In so many ways, I could deeply relate with this article I discovered about spirituality written by a gentleman who once authored a blog called The Agnostic Pentacostal. Interesting blog title, no? I was instantly intrigued by the concept. I resonated with it so much, as I believe it reflects much of the truth of my current situation as a believing Christian who is slowly becoming more and more willing–even eager–to admit those three scariest of words . . .
“I don’t know.”
Let me say up front that I have struggled with pride all of my life. Literally from infancy. I have wanted to be right more than I have wanted anything else in life for as long as I can remember. If knowledge is power, I was on my way to world domination. I just wanted to know all the right answers . . . understand all the mysterious concepts . . . believe all the important truths.
And that was what my faith stemmed from.
I was raised as a member of the Christian faith from day one. My parents were and are devout. They taught me unconditional love, but they also taught me right from wrong–and I clung to that. Now I didn’t just know the right answers. I didn’t even just know the right things to believe. I knew the right things to do. I knew everything that mattered.
Of course, as children how can we really know what matters? In high school and especially in college my faith was shaken by the simple and common experience of coming into contact with other people who “knew” what they believed just as much as I did. I experienced extreme stress as I wrestled with what I knew to be the truth, what others knew to be the truth, and whether or not any of us actually knew what we were talking about.
I became a debater. I thought it was my intelligence that made me so argumentative. Later I became willing to admit that it was my stubbornness. Looking back, I now know that it was fear.
Pretending that I knew the meaning of life or where I was going to go after I died forced me to pretend that I knew everything. Abortion, women’s roles in the church, sex, drinking, the afterlife–I was master of it all. I had to develop a persona–a fake me that looked like a girl thriving on confidence, hyper-intellectualism, and sometimes humiliation of people who pretended they knew were talking about. The girl was such a hypocrite.
I hated that girl. She had to go.
One day I had a conversation with my younger sister about a “truth” that we had been taught growing up that she had drawn a very different conclusion about in her adulthood. I was still clinging to my Sunday School lessons and was so ready to tell her how wrong she was. Then I had a thought– “I love my sister. Why would I hurt her feelings by telling her she’s wrong when I can’t prove that?” It honestly hurt me to think about it. “What if–what if she’s not wrong?” I swallowed my pride, smiled and said the unthinkable,
“You could be right. I don’t know.”
She smiled too and said, “Wow, you’ve changed.”
I can’t even begin to explain or describe the peace that has come over me since making this change.
All I know is that I like the me who admits she doesn’t know better than the me who thinks she does.
Now I don’t want to know the “truth” or the “right answer” nearly as much as I want to
- know myself,
- know the people of this world where I’ve been placed,
- and know the God who placed me here.
That is faith to me.
I don’t know why bad things happen . . . but I will praise God in the midst of them.
I don’t know if homosexuality is a sin . . . but I will not sin by casting judgment.
I don’t know if I believe in evolution . . . but why not? I have evolved so much myself in such a short time.
I want to keep evolving. I want to keep changing. I want to keep moving. My faith is a fluid thing, and I think my God wants it that way.