There are certain things etiquette tells you not to discuss at a dinner party:
But here I am, about to break a cardinal rule by discussing another sensitive topic:
I'm not here to open a huge discussion (can of worms?) on faith. I'm not here to make the case for one viewpoint or another. And I'd really like to not set off any unintentional debates (as I know religion is something close to one's heart and often worth fighting for). I'm not angry or snarky. And really, I'm not sure where my thoughts are at this point. I just know I am struggling in this area of my life, and I need a place to process it. Since I don't want to get too wordy, I'll try to break it into several parts. I'll bring you part one today.
Part I: The Background
Perhaps it was the way I was raised (or maybe it is the innocence of childhood?), but I'd never doubted the existence of God. It wasn't implausible or unrealistic to believe in a great big other-world caretaker who lived in a wonderful place called heaven. But God was God, and He lived "up there" and I lived "down here" and apart from the smattering of "help me pass this test" prayers and the few Masses I attended yearly, there was no correlation between me and Him.
Fast forward several years. I'm a freshmen in High School. You remember high school, right? A crazy, volatile time in everyone's life. My freshmen year of high school was particularly so, as my world was rocked: the All-American Beaver Cleaver family I thought I had fell apart when my Dad (quite unexpectedly) announced that he was in love with another woman and he was leaving. Just like that. One day: awesome life. Next day: world crumbling. It was a hard few years of facing my parents divorce and all that it meant for my family (most posts on this to come, by the way). During that time, I had a great group of friends who were involved with Young Life.
Young Life was a great escape for my pain. I learned a lot while I was there. And soon, the idea of God became more personal. As I learned more about the bible, Jesus and the way the world was supposed to be, Christianity just made sense. At the time, it felt like coming home. I felt that by being in a relationship with God, I was putting my heart back in it's rightful place. I went on to not only participate in Young Life, but in college I became a Young Life leader. And after college (and a few years working as a social worker), I spent a year on staff with Young Life before Little Chica was born.
But Faith, whatever that means to you, is not always sunshiny happy place. Faith is where one turns when life gets hard. When the world is ugly. And soon, I found that the Faith I had sought refuge in and received life from was more complicated and unsettling than I knew. And I was firing more questions and frustrations than my Faith seemed to be able to answer.
Part II to come...