I got a message from someone this morning. I’ve only met her many times. I know her son. But we haven’t talked in years. So I found it strange and out of the blue to receive it. Here’s part of the message:
“I remember when you left the ministry and I appreciate the struggles that your post outlined. Nowhere though, did you say whether you have lost your faith in the Lord. That is my simple question. Are you still a believer?”
I’m sharing this because I know many of you face this same problem: How do I answer this?
So here are my thoughts:
1. She’s a very nice lady and I know she’s asking because she’s sincerely concerned. If I thought the way she did, I would be concerned as well. I couldn’t ignore her. There’s no point in me being unkind to a genuinely kind person.
2. That being said, it is interesting to me these days that people ask this question. I do realize that in the circles she moves in, as once did I, it’s totally game to ask this question. In the circles I move in now it would be considered highly inappropriate and invasive. So I feel no compulsion to spill my guts.
3. I asked Lisa what she thought I should say. Yes, this created quite a little crisis for me so I asked her for help. You see, I’m trying to write my “position paper”, my Manifesto, the Z-Theory, so I can just copy and paste a response to these kinds of inquiries. But I’m not there yet. She suggested just to say that even though I don’t use those words anymore, that yes I’m a believer because I do believe in something and rest your case… because I just don’t have the words or the time to explain right now. My new tagline is “Art Beyond Belief” so I felt to be a person of integrity I had to be a little more specific… that I don’t reject belief but I feel I’ve moved beyond it.
4. So that’s what I did. Here’s what I wrote. It’s brief because we were just heading out the door to take Lisa out for Mother’s Day:
“Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness and concern. I wouldn’t say I lost my faith or belief but that it has evolved to something beyond it… not rejecting it but transforming into a kind of knowing. I consider Christianity as my family of origin and still my home, although I say I have cottages everywhere. Thanks for your kind thoughts.”
5. These kinds of conversations are always dissatisfying to me because they don’t seem real. They don’t touch my heart. They are heady exchanges. The concern is for theological correctness and the cultural spiritual conformity of the kind of religion we were a part of. It feels like a test rather than a dialog, and in the end I wonder if, in her eyes, I passed or failed.
Thanks for listening.