Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Marriage, Dinner, and a Faith Crisis

Another wedding anniversary is approaching for me, which has caused me to reflect on how my faith crisis has impacted my marriage and how my marriage has impacted my faith crisis.

I officially mark my faith crisis as beginning in January of 2009. However, I had an aborted attempt at a faith crisis back many years ago. I had just begun grad school and was fairly newly married. I tried to have a conversation with my husband about my concern that most all of humanity was destined to hell because of not living in the right time or place to hear about Jesus. The conversation ended with my husband defensive and angry and myself in tears. That conversation over dinner was the beginning and end of my initial faith crisis.

Fast forward to last year. The same old question which provoked my initial crisis began to nag at me relentlessly. It had really never left. I made a decision at that point to have a controlled, private faith crisis. (This sounds absurd, but it's the truth.) I started with the Internet, reading blogs and articles when the family was asleep. Then, I began reading books and leaving them out so my husband could see what I was reading. That actually took some nerve on my part. He saw books on evolution, textual criticism, and Biblical interpretation. Finally, at the end of the year, he asked me about them. I shared some of my struggles with a fair amount of reluctance. I spoke of the evidence I found for evolution and the fact that I no longer hold the Bible to be inerrant. He surprised me by remaining fairly calm and listening a great deal. A couple of months later, we had a good conversation during dinner where he actually admitted he shared some of my concerns and questions about the Bible. This was a pleasant surprise. Although my husband was uncomfortable hearing my thoughts in great depth, he asked for me to keep him informed at a general level as I continued to study and develop my thinking about matters of faith. It was a liberating gift to experience my husband's new found ability to accept me in my struggle. He still feels uncomfortable with many of my beliefs and will not engage with me for long on them. However, there is a new openness and acceptance between us that wasn't there before. We also feel closer as a result of this experience. I have wondered before what would happen to our marriage if I lost my faith entirely. I know there would be much to work out, but it's no longer something which frightens me. When I consider the possibility of a world without God, I somehow actually feel more connected to my husband, knowing I love him without needing to believe there is a God commanding me to do so.

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like you are both to be commended for your committment to each other and working through things so well. An eloquent post.

    "The conversation ended with my husband defensive and angry and myself in tears. That conversation over dinner was the beginning and end of my initial faith crisis."

    We had similar experiences, which I think kept us from communicating along the way, and why when I seriously started bringing issues up she was shocked. I hadn't thought she would be. It has taken us about two years to get to a similar point to where it seems you are.

    "I made a decision at that point to have a controlled, private faith crisis. (This sounds absurd, but it's the truth.) I started with the Internet, reading blogs and articles when the family was asleep. Then, I began reading books and leaving them out ..."

    That does sound absurd, but only because my experience was so similar. :^)

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  2. Thanks for your kind thoughts. It's unfortunate that issues of faith can be so divisive. It's at least good to know we're not alone in this experience. The more comfortable I get talking with others about my faith crisis, the more friends in my "off-line" life I find that have either had or are going through some type of crisis.

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  3. My husband has definitely been put through some major torture because of my faith crisis. He will be the first to admit that it has been the WORST experience of his life. He is a physician, and seeing my battle and trying to help (and be helpless) has been immensely difficult. We have definitely gotten into arguments. Being in doubt also makes marriage difficult, because everytime he makes a mistake, my doubt intensifies. He's going to write a guest post soon. How are you parenting your kids. That has been the toughest for me.

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  4. Like a Child,
    Thanks for commenting here. Parenting is a challenge in the best of times, isn't it? Right now, I pretty much have maintained the status quo with my kids. I see no need to disrupt anything while I'm still trying to figure myself out. I will say that we have historically been a family whose faith has been central to our home. We spend a great deal of time at church and church activities. Before all this began, I made an effort to make our faith something that was lived, discussed, read about, etc. on a continual basis. We read the Bible at night to our kids, had weekly family fun nights where we engaged in object lessons, and generally prayed to and talked about God all the time. We don't attend every service like we use to and I tend not to read the Bible at night or do a family fun night unless asked by my boys. We primarily talk about God when my boys bring it up. I feel some guilt about this because I may get through this crisis and maintain my Chrisianity. Also, I want to continue to address important spiritual/moral issues. I believe that all we have done with our boys has resulted in children who are very kind hearted, compassionate, accepting, and generous to others. I have struggled with how to address spiritual/moral issues with them during this time. What parenting issues have you dealt with?

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  5. My biggest parenting challenge right now is talking about God to my children. My 6 year old is still searching and doesn't really understand the concept of an invisible God - she asks questions - which makes me feel so much pressure to get this crisis resolved, but that just wont happen. I try to be as honest and vulnerable as I can with her and not just gloss over her questions. We aren't really doing a very consistent job of praying or reading the Bible to our kids right now. We try to pray before dinnertime, and that consists of a song sung by my two year old. If I do too much, I start to feel guilty that I'm indoctrinating my kids with something I'm not sure about. My husband will read Bible stories at times, but it makes me sad we dont do it as a family anymore. Hard times.

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