A good friend of mine is getting married in June. They are getting married in the church that I attended for several years (some of them happily as I “worked out my faith”, others of them miserable and struggling as my faith started to crumble).
I’m anxious about being in that church the day of her wedding. Especially if my (atheist) boyfriend is with me. Because as much as I love my boyfriend, I still struggle with the loss of my faith community and roots.
For many of my adult years, I saw myself getting married in that church, with a clerical blessing and community pledge to support my God-centered marriage. I won’t quite know what to do with the sadness, nostalgia, and worry that I think I’m going to experience once I walk through those doors. To wit: am I making a mistake planning a future with a man who is not spiritually wired and who can’t really relate to my faith background except in an intellectual way? Is my anticipated anxiety really a call from the Holy Spirit to turn back to God (as some will surely argue)?
And what about my envy of my friend? If God had only answered my prayers for a mate sooner, more obviously, more directly, maybe my faith would not have unraveled as it did. My friend’s romance is one of those miraculous-sounding stories where the 30-something “old maid” Christian woman waits on God. For years God appears to be doing nothing. And then one day He delivers, like a lightning bolt, her husband-to-be.
But me? God didn’t answer my prayers. And when I reflected on why he hadn’t answered my prayers, the foundations started to crack. I’ve documented much of that falling apart here on this blog. It has been an excruciating process in which I lost the safety and security of a faith-based world view, I lost the moorings on which my morals and values rested, I lost the “faith-kinship” closeness that had previously marked many of my friendships.
Sometimes I wish I could put the pieces back together. But I don’t think I can. Now that I fundamentally question the whole salvation storyline, there’s no way to simply reverse the clock and settle myself back into a pew comfortably. But I feel like a part of me is missing, or empty, or nostalgic, or scared, or something. I don’t know exactly what it is or what to do with it. Agnosticism or even atheism rings more true to me intellectually, but emotionally, something in me still wants there to be a God.
I know I will go to the wedding, and be joyful for my friend, who has wanted nothing more than to be married for as long as I’ve known her. But the whole thing begs the question: why has God been so seemingly present to her, and so glaringly absent to me?