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Monk-in-Training

Adam,
That is one of the most profound, and spiritually mature letters I have ever read. I have no answers, just a willingness to ask the questions with ya.

Nicole

Adam, Thanks for asking the questions many of us are asking in such an honest, vulnerable, and raw way. I know I feel like that quite often, but instead I hide my anger and fear. (Like God doesn't know it's there anyway.) I pray that he does answer you in His time in a way that moves you not toward certainty but toward comfort with the uncertainty. I really like this quote that one of my profs has hanging on his wall, "Jesus came into the world not to relieve suffering, but to fill it with His prescence, in His time."

It's that last phrase that is the kicker.

Leighton

One of the hardest moments of my life was when I learned that "Seek and ye shall find" isn't always true (more precisely, it's true when you want it to be true [whether or not it actually is] but not when you need it to be true). Nor is the adage that no one will be tested beyond what they can bear. Nor is the promise that anything we ask in Jesus' name will be given.

When I came to a similar point in my life, I decided that if God wants my attention, he will have to come get it himself and not send my friends, or family, or strangers or acquaintances, or pleasant coincidences, or third-hand messages in books. I told him as much, and have never heard anything further. I've never regretted that choice, and even though some of the social consequences have been hard to deal with, it was the only way to break the deeply destructive power structures that were implanted in my psyche by my church upbringing that, together with my blaming myself for God's silence, were on the verge of driving me to suicide.

Walking away isn't a path for everyone, but it is a viable option should you ever need to explore it. People don't stop growing outside of faith; if you put your mind to it, you just keep on going. At some deep level I tend to think there's not any difference between having faith and not having faith (this is probably my inner Buddhist speaking).

Anyway, most importantly, wherever you wind up, you are not alone--even though I have a suspicion that if your experiences are anything like mine, you're already engaged in the trial by fire where out of necessity you fight the worst of your battles alone in the shadows; so what I mean is, there are people waiting on the other side, however long it takes you and whoever you are when you come through. Every conscious being is in the same boat, so it's really the least we can do for each other.

Unregulated female

Yep - been there, am there, will be there again. Why isn't faith so much easier to live with and through? Yet, when I hear others defining Faith as simply follow steps 1-6 and you are there, I want to run... Baseline reality - is God out there? Is he/she there for me? I know personally, as I really inspect my own faith, I can fear or worry that my beliefs may have been incorrect. Then I have coffee with a friend, or talk to a mentor, or enjoy life outside of my "bubble," and somehow my inner being is refreshed. Someone yesterday said we find God when we talk with one another. In the midst of this ethereal "blog world," I am finding God. Can't explain even if I wanted to. Reading other's journeys, stories, and thoughts, I am somehow re-directed and encouraged.

You are not alone on this journey - I'm available anytime.- - Wanna meet for a cuppa??

greg

Adam,

The only reason I believe anymore is because I desperately want to believe in the world Jesus envisioned. Amanda's presence and your response is a small taste of that other world. Maybe Leighton is right; maybe we can build it without God. I don't know. He doesn't seem too keen to help, but then, neither do we. Susan and I love you. I know you don't want to hear this, but we're praying for you too, and not for your salvation...

meg

Well now I've lost all hope of writing the world's best sermon - it's just been written.
I don't have the answers but I'll stand beside you and ask the questions. I, too, often feel "all prayed up, all believed out, and so very, very tired of walking in the darkness and being afraid." I am with you on the journey and I'm praying for you, not for your salvation OR that you'll wake up tomorrow morning all happy-clappy about Jesus again, but simply that God will be near to you in some way.

zalm

If the New International Pub Translation is still taking submissions, this belongs smack dab in the middle of Psalms. In fact, I might print this out and tuck it away in my more conventional translation.

Thanks for starkly and clearly asking the questions that I so often pretend like I don't ask. You may not have any concept of who you touch by being so open, but I for one have learned quite a lot from your journey. That may mean nothing to you in a time of pain, but I'm thankful all the same.

I too will keep you in my prayers, whatever that might mean or do. In particular, I pray you can find a community that will let you be as honest as you are here and will love and support you through this.

And if that's not to be found, we'll be around to offer what we can.

Angevoix

Wow.

Roopster

Adam,
Powerful prayer! Let me know if you get an answer :)
Paul

medeiros

I have been at this place in my life a couple times. When i really think about it i feel like it all comes down to me wanting something from God and not getting it and because i dont get it i decide He doesnt exist or He doesnt love me if He does. Its times like this were the oposite force takes control. Freewill is a big thing... we have to be able to walk away without God begging us to come to Him. I like that about God...i like that He doesnt break when i beg, i like that He cant be manipulated, God has been the only force in my life i can not toy with or pervert. If He wants me to learn something HE will make sure i know it before i can move on...some people (like myself at times) get to a spot in their relationship with God were they know they are being called to a deeper obidience,love, understanding, etc. and give up right in the middle because they didnt trust Him enough to begin with..so..well..they have to start all over again. I like that God is not satisfied with a mediocore belief...i like that we cant skip lessons with Him...if you choose to give up you will have all the space to do it...if your looking to manipulate GOd...by..saying if you dont do this or i will leave...you will just end up leaving...looking back to see if He is watching you...i dont think God will say..."NO. Dont go..please wait"...i think God has done enough for us to believe HE loves us...HE will let you go...its the devil that begs you to come, that promises you comfort, that says it will be easy, thats is always trying to show off in front of you..Jesus is humble in every sence...so much that He chooses to whisper His will in a corner somwhere..instead of screaming it in your ear..praise God for that...in my life God has only answerd my prayers when i really know what im asking...only then am i able to understand His answers..or silence...you will not be able to make God into what you want Him to be...He does not and will not change..that is somthing you can accept or not...you will never be able to fully ignore GOd once you have let Him in even a little bit...hola if you ever want to talk...
medeiros
mrj@theprocussions.com

oh in my repsonse to this..
"When I came to a similar point in my life, I decided that if God wants my attention, he will have to come get it himself and not send my friends, or family, or strangers or acquaintances, or pleasant coincidences, or third-hand messages in books. I told him as much, and have never heard anything further. I've never regretted that choice, and even though some of the social consequences have been hard to deal with, it was the only way to break the deeply destructive power structures that were implanted in my psyche by my church upbringing that, together with my blaming myself for God's silence, were on the verge of driving me to suicide."

that sounds extreamly arrogant, trying to manipulate GOd to love you or come for you..but making it impossible so that you can prove to yourself He doesnt care...a trick of the devil...saying you want to hear from God without books, without His word, without friends, witout family, without coincendence etc. etc....it like what are you asking...a voice with no voice...God has always spoken like that...man trying to get God to do human tricks is a sad thing...this whole site seems like a cry to GOd..or a way to get back at Him..just cry out to HIm and let Him answer the way He wants to answer...dang..brother...Jesus has served us all...a true true servant...now He is a King..let Him be a king....i think AMericans have more trouble with faith and servanthood then any other race of people..our society does not understand that idea..of a Ruler..that we may have to bow down too..we bow down to noone..and even want to control God..because deep down we think we are gods...boo on the U.S...we make bad servantd someimtes..peace


cheek

It does not strike me as particularly arrogant to expect a being worthy of being called 'God' to act in a way that makes it possible for contemplative, rational people to believe in him. If God created me, then he created me with a critical mind that demands belief in the best answer. Tell me why then, if after scrutinizing the various evidence for and against, I decide that I do not believe. It doesn't seem far-fetched to expect a loving, all-powerful God to make his presence and his love clear to hurting, questioning people. I want to believe in the God I see represented by Jesus; I hope and even sometimes pray that the story is true. But I would certainly consider it arrogance on my part to tell someone who does not find enough evidence for that same hope that he is wrong. In the world we live in, with the rather few resources we have for verifying theories and beliefs, the most arrogant thing someone can do is demand that he is right and that others should simply accept his beliefs because they are so obviously true. I know what you are trying to do is help, but I assure you that what you have said here is likely only to drive struggling people further from the faith that you espouse. If you have a genuine argument to make in favor of belief, I'm sure everyone here would be interested, but just stating that you believe and that we should to is unlikely to have a powerful effect.

Leighton

Med,

At the risk of stating the obvious, let me point out a few things. (1) Not everyone who arrives in this situation is there for the same reasons. (2) Not everyone who is in the situation shares identical motives. (3) If you believe in God, it's feasible that he would behave toward different people in different ways. (4) You don't know Adam, and you don't know me (I'm the one whose "arrogant" comment you decided to grace with a one-sentence paragraph response).

As a corollary of (3) and (4), what works for you may not work for other people in general, and in particular it did not work for me. I did what I did in the context of having "cried out to Him and let Him answer in the way He wants to answer" for years and gotten silence mixed with dozens of false positives. (Surely you don't believe it's impossible to misinterpret a happening or a circumstance as a communication from God.)

Central to my post, and what I thought was explicit, is that in this situation, we and God (and the devil if you happen to believe in it) are not the only players in the game. There are also other people--almost always a "church of reference"--who, collectively, implant in our psyches a normative vision of what it means to be related to or interact with God. It is possible for this vision, a social construct, to be mistaken in some or in all particulars. This is what I was trying to filter out. I knew that the idea of God that I had grown up with (a bloodthirsty tyrannous uncaring demon) was deeply flawed, and I was trying to cultivate my relationship with God straight from the source rather than draining it through more noisy human filters. It didn't work, and though I've left out most of the story, that's all I'm going to say about it to someone I don't know. You weren't there.

Regarding the charge of manipulation: yes, it was manipulative. The small, quiet, still-healthy part of a suicidal person pulls out all the stops to get the help it so desperately needs. In real life, the problem with this approach (and I say this having been on both sides at various points) is that it demands a huge amount of time and energy from people, sometimes more than they have to give. Presumably God is not limited in either aspect. What's the big deal? Sure, it's not healthy for the relationship, but neither is lack of clear communication. When I want to know what my roommate thinks, I ask him. When I want to know what my mother thinks, I call her. When I want to know what my professors think, I ask them during office hours. I don't have to sit down and undergo psychological contortions to put myself in a certain state of mind and weigh every little inkling or inclination to see if it might possibly be a communication if I squint and hold my breath. For all this talk on free will, real communications (as we commonly understand and use the term) do impose themselves on our consciousness and are there whether we want to hear them or not. What takes effort is ignoring them, not finding them in the first place.

Let me conclude by saying that I agree with most of your assessment of American culture. We're a society of individualists who've lost a lot of our innate ability to connect with others, and that's a problem we all need to address somehow. I just wish there were an easy way to do it.

Best,
Leighton

Laura

To Quote the great philosopher Pedro the Lion:

I could hear the church bells ringing. They pealed aloud your praise. The members' faces were smiling with their hands outstretched to shake. It's true they did not move me. My heart was hard and tired. Their perfect fire annoyed me. I could not find you anywhere. Could someone please tell me the story of sinners ransomed from the fall? I still have never seen you and some days, I don't love you at all. The devoted were wearing bracelets to remind them why they came, some concrete motivation when the abstract could not do the same. But if all that's left is duty, I'm falling on my sword. At least then I would not serve an unseen distant Lord. Could someone please tell me the story of sinners ransomed from the fall? I still have never seen you and somedays I don't love you at all. If this is only a test I hope that I'm passing because I'm losing steam. I still want to trust you. Peace Be Still.

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