Feeling Better About the Gray in my Life

It’s hard to admit, and I guess I’ve never flat out stated it on my blog, but I struggle with my faith.  You long time readers, I’m sure, were well aware of this.  I know some of you are thinking that as confused as I sometimes get, you know I’m on the right track, but then again, I bet there’s a good number of you who think I’m totally lost with my questioning and some of my more liberal thinking, politically and theologically speaking.

Yesterday I was comforted by something my friend Andy posted on his blog.  Andy and I have never really hung out but knew each other as we both attended the same Bible community at Irving Bible Church.  We both just really respected each other and even attended each others wedding.  Somehow he kept track of me and became a pretty loyal reader of this blog and I’ve added his blog to my RSS reader for quite some time now.

What I found comforting was his courage to share his struggles with his Christian faith and how he too came from a Baptist/Evangelical background.  Heck, we both even attended Baptist colleges, so I feel I can really relate to the guy.

Below is a piece he shared, and even though I’ve taken a decent chunk of it, I don’t think he would mind me posting it here as it’s something that might help others who have a similar struggle.  I kind of started it in a odd place as the “we” he is referring to is one of his friends.

We both grew up in the Baptist tradition, which in our case emphasized (among other things) Biblical inerrancy, apologetics, and certainty of one’s faith. For a given spiritual question, such as the Problem of Evil or the once-saved, always-saved debate, there was a right answer from the Bible that we needed to know and be ready to defend. Looking back, I can’t remember how much of the obsession with the “right” answer came from the church and how much came from my own perfectionistic and logical personality. I’m sure both played a role.

As I grew older, through a variety of life experiences and much soul-searching, I realized some things:

  • I didn’t really have all the answers on matters of Christian faith, or at least that I didn’t like some of the answers I had to some of life’s toughest questions.
  • What various churches taught and emphasized didn’t necessarily match what the Bible taught and emphasized.
  • Different Christians, all well-meaning, could interpret the same Bible and understand the same God in vastly different ways.

These realizations scared me in ways I cannot fully explain.

You can check out the full piece here, but I like to add how he summed it up.

Finally, in ways I can’t fully explain other than to give God the credit, I found a way to return to a faith that I don’t fully understand, a faith for which I don’t have all the answers. When someone asks me a spiritual question, and I don’t have a solid answer, I can finally respond with, “I don’t know”. And be OK with it.

See, the trait I admire most about Andy is something I wish more Christians would adhere to and the one thing I think drove me away from the Evangelical church . . . Andy is sincerely honest and genuine, a true example of grace.

Andy ends his post with a link to Rachel Held Evan’s blog, something I actually referenced a day or two ago.  Evans piece is titled Ten Things I’m Not “Ready to Give an Answer” About.  Evans, like Andy, is honest and genuine about how she feels about her faith even if it clashes with her upbringing and the people around her, and I felt I could totally relate to most of what she was saying.  Heck, I took comfort in it.  I know for sure I have an answer for myself to #5 on her list, but here’s a sampling of her list in case you are interested.

3. I don’t know which Bible stories ought to be treated as historically accurate, scientifically-provable accounts of fact and which stories are meant to be metaphorical. I’m beginning to believe that it might not matter, that these stories can transform my life whether or not they refer to literal days, literal fruit trees, or literal floods.

6. I don’t know how God will ultimately judge between good and evil. In other words, I don’t know who’s going to heaven and who’s going to hell.

8. I don’t know why people are gay, or if being gay is a sin.

9. I don’t know which Church tradition best represents the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I know some of you are thinking there are some clear cut answers to her post and how on God’s green Earth can I not accept those answers.  Truth is, I did accept those answers, but I never had the courage to say out loud that I didn’t really believe in them.  The one time that I did, I was told I truly didn’t have a relationship with Jesus.  Yup, that made me feel like a winner.  I know there are some definite black and white answers when it comes to the Christian faith, but I think there’s a lot of more gray out there than people are willing to admit, and I’m finding gray to be a beautiful, graceful color which isn’t as “lukewarm” as I once thought.

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6 Responses to Feeling Better About the Gray in my Life

  1. Don says:

    I think maybe some things are just supposed to be gray. I mean, Jesus could have come down with a list of bullet points and cleared up all of the questions he knew we would have. But that's now what he did. Instead he told illustrative parables, which sort of pull back the curtain but sometimes raise as many questions as they answer. I suspect that the reason he did this is because the whole point of salvation is that he wants a relationship with us. He wants us to lean more and more on him as time goes by, and not having all the answers causes us to do exactly that because eventually you come to a point where the simple answers to life's questions just don't cut it anymore. And once you reach that place where you can admit that you just don't even know what you know anymore, all you can do is trust that the all-knowing all-loving God will work out the details. And know he'll do it much better and with much more grace than we ever could have.

  2. mzchief says:

    I have never questioned your faith in God. There are some of us who realize, faith's true purpose is truly nothing more than a means to better know God and for individuals to foster a personal relationship with God, thus a personal matter, and justifiably causes people to seek a path that enables THEM to do what THEY need to do to embrace God. Remember, it is in the best interest of religion to sell the belief that their religion is the ONLY WAY but is not always in the best interest of the individual who seeks a rich and fulfilling personal relationship with God. I sincerely applaud you for your "struggle" to do what you need to do to enhance your personal relationship with God.

  3. Mtoots says:

    I'm thinking that gray is the color of faith. Admitting one doesn't know all the answers, but knowing that God DOES is what faith is! I don't HAVE to know……I just have to" trust and obey, for there's no other way..to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey." (to quote a favorite hymn) And, my obedience to HIM is between Jesus and ME………not through anyone else!!

  4. Brokelyn says:

    Good for you, Keith. I'm firmly in the camp of those who believe that reigious texts are mostly works of fiction designed to support the religious goal of teaching and controlling the masses. Nothing wrong with that, in fact it's great. Your willingness to keep an open mind about your chosen religion is refreshing. Yours' is the only blog or other "periodical" I read that regularly references religion. I learn a little every so often.

  5. shawnwilson says:

    Dude, THANKS for posting this!!! I too have been wrestling with my faith but on the other side of the spectrum. I grew up Baptist/AOG and ended up at an Non-dom Bible college. While there I was told to be a good Christian by believing strict rules on faith, politics, and life. Right now I am totally taking myself out of it all. While I still love my faith I am no longer trying to be something I can't be. I am done making invisible enemies of people that are really my family!!! I am done living by rules and am running to a relationship. I just needed to share that.


  6. Steve says:

    This was an excellent article. Thank you so much. I have nothing to add (the other comments have been great as well), but I just wanted to add my encouragement.

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