I’m joining the synchroblog for the release of A Christian Survival Guide: A Lifeline to Faith and Growth by answering the prompt: ‘What saved my faith?’”
We had bought a house and moved across the country. I was two weeks away from starting my new job as a full-time English professor. We had just finished unpacking.
Then, my husband left.
My parents came up and took me home to a week that I spent crying, attempting one counseling session that he had already decided was useless and that I had to pick him up and drop him off from, asking questions like, “What do I do with our wedding photos?” (Note, I burned most of them later – not out of anger but out of cleansing.), and helping my mother paint the youth Sunday School room at church.
The next week, my mom went back to my new house with me to help me decorate and rearrange furniture now that he had come and taken everything he wanted from the space. We hung curtains and closed the door on the bedroom that had been intended for his music studio. And I began work – I wrote syllabi and met my colleagues and probably attended meetings. I don’t remember much.
Mom and I picked up a puppy.
Then, my mom went home. And there I was in this 3-bedroom house with a dog who needed to walk a lot and a job that took a lot of time . . . and no one I knew closer than an hour away.
I’ve never tried to write about this before.
I met a man – a kind man – who came and leaned against the wall of my office, who let me stand at the door of his, who talked to me about words and art and all the things that had nothing to do with that other man, the one who was gone. We went out for dinner – just a month later – and I tossed my wedding ring from my finger into the Bay. This new man took that as bravery when really it was simply bravado and grief.
That night, we sat in my new, big house talking. Until dawn. He called me a few hours later.
I feel like I’m leaving out too much and saying too much at the same time.
Sometime that first week of that new thing, I was riding in my car to find a grocery store that sold organic vegetarian food. I was gleeful at the newness and raw from grief and loss. I was sobbing, and I can remember just the point on the road – by an open field next to the Rita’s and before that light I would stop at 5,000 times in the next 3 years – where I whispered:
God, please don’t let me get so far away that I can’t get back.
What saved my faith? What told me to pray that prayer? I can only name this – I knew beyond anything else in the world that God loved me, all of me, my wounded parts and my healthy ones. And I knew that this love would never let me go.
Grief and loss and the iffy decisions that I made in that dark hour led me far, led me to push hard against the edges of my faith to see what would break away and what would stand. And all that while, when I battered away at the false promises of ease and lifelong marriage, as the accusations about divorce and celibacy lobbed from without and within, that love held my core tight and firm, reminding me in groans I could neither utter or hear that I was profoundly and deeply loved by One who is love.
That, that is what saved my faith. Love. Pure. Hard. Simple.
I cannot express the way my faith feels now except that it doesn’t feel closed or worried. Just open, secure, tested.
8 years later, that grief has passed most days, and that new man is long gone and old. Now, THE new man, the only man stands beside me in every new adventure, gives me strength, talks to me about books, and holds our goats while we tend their hooves. I am on solid ground again.
I stand now in a solid place with quiet faith. Faith much more spiritual and open than the one I took on as a young woman. Faith that accepts the teachings of other faiths and finds the truth of her own lived out in meditation and chants and the deep prayers of long walks. Now, my faith is battered and scarred, but it is stronger, more broad, more rooted. I would not trade any of where I am for a moment of that past. I never went so far that I couldn’t get back to all the goodness I have been gifted. A prayer answered.
What saved your faith?
Write your own post answering that question and then visit www.edcyzewski.com to learn how you can join the synchroblog or to read additional posts to celebrate the release of Ed’s book A Christian Survival Guide, which is discounted on Amazon this week and is FREE today.
Or just share your thoughts below.