Mending a broken faith

Posted by Kenetha Stanton on


Image by xresch from Pixabay

I grew up believing that Christianity held all the answers. I don't know if I got this directly from the Southern Baptist churches I grew up attending or whether it's an idea that I manufactured on my own from what I learned there. I just know that I was convinced that if I could just be a good enough Christian, I'd have the answers to all of life's problems. I'd know how to do things right.

And I worked hard at being a good enough Christian. I read the Bible. I memorized verses. I read my Sunday School lessons before going to class (and, in fact, often knew the lesson better than the teacher). I prayed regularly. I listened to Christian music. I was at church Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Monday nights, Wednesday nights, and Thursday nights (at minimum). I was in the Youth Choir, the Sanctuary Choir, and the Church Orchestra. I read Christian books. I was a staunch creationist. I supported conservative politics. I recommitted my life regularly just to make sure I'd gotten it right and meant it enough.

I tried so hard to get it all right ... but it never worked.

As I grew into adulthood, the illusion that Christianity as I had known it held all the answers continued to crumble. My sense of God's calling me to ministry flew in the face of the "known" answer that God can only call men, forcing me to choose between faithfulness to God or to Christianity—a distinction I couldn't even begin to fathom at the time. My marriage (entered into way too young) crumbled when I just could not be as obedient as I was expected to be. The more I studied the Bible, the more I realized that it wasn't as simple a guidebook with all the answers as I'd been led to believe. And as I finally came to terms with the fact that I am a woman who loves women—something I'd known since I was ten but had been hiding from even myself for decades—the last pieces of the faith I had known cracked and broke.

Not only was the broken container that was once my faith no longer any use to me—as a broken bowl is no longer useful—but it also left behind fragments with jagged, sharp edges that cut deeply whenever I ventured too close. But my spiritual thirst remained unquenched. I journeyed through all kinds of other religious and spiritual traditions looking for a new source for all the answers, but there was none to be found that gave me what I was looking for.

And so, in time, I have found my way back to Christianity as the only place that meaningfully engages me spiritually, but as I put the pieces of my faith back together, I am finding that it no longer looks the same. I no longer expect my faith to give me all of the answers to life; instead, I look to my faith to help me craft better questions about life. My "bowl" of faith no longer holds certainties; it is filled with mysteries and a growing ability to rest in the unknown.

My repair of this "bowl" of faith is still a work in progress. There are still sharp, jagged edges that cut me when I am not expecting it. But I think this "bowl" of faith that is being created now is turning out to be something more beautiful and more precious than anything it ever could have been before it broke.

I guess that makes it a kintsugi-style faith that I'm creating. And I'm ok with that.


 

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