(Writer’s Block) When it doesn’t come naturally

This article originally ran in issue 78:10 of the Moody Standard, on April 17, 2013 as an installment of the author’s bi-monthly column, “Writer’s Block.”

I chose to attend Moody one night deep in the Shanghai skyline. Shanghai reminded me of downtown Chicago, and while walking around that Chinese city looking for last-minute souvenirs, I knew I wanted to spend the next four years under similar city lights.

But there was another underlying reason why I finally narrowed it down Moody, a reason that had already brightened and polished up the arrow pointing to the city instead of the one towards the ‘burbs: I wanted the reasons, the apologetics, the arguments. I wanted to understand my faith in God as best and as intellectually as I possibly could. I was raised in the church and given the basics, but I wanted the terms, the definitions, the logical explanations for everything the world told me was utterly ridiculous about my faith.

I thought experiencing the scholarly side would be the key to unlocking a simple faith that hadn’t come easily for me.

But it wasn’t, was it? “Faith Seeking Understanding” only goes so far; at some point it all comes back to simple faith.

I’m jealous, you see. I’m jealous of you, or at least the many of you, to whom faith comes so easily. Oh, you have just as many as struggles as I do, certainly, but the level on which we struggle with faith is somehow different. I don’t know who you are; just because someone doesn’t seem to struggle as I do in this doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t. But I know you exist, and I am jealous.

I strain to describe to you exactly what the struggle is. Those who have felt the same might already understand. Here is what it’s not: It’s not a lack of desire to feel close to God. It’s not ignoring that there is personal responsibility. Because I’ve been on the floor of the office deep at night, sobbing tears, crying out to God to just let me know him. And I’ve sent prayers to my ceiling over and over through the years, asking for a hunger for Scripture, rather than just a feeling of duty.

It is, rather, a frustration, an envy, that this deep, easy connection with God which comes easily for some does not come as naturally for me.

I don’t know why I was created this way. I don’t know why I struggle so greatly with finding the motivation to crack open my Bible when peers around me plunge into it like fresh water after a shipwreck.

But I do know a couple of things: I was, in fact, created exactly as I am, natural cynicism and all. I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. I may still fight it. I may still glare at the heavens once in a while, embittered that I don’t feel it the way others do.

But I also know I should see it as a challenge to keep praying, asking, seeking, instead of giving in to unending jealousy and frustration.

My college journey began under Shanghai’s skyline, and it will end under Chicago’s. I know a lot more now, but none of those lectures, as much as they have taught me, have been the ticket to the end of my struggles with simple faith.

To you who find God easily, to whom faith has never been a real question, never take that for granted. And to you who are like me, cynics and skeptics alike, keep searching with me, keep asking with me, keep praying with and for me, and I’ll do the same.

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