My favorite part of Quaker meeting each week is hearing what people have to say about how they’re experiencing their faith. And for multiple meetings in a row, I’ve really wanted to say something, but have felt like I’d be squashing someone’s joy if I said what I wanted to say. I don’t know why, but I feel a strong pressure to be the prodigal son coming home, and when I can’t be that person, I tend to shut myself up, afraid of ruining the positive experience so many people have. I hope I’ll eventually have the courage to speak off the cuff, but for now, this is the best I can do.
There’s a show on TV called Catfish. It’s about people who are in online relationships with people they’ve never met in real life. Most of them have never seen the face of the person they’ve been chatting or talking on the phone with. In the show, the mysterious other person is tracked down, and introduced to their online significant other. Most of the time, the mysterious online person turns out not to be who they claimed to be. Sometimes they’re a different gender than they claimed to be. Sometimes they’re overweight and afraid to be seen. Sometimes they’re just mean people having fun at the expense of others.
In my life, God has been my catfish. The relationship I thought I had turned out not to be real. And like the people on the TV show, even if the relationship wasn’t real, the emotions I felt during that time were real, and have to be dealt with. It’s an awkward situation. I’m simultaneously mourning the loss of, and being disappointed in, someone who probably doesn’t exist.
The weight of the loss of God is with me all the time. It’s like being a widow in a restaurant, quietly watching the couple next to you celebrate an anniversary. All I want is closure. To either discover that I’m wrong about God, or to accept the loss and let it go. Of all the things I’m afraid of, what I’m afraid of most is that neither will happen, and I'll spend the rest of my life waiting for someone who never shows up.
In the week since I first wrote this, I've tried to distance myself from theology, and have found it rewarding. The searching had its purpose, but I suspect that time is nearing an end. At some point life has to be lived and not just analyzed. The weight of the search has so overwhelmed me with unhappiness that it's made it difficult to tackle any other goals I have. Food, for example. I would love to be able to eat better and exercise. But when there's such a heavy negative pull related to God issues, how do I turn away food, which is always a positive experience? I need to take back some control of my mental health, and let go of the need for answers. God, if she exists, ought to be plenty capable of making herself known. I don't know why I've felt obligated to do the looking. I no longer do.