What Do I Call Myself?

It’s hard to find the words to describe myself.

Am I a nonbeliever? An agnostic? A heretic?  An infidel?  These terms suggest that I have lost my identity and am reacting erratically  like a bouncing pinball. But I haven’t lost myself. I’m growing up.

 “What happened that made you lose your faith?” asked a friend. 

There was no one event.  Others like me have said it is like “dying from a thousand cuts,” meaning that it happened gradually.

I remember the first time I seriously questioned my belief nearly two decades ago. I was sick and unhappy, and I prayed hard for help.  I didn’t need much–just some kind of reassurance, some indication that the loving God about whom I preached was really there.  It never happened.  How could I not question his existence?  With the exception of one friend, everyone shushed me and told me not to let my mind entertain doubts. 

I did what they told me. I decided that no matter what, I would continue to believe. I continued to develop my career as a minister. I went back to school and got my Master of Divinity.  When I felt doubt I told myself what I told other people: “You still have a choice.”

I chose to believe until I gave up. 

You know what? I lost some friends, a career, and a marriage, but life didn’t end for me. It started to get better.  I started to grow rather than diminish.  A year later, I have a little more peace and feel a little less broken. I have love and happiness. I have new thoughts and new opportunities. 

So back to the question: What do I call myself?

That’s easy.  I am David

4 thoughts on “What Do I Call Myself?

  1. First off, a thank you. I always enjoy reading you, especially when I don’t necessarily agree with everything you’ve said.This is not one of those. I always have and always will get irritated by two things that I hear too often. The first is to not question or doubt. The second is that God will always fix everything. If I don’t doubt and question, how can I find an answer? The second is more complicated but I will shorten it as much as I can. I do not rely on and maybe do not believe in, the miracles my family always insists are there. I see all of creation as a perfect miracle that does not need daily tweaking and help. Like everyone, my life is not always rainbows and puppies. There has never been a time when I felt completely alone. This is the basis for my faith. Sure, it can be explained away easily enough. If I ever felt truly abandoned, I am unsure how I would react. That would be difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Michael. I’ve always said that the church ought to be the safest context in which to ask questions… to wonder, speculate, and even doubt. But the community doesn’t allow itself that privilege. I’m so glad you have never felt alone… does that mean you sense a divine presence?

    Thank you for the comment.

    Like

  3. No..No..No, I am David! 🙂
    It’s funny that you said that because a book I was trying to write a few years ago about my religion/atheism was called just that “I am… David”.

    To be honest, I didn’t get much flack from my siblings in regards to me coming out as an Atheist. If my Mother was alive at the time, I’m sure her strict Roman Catholicism would emerge! The only other person who had a hard time with it was a friend of the family who just questioned things “You like Hiking Right” -yeah- “Who do you think created all those trees”.

    However, in life, there will be many people who will find out you are (atheist/agnostic/infidel/David or whatever term you may use) and try to challenge you. For me, that is fine because I feel secure in who I am.. (but it still bothers me off that *anyone* would challenge another persons worldview)

    Great blog thus far, I will follow along!

    Like

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