Losing faith?

Today I went to a funeral.  I don’t go to many funerals anymore.  I only go when it matters.  As a youth minister, I went to quite a few funerals.  I went to support folks.  I didn’t always know everyone, but I went for the kids, families, and church members who needed support.  I used to consider it part of the ministry.  I used to consider lots of things part of my ministry.

So today, I went as a friend and his family said goodbye to his wife. I went because he is a friend. I went because my heart is breaking for him and I want to support him. The funeral was Roman Catholic.  I am Roman Catholic and have been all my life.  Cradle Catholic turned minister.  I “retired” from ministry nearly ten years ago during a very difficult time. I continued to work in parochial schools though.  I continued to practice my faith.  I worshiped, prayed, did outreach and service…well, I tried to live my faith, walk the walk…as we say.

Then my husband got sick.  Then my husband died.  No prayers from this earth were answered in the way I had hoped. I had worked my butt off for God, but when it came down to it, it felt like I didn’t work hard enough because my prayers for healing went unanswered.  He died. I became a widow, a sole parent, but even then, I would still call myself a woman of faith.

So as I sat today in a ritual that I know well, I felt nothing.  I didn’t feel sad, I didn’t feel sacred, I didn’t feel happy, relieved, or comforted.  The ritual, the prayers, the place, the feeling of community used to mean so much to me.  Now, there is emptiness.  There is a void where faith used to reside in my being.

I still believe in God.  I still believe that good will prevail over evil.  I still believe that God had so much love that God created this beautiful world and created us to love.  I believe in community.  I believe in prayer, but I just don’t feel like I belong anywhere anymore.  Something about widowhood has left me feeling on the outskirts.  I have tried changing communities, I have tried going back to the old community, but nothing seems to comfort or revive me anymore.  Am I losing my faith?  Is it just evolving?

What I do know is that I miss it.  Somehow though, I think that the hollowness comes from knowing such deep pain.  Somehow, the depth at church is missing now.  Maybe it’s because I have had to reach into the depths of my being just to survive.  Maybe it’s because I have had to cry out to God just to make it through the day.  Maybe it’s because I feel angry and that God did abandon me?

Abandoned, on the outskirts…widows and children out to the gates…

I just don’t understand shallow anymore…

I just don’t understand hate or hypocrisy…

I just don’t understand people talking the talk but not walking the walk…

Church should be a respite for the suffering, but I just don’t see that anymore.

My fear is that I have turned off so much just to survive that maybe feeling in depth isn’t there anymore for me.  If I feel the depth of joy, then at some point, pain will enter again.  If I build up my walls strong enough and keep my feelings buried, maybe I can survive…

I don’t know.

I don’t know how or what belonging to faith, belonging to God, really belonging with anyone is anymore.  I only truly know survival. If I keep God, people, and love at arms length and don’t let any of them in…well, then I won’t be hurt again…it sounds safe.

An open heart sounds painful today.  Maybe tomorrow~

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7 thoughts on “Losing faith?

  1. mml says:

    I feel so much of what you described but you say it so much better than I can (I was widowed last year). ((hugs))

  2. megan says:

    Word.

    I think church, like lots of psychotherapy, serves very well for average life. Not that “average life” doesn’t have difficulties, just that church and therapy are suited to average difficulty. When something deeper and different comes in, those things are not relevant or useful. I say that as both a former therapist and a former have-deep-faith person. Been thinking a lot about jesus in the garden (in fact, matt and I had been discussing it just a couple of days Before) – I think so much of what we are told is that if we only had faith and relied on god, we wouldn’t be in so much pain, as though we have failed and left god. Jesus in the garden was in pain, knowing what he was asked to do, what was to come. He asked to have the cup taken away. He told the disciples after – be glad you do not have to drink as I drink. Was he “apart from god” in his pain? Did he fail to have faith?

    Duh. Religion and therapy tend to slap a happy on everything. Jesus, and so many other teachers in other traditions, did not slap happy on anything. They were in pain, and they felt it.

    (and so ends my long comment sermon for this sunday morning. xo)

    • cmt says:

      so true. I do still identify with the “humanness” and the real pain of scripture…and I do think you’re on to something with the “average life”. So then…our challenge…how to find, evolve, whatever it is or will be into a place where the hole left by our lack of “averageness” : ) brings us in our faith lives??? My other concern is how my faith struggle vibrates out of me onto my boys. My big boy had some foundations, but my little one…don’t know what will become of the hedonist!
      I like your Sunday morn sermon…as you may have gathered…I won’t be at services today~

  3. Candy says:

    I very much understand what you are saying here. Those around us who have not experienced such deep loss seem to talk about such trivial things. We become “not of this world” anymore because half of us is gone and in heaven.

    I think we tend to shut down emotionally just to survive and that’s where you are.

  4. Amy says:

    I believe that God is present when we are empty, but walls of protection keep us from opening the eyes of our heart to hear and be aware.
    I understand and use those walls….being afraid to feel, to let anyone or anything in. I hate and am scared by the feelings of emptiness and darkness, though they are less now, things still trigger- two ambulances passing, funerals and a song or nothing.
    Being present for others is letting the God light within shine for others, so hope, healing-maybe forgiveness.
    Some days…. like you said… one foot in front of another and be graced with another day another try.
    Church and rituals are human creations to bring us closer to God and not the cure or end for our suffering.
    I was forced out of most of the mass last night, as incense crazy priests and alter servers were thinking- reverence??? and not that it is health hazard to some of us!!! Now to start forgiving the human-ness of our church again—- AHHHH! I go round and round with this issue. (Sorry for the sidetrack.)

    I do not understand but I do keep the hope and faith and belief in God, though sometimes the church is not compassionate, loving…. or christlike. It is a bureaucracy.

    May the peace and love of our lord be with you and your guys…love and lots of hugs today. amy

  5. cmt says:

    Amy-I miss you! I wish we were still in the same state! I need spiritual guidance and you were always a compliment to my journey with your insights and by challenging me to think outside the box…maybe we could skype??? C

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