My faith has been on the rocks for a while. I've honestly been afraid that to unravel the details. I’ve been afraid to cause confusion and break the trust of friends who have known my heart for years. I’ve been afraid to speak up and lean in. I’ve been afraid to speak the truth aloud: that my faith, as I once knew it, is broken. I’ve lost my faith. This statement is not a prayer request, nor a cry for help. It is not a scare tactic, or propaganda, or poetry. It is simply the truth of where I am right now, wrestling with the beauty of cosmic love divine.
In the course of fifteen years, I have gone from the anxious little girl writing poems to Jesus in her bedroom to the cigar-smoking woman who now sits with a clear heart and a strong set of lungs. It feels absurd to be sharing something as taboo as losing my faith when just a year ago I sang from cozy living rooms about my unending love for God. Faith, for me, tumbled out of my palms onto the street. It rolled like a lost coin into the drain. It wasn’t until I looked up from the shiny unreachable item resting at the bottom, that I realized that my faith had been whittled down into a tiny copper object that I worshipped. When I was able to let go of ever holding it again, I grieved. I grieved the dogma that rolled away from me because I had somehow made its shallow ideals so worthy of worship. I grieved because it was a dogma that caused me to lose touch with the one of whom my faith was about: YHWH, my Papa-God, the very breath.
I officially knew that I had lost my faith when I received an early morning phone call from a former mentor. She breathlessly spoke my name as she lay in the bed of another mental hospital, this time in Australia, after a schizomanic episode. She asked me the same question she’d asked the last time we’d spoken, “Hey, are you still following Jesus?” This time, I didn’t know what to say to her. My last answer left her in such a state of grief that she disconnected herself from our friendship for three years. And back then, I was only questioning my faith. I hadn’t lost it, yet.
Instead of sharing the complex truth, I looked at her through the Facetime screen and lied to her. I said, “Yes, of course I’m still following Jesus.” I did not explain that the Jesus who I followed seven years prior was not the same Jesus I understand today. The Jesus I know today wouldn’t fit neatly inside of the Americanized ideal I had spent my whole life catering to. This ideal left me fearful, insecure, and afraid of the people that he allowed to be my “community”. They were often the same community who disconcertedly gave my blackness back to me and asked me to change. They were often the same community who turned their noses up at the homeless and homosexuals. They wore holiness like a carefully crafted shield of honor rather than as the awkward, open, and beautiful process I began to understand through vulnerable moments.
She didn’t know that I couldn’t talk or think about Jesus in the same ways I had before. White, westernized, evangelical Jesus was dead to me. Now, Jesus looked more like a brazen brown activist whose heart lay open on his sleeve as an offering of love to his friends. He didn’t condemn divorcees, mental health patients, nor demonize people who were sick with the common cold. Jesus seemed to no longer needed the parts of me that I’d spent years constructing: the bible scholar, worship leader, mentor, and intercessory prayer warrior. And yet, because she asked, I prayed for her. I prayed for her peace in the hospital. I prayed for the peace of her thoughts. I prayed for her to become hungover by the same version of love that I had been deconstructing for the sake of my freedom and understanding.
To say that I’ve lost my faith isn’t to say that I’ve become an atheist. It isn’t to say that I've unhinged myself from a valid pursuit of love, truth, and an honest gospel. To be clear, I somehow still believe in God and in the power of the life of Jesus. It’s just that now, I feel as if my former worldview has been shattered and reconstructed into something new. Where God used to be a scripturally-sound reflection of my ideal utopia, my idea of God has now become complex, mysterious, and mess-filled, yet beautiful. The Spirit of God has become to me a multi-layered connective tissue through which I live and breathe and find my being. God has become new color, new language, new texture. God has become the angry faces on the bus line, the healed knife wound in my Daddy’s tummy, the unbroken gaze of naked lovers, the vaginal womb split open for the sake of new life, and the unseen and darkened eyes of my queer friends.
God became the peace I found after the sob I released when I signed my divorce papers eight days after my 24th birthday. God became the connections I found in the process of my healing. He became the relentless hope that now taints my lips and makes me stand out in ways that ache sometimes. To say that I’ve lost my faith isn’t to say that I no longer believe in God, but rather, that I can no longer fit God inside of the tiny dogmatic object that has, thankfully, slipped down the drain.
So, yes, I lost my faith. I lost dogma to a dark, wet drain. But, as I looked up, I found that God had always been in every place and in everything. He was never confined to the parameters of my dogmatic faith. He was very literally still YHWH, the very breath—constant, present, safe.