I wrote what I believe to be the final chapter of my next memoir last night (which I’m now calling “Confessions of a Jew-ish Skeptic.” Less of a mouthful and more attention-grabbing). 125 pages and just shy of 30,000 words. How do you know for sure if a story about your life is finished? Good question; I have no idea. But where I ended last night just felt like a good stopping point – hopeful yet not neatly tied up with a bow, the way all my favorite memoirs end.
I also started reading Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking the Idol of Certainty by Gregory Boyd, which helped inspire my book’s ending. As the title implies, Boyd posits that feeling secure in belief over secure in God are two different things, and the former is a form of idolatry. I had to think about that for a while, because those two things are so tied up in each other, it’s hard to tell them apart. How can you be secure in God without being secure in belief? It seems like an oxymoronic proposition.
Yesterday I had an anxiety attack in church. Literally in church, right in the middle of a sermon about how God heals people. There was a video presentation featuring stories of congregants who were spontaneously healed of everything from paralysis to arthritis to viral infections, and I got up and stormed out, and spent the rest of the service bawling in the ladies room. I understood the so-called oxymoron then: I am secure that there is a God. I am certain this God is a Creator, and everything good in this world is from him. I am not at all secure in the belief that this God is solely responsible for healing people when modern medicine does so much, and this idea of God healing some over others sounds a lot like a prosperity gospel to me.
But regardless of what I believe about suffering and healing does not sway my belief that Jesus rose from the dead. Is that the crux I should be focusing on? According to Boyd, it is.
I hope when people read this new book (I’m anticipating a spring 2016 release), they will understand that it’s a documentation of a woman on a journey, and not at all a treatise about capital-T Truth. Inevitably, an individual’s story of faith will be labeled inspirational by some and heresy by others. I personally don’t read spiritual memoirs for “truth,” but rather out of interest in the way experiences shape us.
All of us are on individual paths of discovery, which means at many points we will be walking contradictions. That’s not hypocrisy, but the natural process of figuring out life as we go (how else can you do it?).
There is one thing I’m certain about, and it’s been a very long, twisted road to get to this conclusion: I believe my faith is strong enough to handle being wrong about something without the whole thing tumbling like a house of cards.