Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Walking the Tightrope

24 Comments

It’s a long way down…

Decisions are a part of life.  We make them everyday.  Mostly little decisions, like what to have for breakfast or what we’ll wear to work.  Lately I’ve been facing some pretty big decisions.

This is where I’d pray before,  where I’d search for God’s hand in every little detail.  I’d take this thing to be a sign I should do that.  I’d take that thing as a sign I should do this.  I’d beg for Him to show me what He wanted me to do.  I’d deliberate over scriptures and circumstances to draw a conclusion I thought best matched a Godly decision.

As confusing as all that was I found comfort in it.  I’m not sure how I ever thought I knew what God wanted me to do, but somehow I was certain I did.  Feeling like I was doing God’s will gave me safety.  Even if things didn’t work out, even if they turned out to be a total mess, I could always say I thought I was doing what I felt led to do.  If it was God’s will then whatever the outcome was what was supposed to be.  Not only that, but God would turn it all for good because I loved Him. For God works all things together for good for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

I’ll be honest and say that I’ve been a little tempted to pray.  Only a little.  I don’t really think there’s a personal God up there pulling the strings of my life, orchestrating it’s minutest details.  My friend keeps saying things like, “God loves you and He knows what the outcomes will be even before you do. He knows what you need.”  I don’t even have the heart to tell her I don’t believe that.  Even if there is a God I don’t believe He operates that way.  If there is a God, which I have doubts about, He just spun this whole thing in motion and walked away.

I have a loving support system around me but still sometimes without a personal God who’s working it all together for my good it feels like I’m out here on my own, walking the tightrope without a net.  And it’s a long way down.  They can give me advice and opinions, but they can’t make decisions for me.  Not the way I used to think God did.  In a lot of ways it’s better this way, even if it is scary.

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24 thoughts on “Walking the Tightrope

  1. It sounds to me like you’re having a rough time, D’Ma. I hope it passes quickly!

    When I read posts like this one, it fascinates me how much faith must have meant to you! Thanks to you and a few other bloggers, I think I now see better than I ever have some of the attractions of faith. Previously, I narrowly (and perhaps stupidly) regarded it as merely an unwarranted conclusion — and who would want that? Your posts have been quite valuable to me.

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    • “When I read posts like this one, it fascinates me how much faith must have meant to you!”

      This is what frustrates me so much when a TrueBeliever comes along and says things like, “You were never a TrueBeliever,” or “You just didn’t want to answer to a God” or “You just wanted to do _______”. Fill in the blank yourself.

      For those of us who are walking this out it has been a difficult journey, not taken lightly. Yes, absolutely our faith meant, well, everything to us. That’s what makes it so difficult when it is shaken.

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      • When a TrueBeliever comes along and says things like that, it sounds to me like a case of their lying to you so that they can all the better lie to themselves. If they weren’t so insecure, they would not feel such a strong need to undermine your reasons for leaving the faith.

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  2. We seem to be walking through the same jungle. I too miss the idea of a personal god to take care of things for me. Now, when I feel the need to “pray” I usually address myself to whom it may concern. I figure it covers all the bases (just in case) and I don’t feel like a crazy talking to myself. The years of teaching and habits are so hard to break from.

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    • Don’t get me wrong. I have thrown a few, “Please help me through thises” out there into the universe. Usually immediately afterwords I think to myself, “what was that all about”. It’s not as if there’s anything or anyone out there who heard you who will make any difference whatsoever. But,like you said, the years of habits are hard to break from. And it really hasn’t hurt anyone as long as I know that, in the big picture, what we call things “working themselves out” are usually us making decisions and acting on them.

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  3. As a former fundamentalist Christian I understand what you mean perfectly. For me it was (and sometimes still is) difficult for me to go bed at night with the realization that there likely is not a concerned Heavenly Father keeping watch over me and who would, if willing, bring me safely through the night; that the burglar who passed my house in favor of one of my neighbors was acting according to natural factors rather than God’s divine plan. Still, the luck of the draw has been very good to me overall. But that could change any night. As to decisions, I think we humans tend to take ourselves and our place in the overall scheme of things too seriously. Self interest, I think, is an adequate guide so long as we don’t step all over others in the process. Besides, honor bright, even when we were Christians that is the way we operated, and then we would rationalize our way through the various Bible verses we sought out for counsel in the first place. For every “do not answer a fool according to his folly” (Proverbs 26:4),there is an “answer a fool according to his folly” (Prov. 26:5). One other thing about big decisions: they tend to look less big down the road a way.

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    • “Self interest, I think, is an adequate guide so long as we don’t step all over others in the process.”

      What about when it does affect other people? What guide do we use then?

      “Besides, honor bright, even when we were Christians that is the way we operated, and then we would rationalize our way through the various Bible verses we sought out for counsel in the first place.”

      Ya got that right, driver! And because of the myriad of verses that do just what you describe it is so very easy.

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  4. What a great photo! Conveys the true nature of your post. A good online friend of mine who has been an atheist now for probably almost 30 years still prays. 🙂 Not to God, not to anything supernatural. And actually for myself, praying was the last thing to go for me, but you know, sometimes I might speak into the air, to the universe, over the soil as I work in the garden . . . a prayer? Why not?

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    • I’m glad to know I’m not the only one. It’s like talking it out, just stating all the details out loud, kinda. I know it’s not going anywhere, but it makes me feel a little better, if only for a minute. 🙂

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  5. Pray tell – if I say a prayer am I a prayer? I know, the debil gonna git me for dat.

    Yes, isn’t it nice to have a big invisible friend so that you don’t have to shoulder the responsibility of your own decisions? How rude of reality to intervene!

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  6. In that case I still would suggest we still have to do what seems to us to be the best thing for us to do and the thing we will be able to do and continue to live in harmony with our principles and conscience. Anything less would be following precepts or conventional wisdom. I don’t say this makes decision making easy, but at it least it frees us a bit to make a good one based on how it really affects us.

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  7. I was going to comment in addition to Doug B, but you know, his comment is wise and doesn’t need any additions. 🙂

    Here are words that jump out in his reply that I like:

    harmony
    principles
    conscience

    I’d add:

    respect
    dignity
    honesty

    They all go hand in hand with one another . . . for yourself and for the “others.”

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  8. I hear you. I hear you D’ma.

    I often wish I could pray. The exercise of prayer is really good for helping us see the pros and cons of any situation. It is almost a way of sitting down with ourselves and seriously consider our options. It doesn’t matter that there isn’t a god up there listening. We are listening, and that’s what’s important.

    For the life of me, though, I can’t get myself to pray.

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    • Making a mental list of the pros and cons of decision making can never be bad, can it? I just hope no one hears me doing it out loud and then talking to myself about it. 🙂

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    • I really miss the meditative aspect of prayer, both for working out a decision and therapeutic value. I’ve been looking (lazily, I admit) for some sort of meditation that does the same.

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  9. I have not felt the desire to pray for a very long time, but Strangely enough, I sometimes feel a strong desire to worship. To take myself out of mundane, profane space, and place my mind and emotions in a holy space. The belief in a personal god who would grant favors was gone long before I lost the desire to worship a transcendent otherness. I rarely get those urges anymore, but I still sometimes get them.

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    • I actually get that feeling a whole lot more than the need to pray. In fact up until just a few days ago I hadn’t even contemplated praying in quite some time. I’d never been one to throw up those silly “popcorn” prayers about parking spaces and such. No, the whole reason I’ve felt the need to pray is because the decisions that I speak of are life altering. Though I suspect I’m making more of them than they really are.

      Anyway, I do get your point. I feel a stronger urge to worship than to pray, but I still feel that I do worship in a way. I don’t go to church. I don’t worship a God. But I’m still in awe of nature and humanity. And sometimes I just shut it all down and go to a place I suppose one might call holy.

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  10. I wish you a very Happy New Year! I have “faith” that you’ll be content, whichever why you decide. Once the dust settles, that is… 😉

    Enjoy the freedom!

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  11. Hi D’Ma. I really like your new format here. Happy New Year!
    My struggle to see concrete evidence of God’s hand in the world gets me thinking deist thoughts at times. I get frustrated with friends who think they can pray for parking spots or who announce that, “The Lord did [x],” every time some positive event occurs in their life. I want to say, “That looks an awful lot like normal life. Where exactly is the divine intervention?”
    The more I think these thoughts, the less I pray. At bottom, I still believe in a God who can and will intervene in the world. But my sense is that he does so sparingly. So it’s hard for me to pray with hopeful expectation. Yet I still do, though not with the same kind of assurance I once had (and that you describe above) that all will work out for the good.

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    • Ah, therein lies a quandry in and of itself. I never really prayed with the expectation that things would come out with my desired result. I always understood and believed that God would do it His way and it might not be the way I liked it. It’s just that I also believed even if it didn’t turn out the way I desired, it would still be to my benefit, or the benefit of someone else. God would somehow still work out my pain or the pain of someone else for the best. It would serve a purpose. I find it increasingly difficult to believe such things.

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  12. Hi D’Ma just getting around to catching up on your blog. I like your new blog home!

    You know I can really relate to this post. I have in the past few months wanted to pray. That’s also what I used to do in times of need. Instead I talked it out in my head or in the shower and I’ve thrown a few words out to the universe, figured it wouldn’t matter one way or the other.

    It’s not easy. Knowing what to do or how to handle situations that we once “turned over to God. I myself and having to find new coping mechanisms for dealing with some things. It’s been a difficult month for me. I hope whatever you are dealing with right now turns out just fine.

    I’ll be thinking about you.

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    • I’ve been thinking about you as well TAW. I’m sure it will all turn out fine, I just went a little wacky overthinking things(which I am prone to do). I used to never worry much, now I’ve turned into an incessant worrier. The Good Book does give some valuable advice in that regard. “Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow, today has enough of it’s own”. “Worrying won’t change it.”

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