On Good Friday of this year, I mustered up every bit of gumption I had, called my friend Randi, and quietly spoke these words: “I think I’m reconstructing my faith.” I lay there on my bed, lights off and fan whirring, hoping to drown out the sound of the words I had been too afraid to say. I’m not sure who exactly I was trying to hide those words from. My husband? No—I definitely wanted to tell him. God? No—he already knew.
As my words settled into the darkness, reaching through sound waves from my bedroom in Chicago to Randi’s car moving along a Los Angeles freeway, a thousand questions began to tumble from my lips. Questions that had been itching under my skin for more than a decade, dancing on the tip of my tongue, buzzing in my brain like flies trapped in a window pane. Choose your uncomfortable metaphor; I was feeling it.
I’d been afraid to ask these questions for a laundry list of reasons: I’m not supposed to doubt, question, or wrestle with my faith. I’ll open up a million rabbit trails. Maybe I won’t like the answers. Maybe I’ll never find the answers. Maybe there are no answers. Maybe I’ll end up alone and with nothing.
But at some point, the levee breaks and you have to deal with the aftermath.
It turns out, I was right: this process of figuring out who God really is and what my faith is all about did open up endless rabbit trails. I’ve ordered close to a dozen books from Amazon and added countless more titles to my GoodReads list. I’ve spent hundreds of hours listening to podcasts about the person of Jesus, the Bible, church history, and ancient Judaism. I’ve lost track of the time I’ve spent devouring blogs and articles, always thinking “just one more.”
But it turns out, I was also wrong: I am, in fact, supposed to wrestle with my faith. The Bible is filled with stories of people trying and struggling and failing and trying again to make sense of God. Throughout church history, Christians have revised and reformed and reworked ideas and institutions that were broken. My own life is marked by people who have been trying day by day to figure out what God wants them to do, and who have since scrapped that question in favor of asking who God is.
Part of me was afraid to admit my questions out loud and usher in this long process of reconstructing my faith, because I was afraid I’d be all alone in it. Will anyone else understand? Will I be shunned by my church? Will my family think I’ve gone crazy? But what I’ve found instead is a community of people who were already on the journey and who were eager to welcome me into their fold. More than information in the podcasts and books and blogs I’ve been consuming, I have found a community of people who are asking the very same questions, doubting the very same approaches, and wrestling with what it means to be someone who loves Jesus right here, right now. People who are doing their best to learn God and love people with what they’ve been given.
As I approach Advent this year, mere months since my Good Friday admission, I do so with a deeper sense of wonder than I can remember from years past. I had initially feared that pulling even one thread would cause the whole tapestry of my faith to unravel, leaving me with empty hands. But perhaps that was the problem all along: thinking that God could fit into my hands, could be manipulated by my hands in the first place. I suppose it wasn’t me who was weaving the tapestry all this time; it’s God who has been grafting me into the story of his people.
So I keep walking into the unknown, believing I will find a loving God there, far away from the baggage I’ve left behind. And as I take each shaky step, I reach out for the hands of people who are here with me, imagining new questions now that we aren’t bound by the old answers.