On Questioning Faith & God Because of University?

“Be careful in the Master Peace and Conflict Studies,” the woman said, most sincerely, “a few of my friends did it and came out questioning their faith.”
“Too late,” I said, “I already question…” And I was amazed how vulnerable it felt to say those words out loud, but paused a moment, because it is true, and then continued with explaining. “Given the work I do, and the horrendous things I hear and see in Christian communities, I’ve been questioning my faith for a good six years. Daily… It’s inevitable…. I’ve often said, ‘If it wasn’t for God I’d be an atheist.'”
I don’t know her well, the woman who spoke those words when we bumped into each other downtown. I even had to think twice about her name when we parted ways, and would have been clueless if her friend hadn’t walked by and called it out before we parted ways.
Truth is, I do question God. Not His existence. Not even His goodness. But God Himself, and how things are what they are with the suffering of little ones on the streets, being trafficked… and in His house… the molestation. No, there’s not a fragment of a doubt in my mind that He exists, and is good… But these questions about His household run deep, so I question. My faith has been taxed heavily, and I have questioned for years. And I hope I continue. Because there are a few simple ‘hard truths’ I cling to for dear life, but with everything I know of life and crime, in church and on the streets, I fear that by the time I stop questioning, I will have come to the wrong conclusion. So I question, and God listens. Sometimes He answers in ways I can cling to, sometimes He just listens. At least for a while.
It is not possible to know what I know, of darkness hidden in religious communities, of hatred (by some) for those who desperately want truth on all levels (not only convincing doctrine)… Of leaders so insecure in their calling that they write off and attempt to silence anyone who speaks into that hidden darkness…. No, these things are not possible for me (and for many others in the trenches) without questioning both God and faith, in some way. I’m sure there’s some easy religious answer to explain everything, and make it all look nice again, but I can’t do that, can’t go there. A few Bible verses, lengthy prayers or one hundred or even a thousand ‘Hail Mary’s’ just doesn’t make the hard reality go away, or even more bearable. Nor does booting out a few demons heal every inner trauma. Those solutions work much like masking tape on a wet surface. It sticks until it doesn’t. And when it no longer sticks, there is a need for deep, compassionate care. (For the sake of everyone who feels a sense of obligation to burn their candle at both ends until they suffer burnout, let me add… ‘Compassion with boundaries’, because Compassion Fatigue, Vicarious Trauma and Burnout are real… and knowing when to step back is critical. Also, it may not be the hard stories that wear you down. Be aware of personal stress triggers, and set boundaries accordingly.)
Anywhere else I can reconcile wickedness, but not among the Jesus people. It violates every part of what He came to be and do. Especially when hidden and then protected under a guise of forgiveness, while the naked victims stand by, beaten with stripes they never deserved, just for admitting to pain. I can even reconcile wickedness happening among Jesus people, because of human struggle and scars of unhealed wounds, but when there is an agenda to hide or mask over without deep acknowledgement of the suffering it has caused, and care given accordingly… Not that.
So, yes, I question. And, yes, I have walked through more than one faith crisis in my six years of ministry. The one thing that has helped me refocus, is speaking truth over others, because there is truth that I cannot ‘unknow’ even if I wanted to, and that truth is the love of Jesus, and when spoken it has power. I fall hard on it’s simplicity. And in moments of hopelessness, I have grasped it with slippery fingers. Still that love remained, and remains still. I have grasped it when grief at what I see ‘among His’ washes over me, defying that grace-filled love, realizing it’s all I have…
Now, having nearly completed my first term, I find it fascinating that rather than causing me to question God, and the things He allows in this messy world, it has affirmed my faith. It has helped tremendously to take a step back from being so close to trauma in religious communities, and take a break from the harshness of it to study. It has been a good thing and a God thing.
That said, I know my journey well enough to know I will continue to question and wrestle as long as I work with victims and offenders of sexual violence. I wish at moments that I had suffered nothing of abuse in religious community… that I had heard none of it… that I was innocent of knowing the cover-ups… All so that I could walk in innocent, intoxicating-ly sweet love relationship with Jesus, oblivious to the messiness of crime and wickedness in church. The tired heart of six years of investing, at times thanked, at times cursed, struggles, but it is a rare and selfish moment that cries for this innocence.
Instead, I will continue to do what God has called me to do, pressing into His heart for answers when I question, wonder or wrestle. Because it is in those moments I realize how imperfect, inadequate and human I am, and how much it is His love that carries me. And that, alone, makes every question a faith-building one.
~ T ~

 © Trudy Metzger

5 thoughts on “On Questioning Faith & God Because of University?

  1. ruraldeliveryroute November 29, 2016 / 11:28 am

    The way I figure God’s big enough for my little questions…I feel ya, been there, heard that! hang tight!…..you’re always welcome on the dark side, otherwise known as the Episcopal Church 🙂

    • Trudy Metzger November 29, 2016 / 12:13 pm

      When is membership Sunday? 😉

  2. simone smucker November 29, 2016 / 12:13 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you. i love your honesty.

  3. Philip Champ November 29, 2016 / 12:54 pm

    I like your writing style. Maybe just because it speaks what’s inside our hearts and is so hard to express. I well remember hearing a conservative Mennonite question God. The first time it was frighteningly wrong to my naïve heart and soul. I listened maybe cause I knew any communication was better than silence, and because I was so confused myself about how such crimes could go on, unthinkable tragedy, silent suffering that grows for years. And the questioning was real sincere and I was glad the bishop was not standing by. I was certain it would have been excommunication-no questions asked deal. Maybe that would have been better because the excommunication eventually came, at least in their mind. And so we go on. I’m glad for the touch of healing that comes from time to time. Sometimes unexplainable, like just out of the blue sky and yes it may stick like tape on a wet surface. But then such joy and peace have been experienced that you want more. And I like to convince myself that there is less to heal. Thanks Trudy.

  4. heatherjo86 December 31, 2016 / 11:21 am

    Why God allows suffering is a big question on the minds of many people. If God is almighty and all powerful how could he just stand by and allowed these terrible tragedies to continue. The bible actually shows is that the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one (1 John 5:19) so God isn’t to blame. Many of the tragedies we see stem from the government and all of these “kingdoms” are controlled by the devil (Matthew 4:8,9). Mankind as a whole has in essence said “God we don’t need you, we can rule ourselves”. Adam and Eve demonstrated this way of thinking when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden striving to “be like God”. They wanted to rule themselves. All throughout the bible we see God’s people trying to rule themselves without God telling them what to do and they also suffered for it. History just keeps repeating itself because now more than ever more and more people feel they don’t need God or that he doesn’t exist. So God is allowing us time to see how much we truly need him. Man made governments have been corrupt since the beginning and would that be clear for us to see if God continually cleaned up the messes that the devil and mankind have created? So God will step in and undue all the wickedness and lawlessness in the world but until then, we must believe that Jehovah God is the only source for true love, peace and security.

Comments are closed.