A chunk of months ago I had the most amazing conversation with a reader of Faith Shift about the fear involved in Unraveling once tightly held beliefs. It’s a long story, but there was a beautiful sincerity in her words that I know she isn’t alone in.
What if, at the end of the day, we go too far in this whole faith shifting thing?
What if there’s some elusive line that we cross over in our transformation that means that God’s done with us completely?
What if we wander so far off the path that there’s no getting back to any semblance of peace and we’re lost in the wilderness forever?
What if all this somehow leads us to sever, for a while, or forever?
What if… (I’m guessing you have a lot of thoughts that have swirled around in your head and can fill in this blank in all kinds of ways)
These “what if’s” can feel so terrifying, especially when we’ve been taught in much of our faith experience that our relationship with God is fully up to us.
That at some point God is just tired of our lack of belief.
That at some point God moves on because God’s got better things to do than watch us flounder and flail when we should know better.
That at some point God says, “Well, they’re on their own now. That’s what they wanted anyway.”
That at some point God washes his hands of us and lets us figure it out on our own.
I do not for a minute want to presume that I know anything about God 100% for sure so I always want to use caution with my words.
Everything I am banking on could be wrong (I hope not but I truly believe there’s so much we don’t know that it’s best to remember we won’t ever truly know this side of life).
But I do believe in every fiber of my being that no matter what–no matter what–God’s got us.
God’s got us.
We can be all over the place.
We can experiment with all kinds of crazy ideas.
We can leave everything we once knew.
We can doubt everything we once believed.
We can reject all kinds of things we used to embrace.
We can go off the deep-end spiritually and be in a theological free-fall.
We can be up and down and all around.
And God’s got us.
When I read the scriptures, I totally get how this can be a stretch at face value. I read the stories about God’s frustration with his people, about our ongoing idolatry and looking-for-love-in-all-the-wrong-places, about our stiff-neckness and God’s discipline.
But I also see a bigger beautiful story of a God who never ever, ever, ever gives up on people and is always at work in our lives–whether we see it, feel it, notice it, believe it.
No matter how much I am unsure of, I still believe God’s promise to never leave us, never forsake us.
That nothing can separate us from the love of God.
That when Jesus said it was finished, he meant it is finished (and it’s all beyond our ability to figure out and make it all work and line it all up and have anything be up to us).
That God’s mercy is greater than the law.
That as our parent, God will fight for us, seek us, pursue us, make-space-for-us, wait for us, believe in us, hope for us, relentlessly stick with us in the thick of it all as we make our way in this wild and beautiful world that we’re always trying to navigate.
That no matter what, God’s got us.
Oh, I know there’s all kinds of pushback to this. All the “But what about’s….” and “Yeah, but’s…” I can hear them all and make a list off the top of my head, too. I know those critiques are real and come from a passionate place I want to honor.
I think those are the micro-stories, important and challenging reminders that we humans will do all kinds of nutty, selfish, unhelpful, damaging things to ourselves & others.
But for some, if we only cling to those micro-stories we will easily believe we are lost and forget the meta-story, the one we need most when we are in spiritual upheaval and have no idea which end is up.
That God is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, compassionate enough, creative enough, simple enough, complicated enough, patient enough, present enough, wild enough to break through all the minutia and us picking apart what’s-too-much-and-what’s-not-enough and be with us in the midst of our ongoing formation.
That kind of security leads to freedom.
Not freedom to just do whatever we want, however we want, whenever we want, no matter what the consequence is to ourselves or other people.
But freedom to wrestle.
Freedom to seek.
Freedom to wait.
Freedom to question.
Freedom to know.
Freedom to wonder.
Freedom to try.
Freedom to fail.
Freedom to flounder.
Freedom to flail.
Freedom to separate.
Freedom to engage.
Freedom to keep growing, wrestling, transforming, moving, being, trying, practicing, because we know somehow, someway, no matter what, God’s got us.
God’s got us.
And for me, that is really good news.