God Left Me With a Broken Heart, When I Was Seeking Him With ALL MY HEART
If you’re newly deconstructing your faith, intentionally or unintentionally, I want you to know that, with a lot of hard work, time does heal. I remember a year ago so clearly. I woke up one day and my faith didn’t wake up with me. I opened my eyes one morning and realized the god I had believed in all my life was gone. He left me. And when he left, he left a huge gaping hole in my heart and a vast numbness in my mind so deep and intense that I literally couldn’t even think to try to process what was wrong with me. I just knew that my ability to have any faith at all had disappeared into thin air, without any warning that it would be doing a complete disappearance act.
To say I was devastated would be an understatement.
There are not adequate words to describe the torture I underwent in my mind trying to figure out what happened and who I was now without my belief system. My faith was my entire life. It was my entire identity. It was what defined me. It was who I was. Without my faith, I had no reason to exist. No purpose. No meaning.
I held out hope for months. I searched for god with everything I had. I looked for him high and low. I reasoned that this was a phase like depression and he would come back. I waited. And searched, and waited and searched some more.
I watched in horror, almost as an observer, as my faith continued to stay so far away I couldn’t even see a hint of it to grasp at anymore.
I felt like a mentally handicapped person, lacking the ability to think a specific thought, and because of my limited ability, this god was going to punish me in hell forever for something I was totally incapable of. He was going to punish me for a thought I couldn’t think. This terrified and devastated me. My insides screamed in horror and I searched for answers and found none.
Hadn’t my God promised me that “you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart?" And all those verses about ask, seek, knock...and the promise to answer. Where the heck was he? And if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can move mountains? I’m CERTAIN I had that much faith and more with the size of my search party going on in my head.
So. Many. Broken. Promises.
Then there’s the story of Job. God allowed him to be tested and he did nothing wrong. Maybe I was like Job, in a sense. God didn't take my family physically, but in taking my faith, it estranged me from nearly everybody and everything I LOVED and lived for. Even my parents turned out to be Job’s friends when I tried to tell them the dilemma I was facing. Labeling me a prodigal. Telling me I wouldn’t go to church because I was afraid god would speak to me. (My response to that was I sure wish god would speak to me! Why would I be afraid of something I’m begging and craving for!?)
My parents also told me god was going to get me good and judge me harshly if I didn’t come back to him. I tried to tell them I didn’t leave and I didn’t want this. They wouldn’t listen. They couldn’t hear me because they had their own formulations in their heads from the church teachings of what an unbeliever is thinking. This rejection of my unwanted experience from the people I love most made the pain of what I thought was darkness stab even deeper.
The loneliness felt unbearable.
Well-meaning friends tried to tell me what I needed to do, as if there was a formula.
A lot of fundamentalism in religion is a formula. "Do A to get B...and if you end up with C...you are doing something wrong. It's you. It's always you that's the problem. You are wrong. It's black and white."
My friends and family needed me back in the fold. My change was rocking their world. They didn’t understand how somebody who so fervently served God and so passionately led people to him, could turn her back. they didn’t hear me when I told them I didn’t turn my back. I didn’t make this choice. And I couldn’t go back. because I didn’t leave god. God left me. Those three words seemed like blasphemy to many family and friends as they denied my own personal experience. It’s okay. They don’t understand. They can’t. I get that.
They believed the lies that many Christians believe about why some Christians walk away from the church. (Click the link to read the article)
I finally surrendered to the unknown (those of you who’ve seen frozen 2 know how many of us can fully relate to Elsa lol). In March 2019, I walked away from the church building completely. What they offered there was taken from me. I couldn't get it back, and it was not returning. It was no longer a part of me. I still loved the people very much, and while it tore my heart out to leave, it hurt more to stay. I could no longer be a part of their belief system, and I had no idea why. All I knew was it had left me. I wished desperately that I could have those people still outside of religion. Outside of them thinking something was wrong with me and I needed to be fixed. Some of them stayed. Most of them left.
Some of my best friends (or so I thought), quickly labeled me "an enemy of the cross of Christ" and held gossip sessions with friends on facebook in the form of prayer requests and concern for my kids.
My heart was gaping wide open with the biggest wound I had ever experienced in my entire life. I didn’t know how I could ever recover from this. I didn’t know who I even was anymore. I lost my entire belief system, my entire identity, my sense of belonging, my community, my passion of playing in worship band, my joy in leading people to Jesus. WHO WAS I NOW!?
It hurt so deeply I remember collapsing on my bed over and over for days and months just drowning in emotions and tears for everything I had lost and couldn’t find or get back no matter how high, low, deep, or wide I searched. In fact the harder I tried, the stronger the resistance seemed to get.
I established a new identity online. I created fake social media accounts on twitter and fb and joined secret ex-Christian, exvangelical groups where I found a whole community of people like me. These communities were life savers for me. These people got me. They encouraged me like no other. They were beside me in my deepest pain ever. They would message me and even call me when I was at my lowest.
There are people before me, with me, and behind me in this journey. And it’s a beautiful thing how we are there for each other, each of us encouraging, grasping, embracing, and holding space for the ones behind us who are struggling. We are a community of true friends like I had never known.
A year ago, when it all disappeared, the ones ahead of me always told me it gets better. That I would be okay. I desperately wanted to believe them. But my mind kept telling me, “it might get better for them, but not for you...you’re gonna be tortured for the rest of your life in this hell in your our mind.” Hope felt gone, way too distant, not for me, unattainable.
Even when I "give up," I am relentless when it comes to searching. I don’t give up until I find answers...one way or another I will find peace. My stubbornness and desire for wholeness comes in handy in so many ways. In my exhausting search, in summer of 2019, I realized my resistance to what was, and my constant striving to still bring back what had died in me, needed to be over.
Beating a dead horse is not going to bring it back to life.
So I opened my hands...and I let go of trying to hold on to anything anymore. I released my desire to have all the answers, figure it out, and bring my faith back to life. I accepted where I was. Picked myself up. And moved forward with my life. You can’t keep move forward while constantly looking backward. And as I turned my face toward my future instead of staring at my past, I felt a glimpse of freedom in my heart. I felt a lightness and an assurance that I was going to be okay.
And this is where my healing began.
They were right...life does get good again. It can get better. I am healing beautifully...in ways I never imagined.
And your healing is possible too.
Reach out. Shoot me an email or DM.
You are not alone. I’m here for you.
Learn more about my journey in my book coming out this spring! "Dear Kimberly...Love Makayla: The Unraveling of My Evangelical Faith Into the Unknown."
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