For the past 3 days, I’ve been at an all time low. My physical, mental, and spiritual well-being have been in an absolute rut.
I’m overworked, overstressed, and altogether just burnt out. Everything that I had been doing before was at an optimal amount (or so I thought) in terms of balancing the number of hours I work, the amount of time I spend on classwork, the quality time spent with close loved ones and new friends, and time spent on working out and staying healthy. Yet, once I got sick, everything just went out of whack. One by one, everything went to shambles (not to add the housing situation for next year as well. Signing a lease for a year from now and thinking about the future added to my fast spiral downward).
I’ve been having doubts. Doubts about the existence of God. Doubts about whether or not my “personal relationship” with God is a psychological mental construct, and whether or not its just me rationalizing things (like the changes in my heart’s nature and my desires in life) and connecting together the dots and saying that it’s God, when its really just coincidences. Ironically, it was after a Sunday sermon about the Holy Spirit where I started thinking about this.
To add to the irony: when I was riding on a spiritual high, I had a moment where I thought, “Hey, I should learn about other religions and see where these religions fail and Christianity prevails,” which started my research. Yet, the more I researched, the more I realized that these religions are often distinct to these regions and that these people genuinely believed in these religions. That got me thinking…what if I’m only Christian because it’s convenient and it’s what’s available/mainstream in America? What if I’m brainwashed and I’ve succumbed to this cult-like thinking (to put it bluntly and to an extreme)? I mean, in church, they say that when you’re weak in your faith, then you must lean on the Lord for strength. That almost becomes a self-affirmative, positive feedback loop, don’t you think? If this awesome God exists, then it makes sense. But if you aren’t pursuing the true God, then it goes back to my issue where I think that its a psychological mental construct. All these people (i.e. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists, etc) genuinely believe in their faith and genuinely believe that their reality and beliefs is the ultimate truth — how can I know that my faith is the truth and I am not just like them?
I don’t want to be a blind believer. I don’t want to be a Christian simply because “it just makes sense” and it’s what is convenient and because I’m too lazy to put more effort into finding out the truth and pursuing the true God. I want to challenge myself, to question everything, and hopefully, to have God answer those questions in His ways. I know that, deep down, at heart, I’m an empiricist — I need those cold, hard facts and research/data to support claims. However, I also recognize that at a certain point, I cannot rationalize and logically claim certain things. As my dear friend Nicole put it, if you could rationalize God, would that make him a God worth worshipping?
For now, I want to gather all that I can and research all that I can. I want to test my faith and create that foundation and understand the basics, see what makes Christianity different and see what makes the Bible the true word of God and what makes Jesus Christ my savior. I want to understand what makes God real and experience that personal relationship with Him. It is one thing to say that you believe you have that relationship; it is another to actually have it.
Luckily, I have an awesome, supportive community of believers and non-believers in my pursuit of the truth. My discipleship group, my bible study, my roommates/hallmates, my close friends, everyone. Even though they may disagree with me , they still support me in the most non-judgmental way possible.
I will say this: Even though I’m questioning the existence of a God and a personal relationship with God, deep down in my heart, I still do believe that He exists.
Not out of habit, not out of ease, but something else. There has been a plethora of awesome people (i.e. Sam, McKenzie, Andrea, Lauren, Debbie, Nicole, Bailey, Christina, Caitlin, Anna, etc) placed into my life, guiding me and supporting me in my spiritual walk, and the existence of these priceless friendships and beautiful souls and the beauty of this world are good indications of Something More in this world.
As an empiricist and scientific thinker, I obviously can’t have a bias either way. However, I do believe that if there is a God out there, he would want me to question everything and to doubt and to test my faith. He doesn’t want a half-assed follower — He would want someone completely, 100% for him, passionately in love with Him, putting Him at the center of their life and prioritizing Him before all else.
I think this will be a beautiful thing. I’ve started reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and I’m going to read The Case for Christ. Also, I’m going to be doing my personal research on different religions, as well as the historical, empirical data for the Bible and its accuracy/credibility.This is a big, life-changing project, but its rewards will be bountiful and it will be worth all the heartbreak, sweat, tears, and pain.