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