Friday, August 24, 2007

God is not close to me.

Yesterday, thanks to a friend I will not call jim, I found an important article which you simply must read.

Turns out, mother theresa wasn’t much different from the hymn writers we like to ignore. you know – the people who wrote beautiful songs about the faith – but at the same time had very little actual faith? or, to put it another way – lived a life of despair – wondering why god would leave them for so long.

Mother Theresa – who lived her life about as nobly as any human ever has – who is held up as the greatest saint of modern times – says that for 50 years, she struggled with despair, and she felt that god was nowhere near her. 50 YEARS.

I can’t tell you how many people have said to me things like this: “brian – I understand that you are going through doubts about the faith – doubts about christianity – I’ve been there – I remember this one time, I struggled for an entire six weeks with whether or not I believed in god…”

I’ve also been told how important it is for me to move away from doubts and struggles, toward faith and belief. I’m not saying I’m anything like mother theresa. but I am saying that her life indicates that maybe it’s not so simple – this process of escaping doubts and unbelief.

The thing is – I struggle with belief on an ongoing basis. and I have, well, for years now. I’m still in the game, and for some mysterious reason I still love the church, pretty sure about that, but I struggle to believe that god is real, that god will show up, that god is good, every single day of my life. I think this is why I write so many songs. why I write so much music to old hymn text. It’s like my way of constantly expressing my desire to believe, and yet my inability to feel like god is anywhere close. these ideas come out in music way better than they do with words.

So for all of you out there who also struggle to believe. who wonder where god is. who wonder why he won’t show up and provide comfort, rest, and hope. please read this article about mother theresa (or if nothing else, the quote below). you are not as alone as you might think you are.

Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone ... Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?

— addressed to Jesus (from mother theresa), at the suggestion of a confessor


Bryan said...

i also found this news story interesting - almost encouraging in a way. even the most faithful looking people have mankind's common struggle of belief. if only more people were honest enough to admit it. thank heavens we are not dependent on our own faithfulness but on christ's. we would surely be the most hopeless of people, otherwise.

Charlotte said...

I saw this article early this morning when I should have been sleeping but was reading news instead. I found it quite comforting.

kristen said...

I am glad to not be alone.

susan said...

Once, I heard an Anglican priest talk about this and I didn't believe it. He took great comfort in it, but I have always found it to be incredibly upsetting.

allison said...

props for your last three blogs. and downtown ymca. keep up the good work (ing out). thanks for posting the article.

Queen of the Squirrels said...

That was humbling to read, Brian. Thank you. That she could keep going through decades of doubt gives me great reassurance. That she had decades of doubt gives me great reassurance.

She didn't give up. Even though she was plagued with doubts, she kept on trying to do God's work. It's really inspiring to read.

brian prentiss said...

I think a lot of modern Christians would doubt King David's faith if they read his blog.

brian prentiss said...

I've been lurking for a while and thought I would finally pay my dues with a post.

bruce said...

Doesn't this beg the question though, as a response to 'what if we read King David's blog', why didn't Mother Theresa ever come out and say any of these things publicly? And, after 50 years of doubt, she still believed and supported the work of the Church and her vows - why?

What does it mean to 'go public' with doubt?

Brian T. Murphy said...

bryan - definitely encouraging to me. helps me remember that the people who we hold up as really having it together, have it together the least.

charlotte - yeah I read it when I should have been doing, well, something else. it's a long article but I just sort of kept reading it.

kristen - me too.

allison - thanks. and three cheers for the downtown ymca, where I feel slightly less insecure with each consecutive visit.

queen - good to hear from you. always good to hear from humans in the southern hemisphere. how's the winter? it's hot here. like, really hot. and yes. mother theresa is fantastically inspiring. I am looking forward to reading / learning more about her.

brian prentiss - well. haven't talked to you in a long time. hope you are well. and yes, I agree about david. actually, most of the people in the bible were pretty bad christians, it seems. good thing the didn't have blogs back then. or maybe it would have been better if they did. definitely would have made the bible a good bit shorter. thanks for the comment, and welcome to theworstweblogintheworld.

Brian T. Murphy said...

bruce - that's a lovely theoretical question. I'm sure we could talk about that for a long time.

all I'm saying is, mother theresa gives me hope.

bruce said...


and you are screening our call

Brian T. Murphy said...

it is true about me being a pansy. and it is true about the call screening, though I screen most calls, so don't feel special about it.

I am home at the moment, but I'm headed right back out the door.

I appreciate the invitation, wish I could visit. and if you are up later I will swing by.

this is the most personal, inside-conversation type of comment I have ever posted.