't realized it. I too desire to give people permission to leave because I have found so much peace.