April 25, 2012

From the Potholes of my Heart


This weekend shook me in the way a small rock hits the windshield and shatters the entire pane of glass. We saw a movie, Blue Like Jazz.  It's the story of a man's search for God. At the end I cried--wept, really. It wasn't a tragedy. It wasn't even a sad ending. My husband asked me later why I cried.

All I could think to say was that the main character said what I've been unable to say myself.

I grew up in Christian sub-culture, and, in the beginning, I tried to live up to the their status. But the more I tried, the more obvious it was that I couldn't. Failure to be perfect is a guarantee. My mask crumbled.


I stopped talking about God because I didn't know what I thought of Him. I didn't want to be falsely trying to explain what I couldn't explain. I believed He existed although I couldn't say why. I was afraid to talk about my beliefs because I'm not an intellect. But my thoughts on what I read in Scripture did not match up to what I was hearing. How could I come to a place of belief without going against what seemed right?

I'm not a good arguer--most people can "win" an argument with me; I'm not quick with words on my feet. Give me a pen however, and you might have some competition. But in an argument about God, I won't win.

I know there are people who argue for and against Him that could probably both convince me. But all I know is what I've felt, and I've felt Him.


If you ask me theological questions, I won't venture to answer them. I recently played Bible trivia and found I have a huge amount of knowledge about the Bible, but I doubt I've ingested a spoonful of it. I'm wowed by how beautiful, horrible and soul-cracking the stories in Scripture are. They're not fluffy happily-ever-after ones. They're more like Grimm's Fairy Tales. 

Why am I telling you all this? Because I've always looked at this blog as a place where I sit across from a friend over coffee, telling about things I'm working on, things I love, or have learned. I want you to know I've struggled with this. I'm still working out what believing in God looks like. I'll probably share my journey with you from time to time, and I hope that's okay.


35 comments :

  1. I want you to share this journey. Faith is something I struggle with, more than anything else in my life. I have tucked that struggle away, thought 'I'll deal with that later' So I am always impressed when people confront it and try to understand. I'll be reading with interest. :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing so honestly, Melissa. I've often wondered if faith is MEANT to be a struggle. Maybe that's what makes it beautiful, like a gem being cut out of rock.

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  2. i feel you on this...have not seen the movie but def enjoyed the book and donald millers other books too...i def find it relatable...and faith is not always as straightforward as what we were sold as kids...

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    1. No, it often feels like twisted path. Thanks for sharing, Brian.

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  3. your pictures are just beautiful...I love the book blue...but have not seen the movie...over all these years I have come to the conclusion debating does much for the mind but little for the soul...blessings as you continue to allow God to show you who He really is...an unfolding mystery.

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    1. That line: "debating does much for the mind but little for the soul" -- Wow. Thank you for sharing Ells.

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  4. It's funny. I had given up on religion (and I thought God) a long time ago. My experiences had done nothing but convince me that the whole thing made no sense. But my thoughts kept going back to the belief part itself. I was never really sure how it's supposed to work and so many of the people I discussed it with were so strongly for one of the sides that I just couldn't follow their intensity. It's just been in the last 2 or 3 years that I've started to read some books, fiction books, that have shown me a different side of belief. One that I can identify with. I've been slowly moving back to a place that I'm hoping will be comfortable. I'll have to get this book from the library...

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    1. Thanks for sharing your journey. I love hearing how other people have walked through this. Books have made a huge impact in my understanding too. If you read Blue Like Jazz, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

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  5. Catherine, this post struck a chord with me as well. I've had plenty of times in my life when I've struggled with faith. For me it's a constant effort to keep my life centered and my focus on the things that matter. I'm in a good place now. I feel God's love daily and know that he is there watching over me, but I haven't always felt that way. I wish you luck in your journey. I'll be back to see how things are going. :)

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    1. It makes me happy that this struck a chord with you. This is one of my most vulnerable posts to date and the responses have been precious. I'm glad you're in a good place. :)

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  6. We're all on a journey. If God changed us all at once, our sad little heads would pop off. I love learning more about His character. I love knowing that--more than anything--He just wants authentic relationships with us. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. That's an interesting point, Brandee. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Lot's of truth here. I appreciate your desire to share; helps all of us on the journey to know how others are doing on their journey. Peace today to you.

    -Bob

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    1. I agree; it always helps me to hear the journey of others. Thanks, Bob.

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  8. Catherine, how interesting you should post this. I have devoured ALL of Don Miller's books and read Blue Like Jazz twice. I am dying to see the movie now.

    Trust me when I say you are not alone in your thoughts and struggles on faith and what to believe.

    I had a friend who died of breast cancer in her late 30's leaving five children behind from teenage to age two! She was a strong strong Christian and an influence in my life. It literally rocked my world when she died. I am still sorting it out and it's been pushing four nears now I think.

    Thanks for sharing this. We having something more to talk about it seems.

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    1. I'm so sorry about your friend and I understand why that would be difficult to sort through. I've lost two friends this year and both times it rocked me. Thanks for sharing so deeply. Yes, we'll have much more to talk about! :)

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  9. Wow, Catherine, beautiful post. I think it's perfectly acceptable and actually preferable to struggle in our relationship with God. If we accepted everything we were spoon fed, our belief would be pretty pathetic. Struggle is hard, but it's a good thing. Jacob wrestled with God and got a new name out of it. I think we all reach that point at one time or another. Thank you for sharing so honestly about it! <3

    xoxo
    Amy

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    1. "Jacob wrestled with God and got a new name out of it. I think we all reach that point at one time or another." Wonderfully said. I like the idea of getting a new name, of starting again and being changed. Thank you, Amy.

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  10. I love your honesty, Catherine. I believe that faith, and holding on to our JOY in believing, is a daily struggle--sometimes even a FIGHT. It's warfare, and even though God's Word tells us to put on the full armor of God to withstand all those attacks of doubt, I don't think that armor was meant to make us look stronger than we really are. It seems like we must take two (seemingly) opposing stands, both at the very same time: fighting as desperately as we can to keep trusting in Him, but letting down our guard and being vulnerable with each other--being honest about our struggles. I think all of this struggle is the fire in which our faith is being perfected and revealing God as One who is bigger than all our doubts and fears, One who loves to be in RELATIONSHIP with us, even when that relationship includes a lot of honest questioning, One who will never loosen His grip on us even when it feels we are falling.

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    1. And the title of your post is really good--sounds like it could be a book title!

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    2. Girl, you are the QUEEN of honest posts. I think that's why I'm so drawn to you and your blog. "One who will never loosen His grip on us even when it feels we are falling"--I'll be chewing on that all day. And as for the title, I thought about saying caverns but didn't think it was quite deep enough for that. I'll keep "book title" in mind. Ha.

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  11. I am in the spot where I don't talk about Him because I just feel like I don't know enough. I know "enough" but don't feel qualified to truly represent in the way I think I should. Like, I'm still too much a work in progress and I just hope that is an okay witness for now- people see that and know, and that's what I have to share. :)

    Steph

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    1. Your transparency is beautiful, Steph. And I get what you mean.

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  12. ahhhh
    so beautiful
    your open hearted post and all these amazing comments
    gorgeous
    and I so thank you for sharing these pot holes with us, as I have them in my path too
    the best thing we can do for one another is be honest about our challenges so that we all can see we all have them : )
    this topic is so dear to my heart, such a personal part of my life, my practice, my daily breathe
    so I love reading about this through others eyes...thank you
    I would love to talk deep with you about this Catherine if you ever would like to...not selling anything, lol...just discussion and sharing ones another's experiences
    what I will share here is in my very colourful and formerly often dark path of life I have come to know that God/Source/Love/The Great Spirit meets you where ever you are at...God is not offended by our uncertainty or questioning and Love is there for us in abundance...we do not have to earn it.

    bless you as you walk this beautiful journey of discovery Catherine
    I think this song is for you
    http://loveandlight-cat.blogspot.ca/2012/04/monday-offeringfor-you.html
    : )

    Love and Light

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    1. Thank you, Cat. I agree, being honest with each other is one of the most potent gifts we can give. I feel you're right about God not being offended by our questions, but sometimes I still struggle with that. I would welcome talking about this!

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  13. do we and can we ever know all there is about God?

    I look forward to reading about your journey

    shall have to look out for that movie :)

    LOVE the flowers :)

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    1. I think the answer to that is no. :) Thank you, and yes, check it out. It's not a church-y movie though, just warning you.

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  14. Such a great post, Catherine. I think this is something all believers go through. I went to a private Christian high school and I led worship in church for years, and I'm still struggling with burn-out. I talk to God all the time, but I don't really dive in the word and try to learn anything new, which I need to get back into. I don't want to just float through life without honoring Him.
    I've heard great things about the book Blue Like Jazz, but I had no idea there was a movie too! I'll have to look into it. Hopefully it was well done, because there's nothing that makes me cringe more than a poorly-made movie that's trying to get a good message out there.
    Thanks for sharing what's in the potholes of your heart :)
    <3

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    1. I really appreciate hearing a bit of your story, Kristin. The book is amazing. I really enjoy the way he writes. As for the movie, (which just came out) it's not exactly like the book; it's fiction BASED on overall themes of the book. I thought it was well done. I know what you mean about cringing; bad plot/acting can really distract me, but this kept me intrigued. Also should mention it's not a family-friendly film in my book.

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  15. I grew up knowing God. And yet, when the "answers" given by the church did not do anything to address the very real issues I was wrestling with, I concluded that God had given up on me and walked away. Through some very tough stuff, God brought me back, teaching me that His love never fails. The journey is still far from smooth and I often wrestle with my faith, yet I know that He is there...Although some days, my inner angsty teenager has a good yell at Him...Perhaps the older I get, the more accepting my heart will be..:)

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    1. It sounds like a beautiful journey. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Wow, this is great! Thanks so much for sharing and your open honesty. I think that kind of life is much more powerful than someone who always has the answers. :)

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    1. I appreciate your sweet words, Esther. :)

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  17. Catherine, I so love and appreciate your desire to explore who you are and what makes you tick. The trust you share with *us* is a gift. Truly.

    I believe there is no *right* answer.
    There is only *your* answer, and *your* journey through this wide, expansive Universe of light and darkness, to seek out the balance and peace within it.

    I believe the journey is to find ourselves. To choose Love over Fear. And perhaps even to accept the necessity of the journey. No one *wants* to struggle. No one *wants* to endure the pain of loss. No one *wants* to feel lost and alone in a crowd. Perhaps, Faith, is simply our hearts and minds opening up to possibility. Perfection is not required.

    I'm not one for debate either. Particularly where God or Religion are concerned. Faith is a personal journey, no matter the end result. As human beings, it is our nature to question, to seek a *truth* that resonates with *us*... NOT a *truth* designed and constructed for us.

    Love and Light to All, on their journey!

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    1. Thanks for these words, Scarlett, and for seeing it as a gift. :)

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