A time I reinvented myself
I was losing my faith. I was crushed by ever-increasing doubts about God - trying to hide it and continue to appear to be a Christian, hating myself for my hypocrisies and failure to live up to my own standards, angry that I had to have standards - why should I follow these moral code when I wasn’t even sure if it mattered at all, especially when so many other Christians I saw didn’t.
I was sitting on the bathroom floor of my flat. Cracked tiles, water-damaged flooring, I didn’t care. I’d finally, in full awareness, admitted to myself that I didn’t believe God existed. At all. The earth rushed away and everything faded to black as I thought about my complete insignificance, the meaninglessness of everything I loved and cared about - the pointlessness of the entire human species. Everything. Meaningless.
A time I uninvented myself
I was angry at God for not existing, at myself for not believing, for caring still. I was angry for not being happy - there were many good things in my life - I had no hardships external to my mind, no difficulties I hadn’t made for myself out of thin air.
I was walking down the street, thinking about the cars zipping past. What it would be like to just step out in front of one. Crunch? squelch? thud? What would it do to the driver who killed me. Would it even work? would I even get the nerve to? (Spoiler warning: Hi)
I was in a church, silently standing next to people singing songs to a God I’d given up believing in. Yet I was crying, sobbing. I realised how close I’d come, I couldn’t trust my mind to give me sensible options any more if I was in a place where suicide was reasonable. I released my hold on my life. I told my friend what I’d been thinking. He told my parents. We told my doctor. I told a counsellor. People cared. Not just the still-theoretical driver.
I was unable to continue trying to appear as a Christian, trying to claim to be a Christian without a shred of faith. I turned to myself again, and fled from everything internal. I declared myself an Atheist. Problem solved. Ignoring the darkness. Living as a shadow of myself, but at least an untroubled one. I was still loved and accepted by my friends and family which took me (unreasonably) by surprise.
A time I re-reinvented myself
I was bored. Hollow. I saw no more reason to be an Atheist than to be a Christian if Atheism was true. Truth has no value in a universe with no value. I remembered the goodness of Christ, the desire for God, I began to doubt my disbelief and think about my motives for disbelieving. To think about all the things I knew about God, and was ignoring for the purposes of thinking my atheism obvious. I am now convinced this return was orchestrated by God - I had to reject God to learn the truth. Christianity is not a game or a test of yourself. It’s not a series of practices and appearances, or a lifestyle choice.
A time I was reinvented
I was frustrated. I had been a Christian again for a year or more. I wasn’t in the place I’d been before, but I felt stuck. I felt trapped. I was always seeing myself being incredibly violent in my mind’s eye. I knew the cause: I was once again trying to appear Christian under my own steam - although this time round I was fully aware of it. I was trying to manufacture belief.
I felt God tell me he was going to show me a good vision. Then I had an overwhelming sense of Truth. It was thick. Red. I felt an inexplicable sense of complete conviction. I knew, without doubt, God is real. I knew that sense of truth was both more than I could handle and yet only the tiniest fragment. I knew then that faith wasn’t by careful reason, it wasn’t by enacting rituals, it wasn’t by anything I could do myself. Faith is a gift, undeserved. Like salvation. Like life. It’s not something innate - we pushed it away and picked up sin instead. It’s not something we can build or earn.
God taught me all this the long was round. I pray your journey doesn’t go as low or as broken. But I pray that whatever it takes you will meet Truth.