Day 21: I Picked Jesus Part 3
This emotional deconstruction of faith happened, by some providence, to coincide with my leaving home for college. In all my zealous fervor I had applied to a Christian school for my higher education, but by the time freshman year rolled around, dusk had set upon my soul's dark night. The school I had chosen to attend was a Quaker-founded evangelical institution called George Fox University, and there, particularly within the religion program, I was challenged to think in new ways, to reevaluate and critique the stale answers and faulty logic which had so long served as foundation for my notions of God, faith and spirituality. Indeed, by some divine irony, the school I attended out of a misguided sense of fundamentalist obligation turned out to be the driving force behind my own spiritual Renaissance. In no uncertain terms, my time at Fox saved my faith. It taught me how to love God not just with my will but with an integrated heart and mind too.
Granted, I did from time to time throughout the journey fear my Jenga tower of faith would come tumbling down after the wrong block got pulled out from the bottom. And the scariest part was I couldn't be sure which block would do it. Would it be questioning certain ways I had been taught to read the Bible? Would changing my stance on gay marriage irreparably damage my faith? Would drawing bits of wisdom from other faith traditions send me over the edge of the dreaded proverbial slippery slope? The anxiety was almost unbearable, but I could not in good faith take a single step back. I had to see it all out. The only faith I had left was in a God who, if true, would see me through to the other side.
After months and years of this struggling, I started to notice in the cloud of fog surrounding my storming soul a familiar face coming clear, and not far off either. And I came to realize it was the same Jesus who had appeared to me all those years ago; He had not left me after all, no matter how much I’d flailed and screamed and raged at Him. In fact, and here's the absurd part, from within this chasm of doubt I could see Him, feel Him and experience Him more clearly than ever. He was less American now, sure. Less white, less like me, less like the folks at church and more like a Palestinian peasant from the ancient near-East. But he was Jesus. He was the one who'd once called me by name. I had not lost Him. And He had never for a moment lost sight of me.