Wednesday, December 2, 2009

re-building broken faith

(hat tip to Peterson)

When I was young, in college, I was totally involved in the Jesus Movement. I was so happy to find other friends who believed TOTALLY in Jesus like I did. I got involved through those friends with a group known either as the Glory Barn or Faith Assembly (of near North Webster, Indiana). (Both titles are sometimes interchanged, but are actually separate groups with the same people in each one. I know that is confusing, but it verifies that I know what I'm talking about.)

What did I believe? Specifically, I want to share what I understood about communication between myself and God.

To start, I believed that God would speak to me, personally. Sometimes it occurred through the Bible. While reading ancient texts, I received personal messages that I accepted for my daily "walk." I also believed that God could speak to me through other people, as they "heard in their spirit" what God was leading - through personal "prophecy," or intuitive leanings. And most personally, I believed that if I prayed, God would lead me. I always knew that God would speak, if I listened, and answer my prayers. And once, I even knew that God told me, "You belong together," and I heard this in a real, audible voice.

Who was God speaking about? Well, I was praying about the love that had grown between me and a very special young man. I didn't want to keep building up my hopes for a future with him, if, in fact, it wasn't God's will that we should marry. And in my simple faith, I heard that voice. I always told others, because it was a great story, that I looked up through the leaves of a tree outside my window, and as the moonlight streamed in, all around me, I heard it. And I knew it was not the voice of either a man or a woman, but a strong, yet gentle, clear, voice from heaven. I knew I had a message of direction.

That was in July of 1974, and Ray and I were married in March of 1975.

For nearly 30 years I never doubted either the love or the direction that our lives had taken. And then Ray told me that he was gay. I've shared so much of that story, but I have not been able to share how much that affected my faith.

How do you deal with it when you realize that a cornerstone of your faith is shattered? I've said before that no word can describe how that felt. Not only was I doubting the love I'd always felt, but my very faith didn't even make sense. I'd heard God speak! I'd been taught that God never changes! I've been faithful to God, and I'd been taught that if you live for God, God honors that!

I went in mental circles trying to reason it out. For months I couldn't concentrate, and I even had trouble praying. Nothing added up any more to make a whole anything. And now, we were no longer going to be together! Didn't I always know that God had led me, led us? Not only was I having to face that it was better for Ray to leave, but the center of how I'd known God to lead me, was now broken. How could I possibly, ever, pray or believe? How could I possibly, ever, love?


Was it possible?

To Believe?

It was in my mind that I should run away. I tried to keep steady in day-to-day life. I had a lot of responsibilities, and I kept putting one thing ahead of me at a time. I was constantly re-organizing my self-concept, my beliefs, my view of how the world worked, and how God was or was not there for me in this troubled time. It took time - and I had help by things other people had written, said, and a very few, a small handful of friends.

And gradually I learned that I still had Ray. He had not changed, but he was finally open and honest with who he was and how God made him to be. In all, our love has not changed, and I thank Ray for that. Even though we divorced, I'd never have made it this far if it was not for him.

And I also couldn't get away from my faith in God. Despite a broken heart, a lost marriage, and the changes in EVERYTHING about my life, I still knew that for some reason, God really had spoken to me all those years ago, when I heard: You belong together. No, it's not the same, and it surely isn't what I expected when I first heard those words, but there's a purpose in what I do now. My faith is changed, and how I understand God's direction. I've been through the worst, and, thankfully, I still believe. There's been no damage just because I have questioned God. God is still leading and I'm re-building my faith.

When I watched this video that I found on Peterson Toscano's blog, I knew I wanted to share it. I've been where this composer wrote from, and from where the character sings...


The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama) said...

What a beautiful post! I too have had to go through much faith rebuilding as a result of having grown up very conservative and then trying to "de-gay" my lesbian side (I'm bi). It's beautiful to me that God continues to be faithful--to you and to me--even when our faiths crumble. And it's beautiful to me that you've rediscovered a way to love and know God that is more liberated and liberating despite all this pain. Thanks for sharing your story.

BigMama said...

Carol, I can't explain to you how much this post means to me today. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing this. Thank you for your faith. May God continue to bless you.

好煩唷 said...
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Jendi said...

Thanks for the gorgeous song - it expresses my faith struggles so perfectly. What opera is it from?

Carol said...,8599,1925955,00.html

Here is the link to a review of the musical, "Kristina."

Carol said...,8599,1925955,00.html

Here is the link to a review of the musical, "Kristina."

Anonymous said...

I'm still struggling to re-build my faith after learning my husband is gay. I recently joined a new church with a congregation that's very gay-affirming. It's not helping that he's fighting the divorce, refuses to take responsibility for his promiscuous behavior and is calling me an extortionist because I was awarded alimony. He honestly thinks he's being made to pay blackmail money to keep me from telling people he's gay.

He's a sick, sick man psychologically. He can't help he's gay and I understand that fully. But he did have a choice about how he behaved once he was unable to fight the gay urges anymore. He was raised in the church and knows right from wrong. So what part of having gay affairs for 5 years does he think is right? And what part of having to support me after 36 years of marriage does he think is wrong?

Your blog is such a help to me as I go through this. He's just told our children that he's gay but obviously left off the promiscuity part in an effort to portray himself as a sympathetic character. The truth will come out eventually and I think the kids will be very angry when they find out all he's done.

God bless and merry Christmas.

Carol said...

Dear Anonymous - I hear you, and I'm so glad you posted. Of the many straight wives who are understanding of the gay aspect, there are still so many who have been wronged within their marriages. I'm so glad that you are trying to be part of an affirming community, and yes, you are right, the truth will be known.

I don't know how long you've known about your husband, but it sounds like it is still pretty fresh. That wound WILL heal, but I know the scars still remain. I'm hoping you will have a good Christmas-time, and please consider me a friend.


Penny Maxwell said...

My heart breaks. I see you obviously moderate your comments and only ones you feel positive are permitted but I must tell you that my heart is broken over your husbands decision and your stance.
I am sure you are loving people but truthfully I am amazed that you would take the stand you have. It is shocking.

Carol said...

Penny - Yes, I monitor the comments. But the ones I don't allow are ones that say that change [of one's sexual orientation] is possible. I don't allow those who are critical or harsh toward gay or gay-affirming folks. I don't argue or bicker with others, but I do try to tell my story. I let my opinions and experiences be known so that others can feel supported and, hopefully, loved. I refuse very few comments.

You say you are shocked. what? Shocked that I still love my former husband, even though we are no longer husband/wife? Shocked that I believed him when he said he prayed every day to be made straight, and his prayers were never heard? Shocked that I support other people in the same situation? Shocked that I realize that sexual orientation is never "switched" by God, therapy, or any form of denial?

Or are you shocked that I have forgiven and continued to love? Are you shocked that I have decided to believe that God accepts us all, just as God made us? Are you truly shocked by the fact that I have tried to rebuild my faith, even though I have had every real thing in my life swept away?

Yes, I find all of that shocking as well.

Jarred said...

Carol, I absolutely love your response to Penny. It's full of such fierce compassion.