What does a world without God look like?
That’s not really a question I grew up considering. I was raised in a church, albeit a forward-thinking, questions-encouraged, find-your-own-faith version. I believed. I went to Sunday school, I said my prayers before bedtime, I sang “Jesus Loves Me.”
I didn’t really think about Questions of Faith until I was a teenager (and really, don’t we all when we’re teenagers?), and because I’d grown up knowing questions were okay, I asked a lot. I pulled far, far, far away from my childhood faith, but the belief was still basically there: there was a God of some kind and He probably heard my prayers and if He didn’t act on them, there was likely a good reason.
I didn’t claim any particular faith or doctrine, because what I believed didn’t really fit anywhere. But I muddled along, clinging to a tenuous connection to Something Greater and leaning on that connection when things got hard.
And then I had my son.
If you’ve read about his birth, you know he was born with a small birth defect and had to have surgery the day after he was born. It gutted me – I’ve never been so terrified. The day of his surgery, after he was in recovery and I’d had to go back to my room (after all, I’d just had surgery the day before, hadn’t I?), the hospital chaplain came and prayed with me. She prayed that he would be well and strong, and that I would know strength, too.
I cried, my heart breaking for my tiny son and what he had already had to endure.
That was the day that I began to realize:
I didn’t believe in God anymore.
See, my boy was the healthiest kid in the NICU. When I’d go to see him, I’d walk past these glass-walled rooms housing other babies, babies who couldn’t be touched, who couldn’t be held, who couldn’t be kissed. Babies who were barely in this world and some who wouldn’t stay for long.
My child was fine. He would be coming home. Some of those other babies, they would not.
I could no longer justify my belief in God with the suffering of babies. Or with people dying of treatable diseases in far away countries, or children crushed in earthquakes, or women raped as an act of war. I couldn’t believe that God just maybe liked me and my baby more than those other women and their babies.
I had to conclude that the God I thought was there just…wasn’t.
I miss God. I miss having faith. I miss not feeling alone when I’m scared, miss the safety of believing there is a plan of some kind guiding my life. I am deeply sorry that I will never kneel by The Noodle’s bedside with him and hear him recite, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”
I sometimes wish I could find a way back to my childhood faith, but that’s a little bit like wanting to wear my childhood clothes. I am not that person anymore; it just wouldn’t fit.