Today I have completed twenty-five years of life. I’ve been excited about the presents and in denial about being a quarter of a century old. But last night as I put my birthday pie into the refrigerator to chill, I couldn’t deny it any longer. Twenty-five years, and life is not quite what I had meant for it to be.
I am turning twenty-five and I am not yet a novelist, I do not have a college degree, I’m questioning the faith I grew up with and instead of being rock solid in it, I have short hair, only two kids, and read Nietszche for enlightenment and entertainment. I am looking for truth and kindness and it’s leading me to read atheists nihilists, pagans, and (even worse to my former self) liberal christians!
I feel, in turns, both empowered and bereft.
When our first child was born three and a half years ago, I started questioning spanking and eventually conflict-based parenting altogether.
The book Grace Based parenting offered a few answers, but inspired even more questions.
I’ve been wrestling with things like women’s role in a family and a church, hell, homosexuality, evolution, the Bible, and everything else I thought I would always be certain on.
Twenty-five years old and what do I have to show for it but a half finished novel, a faith deconstructed, and a mind full of questions?
But there were problems in my faith. Legalism, accidental self-righteousness, a life based more on avoiding sin than on freedom or love.
I thought I could paper over the problems with a bit of extra kindness, charity, and non-violent parenting. Just a little sprucing up and it would be as good as new. Only I kept noticing buckles in the walls.
I thought I could simply gut the house, put up new interior walls with a bit of Rob Bell and Rachel Held Evans and interpreting scriptures through understanding the culture in which they were written.
But there were still questions, still problems.
And I’ve torn it down. With my bare hands I tore down my house – foolish woman.
And I wept.
I wept because I am twenty-five, and the house I thought would protect me forever didn’t offer true protection in the end, and there were still the bits of broken glass and splinters of wood to clear out of the dirt, and no one is going to understand unless they too have torn down their faith in a search for truth.
And after weeping, I slept. Then I woke up. Twenty-five years old, with the whole universe open to me and to my search for truth and I danced on the ruins, in the now open place, a woman dancing under the sun.
Maybe I will never have a solid house to barricade myself inside with the truth, but I will have freedom and I will hunt for the truth myself.
I am twenty-five, I am my own person, I will live and love and think. Maybe one day I will build again, but for now I camp in the space of questions, questions as infinite as the stars and I am full of questions and starlight.
Happy birthday to me. This is my gift to myself: space to question.