Losing My Faith
I haven’t written in a long time. I have told myself it was because I feel disconnected from the world in my long wait for my husband to get out of prison, and that’s part of it, but it’s also more than that.
It’s because I feel like I have lost my faith in healing, in the goodness of humanity, and in the project of repairing all the broken things in the world. And without that, I don’t know what to write. I feel I have nothing to offer.
But writing is about sharing your experience, whatever it is, and maybe you can relate. Maybe this about more than me. Maybe we have to examine as a community what exactly we put our faith in.
I’ve come to the conclusion over the last 5 years that most of what I called faith before was the direct result of living in a bubble of privilege. I could maintain a belief that humans were on the cusp of a transformation of consciousness and that personal healing would change the world because in my little bubble, that was true. Personal breakthroughs and healing were the subject of most of my conversations, and it felt like that was all that really mattered.
But in a world where the majority of people have no access to even basic healthcare, let alone adequate mental healthcare, the kind of in-depth inner and interpersonal transformational work I used to spend most of my time doing is like trying to put out a wildfire with your garden hose. You might, if you work really hard, be able to protect your house, but you can’t stop the fire. It’s simply not enough.
The reality of most people on Earth is that they lack the access or resources most of us would deem necessary for basic health & wellbeing, and must live with the externalized costs of the consumerism that wealthier people and nations take for granted. We live in a grossly unequal world, and the cost of the damage to the planet has already caused the extinction of a terrifyingly high number of species on Earth. (“Since 1970 humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles.”)
In light of that reality, of what value are communication skills, awareness of trauma, and personal healing & growth? What place do these things have in the face of such devastation? And I haven’t even mentioned the prison-industrial complex and the vastness of human suffering in our own communities that is rendered invisible simply because we have decided that some people’s suffering does not count.
I still believe healing is a force for good, but I don’t believe it is enough to change the tide of human destruction. It is too slow, too laborious, too culture-dependent, and too alien to too many people.
And yet, I have no other answer. I have looked on many levels for some explanation of why humans do this to ourselves, each other, and our fellow creatures, and all I have come up with is that as a species, we do not handle power well, and like many species, we will multiply and devour our surroundings until we hit some natural limit. Unfortunately we are so successful at being an invasive species that we may take the entire planet down in search of a limit. Self-restraint is not our strong suit.
However, I also believe we are not just animals. I believe we each have a soul, or some spiritual aspect to who we are, and that is the only thing that could actually change the equation. But we also have free will, and we may not choose what is best for the planet or ourselves.
If I were to spell out the basic tenets of my faith, it would be:
- The Earth and the Universe are living, connected energy systems that we are part of
- We can sense and connect to this energy system through an internal process and receive guidance about how to live in harmony and alignment
- We are each “spiritual beings having an Earth experience”
- We choose to be born with certain goals or experiences we wish to have, to learn and grow, and we can also get in touch with those internally
- If we all did this, we could act in harmony and create a world that works, because most violence and destruction is not inherently a part of life, it is something we are choosing to create out of disconnection and ignorance
- There is no external savior that is going to do this for us; we each have to choose this ourselves.
But I no longer have faith that this healing and transformation is inevitable. I don’t know that the impulse to heal and connect is stronger than the impulse to consume, destroy, enjoy the benefits of power-over, and ignore the impact on others and ultimately ourselves. To say we have free will means we really can choose the wrong thing, and nobody will stop us. We have to grow up, and it doesn’t seem like we are doing that.
And so, in my day to day life, which consists mostly of trying to manage self-care while feeling crushed under one of the more oppressive institutions our species has invented, I feel forlorn when I think of the bigger picture. I can’t sustain a vision of how the tide can turn. I can’t see how humans can unwind this vast network of life-denying structures or escape the ecological collapse that seems far more inevitable than that we figure out our shit as a species.
But I still believe, and try, to look for that guidance inside myself, to slow down and feel grateful, to feel the Earth under my feet, and stare at the stars and ask for help. I don’t know what else to do. When I check in with myself, and ask if I am where I’m supposed to be, the answer is always yes. I just don’t feel connected to the rest of humanity. I feel like a car stuck in neutral, unable to engage with the human race. I am in a kind of limbo, waiting for my life to be able to move forward again, watching the world go by, just witnessing. And it’s hard to watch the world look like it is falling apart around me and getting worse every year.
Maybe, in two years, when this chapter of my life is over, I will have something that feels like wisdom to offer. For now, I only know how to be in the waiting, and sit with the world as it is.
When you have an experience in life that strips away everything you thought you knew, and everything you thought was real, that is when you find what is actually real and cannot be taken from you.
So in the end, if a faith can be lost, it is not a true faith. It is not the ultimate Ground of Being from which all possibilities arise. And so, while I may feel alone and faithless, I can still feel there is some thread inside me that is connected, and I am having an experience that is teaching me something I could not learn any other way. That is what our souls come here to do.
So I choose to respect that, to trust that, and to be present to it. I know that no matter how hard it is to see the path, it is there under my feet, and my job is only to do my best to just keep walking.
P.S. Thanks to Larisa for reminding me I can actually just write about what I’m experiencing, whatever it is.