Monday, February 1, 2010

God: Part I

The “faith” question continues to evade me. Though I can’t say I’ve whole heartedly been chasing it either. I can’t—nor do I want to—avoid the question, but really: What do I believe? Some people seem to fit nicely into a little box called “religion.” In a way, I see some appeal. You get this nifty label that says, “Christian” or “Catholic” and then people just know what you believe without question. No, that’s not what I want. There are always exceptions. I want to think. I want to consider. I want to make decisions that make sense. I want to believe in what I believe. Life was simpler when I was a kid.

I’m a born and raised Seventh-day Adventist Christian. I rocked cradle roll, primary, juniors, and youth Sabbath school. I awaited that wonderful day when I could join Pathfinders. At ten years-old, I held my breath beneath the waves of baptism on July 25, 1997. Attending Adventist schools, eating Loma Linda veggie foods, and singing hymns make the perfect Adventist right? Graduation day from an Adventist academy pushed me toward my next stop, an Adventist college.

I was not brainwashed. I’m not directly regretful about my Christian upbringing. This is just the way it was. After a year at Union, I decided to adventure towards another very Adventist thing to do: serve for a year as a student missionary. Packing a years-worth of items into two, fifty-pound bags, I boarded that plane bound for Phnom Penh, Cambodia when I was 19 years-old.

There are three phases of culture shock: the honeymoon stage, resistance, and finally, acceptance. So at first, I thought, This is charming. Oh look at the people, the market, the traffic! Some travelers enjoy travel immensely because they only stay a week. That’s why it’s called a vacation. Some long-term travelers hang out in the honeymoon stage for weeks and even months. My honeymoon stage lasted about 24 hours. My reality became real very quickly. I got off the plane, spent one night in Cambodia, and realized, This is not what I thought it was going to be. This took me into the next phase of culture shock: resistance; which is pretty much where I spent the next 8 of my 10 months in Cambodia.

In my checked baggage I brought clothes, teaching supplies, and an eating disorder. This brought pain, anger, hurt, frustration, isolation, loneliness, and a host of other feelings. Amidst bulimia, a rough living situation, sexual assault, being hit by a car, and a few other memorable experiences, I decided there could not be a god. This hurt too much for there to be a god who was watching over me. Everything that used to seem so sure to me—Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so—no longer made sense, not in Cambodia.

The last phase of culture shock is acceptance. Okay, it’s not perfect, but this is interesting. My situation improved steadily the last two months as I started preparing to go home. I tried to be an atheist. That lasted about a week. I think I’ve been agnostic ever since.

Agnostic- a person who claims that they cannot have true knowledge about the existence of God (but does not deny that God might exist)

That feels about right. I think more people are agnostic than they’d like to admit, because really, not one person on planet earth can prove God. If they could, without a doubt, prove the existence of God, everyone would believe in Him. It’d be an established fact like gravity. We all know gravity exists. We don’t argue about facts. The Christians I love and respect the most are those who are willing to say, “I don’t pretend to have all the answers,” because they’ve accepted that they just can’t.


Briana said...

wow. i can't even begin to tell you how much i relate to this.

Briana said...

wow. i can't even begin to tell you how much i relate to this.