My husband and I continue on our respective and divergent paths as we seek to understand God and our relationship to Him. My husband's path is leading him through turmoil, despair, and feelings of rejection, while I journey on in relative calm, like a curious child, stopping at whatever point of interest I find. He doesn't doubt the validity of Christianity as I do, he questions whether he is beloved or rejected by God. He has openly expressed his pain and his questions to numerous others, especially those in leadership at our church. He's met over lunch with ministers, elders, and friends. It's no secret that he's struggling with his faith. I, on the other hand, began my questioning in private, reading books and blogs and speaking to no one. When I did share my questions with others, it was tentatively and with only a few trusted friends. Never did I approach the leadership of my church. I didn't want attention drawn to myself nor did I want to open myself up to judgment or criticism.
My husband, on the other hand, has never hesitated to bare his soul. In his "living out loud" style, he has felt the need for his public life to honestly reflect his struggles, so he believed it necessary to step down from teaching on occasion in Bible class and to step down from his role in leadership in the education program at church where he was helping to develop curriculum. He recently attended an elder's meeting and informed them of his intentions and the reasoning behind it. Thankfully, they responded in a positive way, mainly with hugs and prayer. This put a little attention on me in that a few people have asked him how I am doing. Though he hasn't shared details, he has let them know I am asking my own questions. No one has uttered words of condemnation or anxiously sought to bring us around to their way of thinking. I've greatly appreciated the responses. However, my husband has found some of the leaders reluctant to follow up or pursue his concerns in depth, which has caused some resentment for him.
I've been surprised at how comfortable I've been with additional people becoming aware of our current state of being. It makes me wonder whether I'm underestimating my family's ability to handle a greater awareness of my evolving beliefs. Over Easter, my husband's mom could tell that he was down in spirit about something and asked us about his mood repeatedly until he told her in a very general way about where he is spiritually. She was supportive and concerned and later left a voicemail for me expressing her care for us. However, I let my guardedness and discomfort over addressing it with her keep me from calling back to talk directly with her. I wimped out.
My husband has found a minister at another congregation who seems comfortable walking along this path with him and they are planning to study weekly together. My husband has enjoyed visiting this church recently. When he visits there, he has none of the accompanying resentment he has felt at our current church. In fact, he's resumed attending on Wednesday nights with the boys now that he's found this new congregation. Mercifully, he hasn't insisted that I join along.
I'm happy for my husband to find a place he enjoys instead of dreads. However, I am reluctant to invest energy into meeting a new set of people and connecting to a new church with a new set of ministries when I am questioning the fundamental basis for it all. I don't really want to change congregations, and my husband hasn't asked to do so. I love many aspects of our congregation. If I did make a switch, I'd rather it be after my thoughts settled and I actually had a better sense of my beliefs. It would also be awkward to enter a new church with this new role of "doubter." We are accustomed to being a couple who is counted on to be involved and committed to the mission and ministries of the church. We would not be in a very enviable role as Mrs. Doubter and Mr. Faith Crisis! Sadly, I must admit that my ego rebels a bit over occupying this lowly state. I don't want to be viewed as any one's project or fall in the "to be saved or rescued" category. I don't particularly feel a need to be rescued or saved. However, I do like the idea of having no expectations on me for being or believing in a particular way!
My husband and I each have our unique spiritual path that we choose individually, and yet, our way clearly shape the path of the other, making it even more difficult to predict what lies ahead.
And that's how are paths are meandering about these days.