Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On Being Willing to Believe

There are times when the desire for connection with the divine is so strong, it almost becomes a physical object.  This divine is not the same for everyone.  What I want it to be is so different from what I recognized as divine so long ago.

I’ve realized that if I can’t be certain of the spiritual things, at the very least I can discern what I want to be true, and see where that takes me.  I want there to be an eternal consciousness that involves me, both during this life and after.  I want there to be meaning to this life - to the words that are said, the actions that are done, the bonds that are created between like-minded people.  No matter when my life ends in this body, let that not be the end of me.  I want peace, but not just peace, an inner delight in the people and world around me.  I want to know, and to be known.

In my silence at West Hills Friends this past week, the sentence that kept coming back to me was, “If I want to believe, I have to be willing to believe.”  It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but being willing to believe is harder than it sounds.  It takes an active rejection of the need for logic and evidence, and an acceptance that maybe, just maybe, an experience of something divine can occur in spite of its nonsensicality. Maybe the connection I want won’t be found in words or holy books, and it certainly isn’t likely to be found in a burning bush or the physical presence of a god, which would take away the need for faith at all.

I’m embracing the idea that my search and discovery of anything divine can be my own.  It doesn’t have to fit within a denomination, it doesn’t need a label, and it doesn’t need a guide.  It doesn’t have to include the word God, or extend to the Bible or Jesus or anyone else with claims to be holy.   I’ve begun to FEEL the things I’ve been looking for, even if I don’t always know what those things are.  This struggle against faith is no longer a matter of which system has the best answers to the questions, or which proof for the existence of a god is most likely to be correct.  My most recent intuitions are that these things are valuable tools that ultimately help one to realize that they don’t matter.  The adventure is in the journey, not in the conclusion, which is likely to never come.


  1. Can you still call yourself an Atheist? If you believe in something, Not God or otherwise, do you still reject the idea of any deity?

  2. As you say, "The adventure is in the journey, not in the conclusion" certainly rings true in my experience also.

    It's been exciting to watch you embark on this journey, Ryan. Your courage, vulnerability and and humility have been both encouraging and challenging to me. From the outside reading in, it seems like you're feeling like you've been moving in the right direction. (Maybe even feeling like you're uncovering a bit of peace?) Awesome stuff, friend. Love the honesty.

  3. To Dan - my experience at the moment isn't really one that fits within the same kind of language as atheism or rejecting a deity. I certainly have more of a sense of connection with what some might call God, but I'm not labeling it that way. If I have to put into concrete terms, there's not a particular deity that I would point to and confirm that I believe it's there, but that's not to say that there is nothing supernatural occurring. It's hard to articulate religious ideas outside our usual context of evangelicalism, but I suspect it won't be very long before the word atheist feels incorrect, even if intellectually I haven't changed my mind.