By nature, I am a very analytical person. It suits me well in my job... as an auditor, I take the work that someone else has done and test it every which way I can to make sure it was done correctly. Not only am I looking for simple errors, but also making sure that any assumptions relied on in preparing the work are valid, and perhaps more importantly, reliable. I realize I often unconciously apply this "testing" to other parts of my life. As I type this my first year English professor's words pop into my head, he always said "question everything!". I guess that about sums it up.
Anyway, my point is... this habit has proven very difficult lately. When I was young (early teens) I was very involved in youth groups, etc and it was easy to go to church camp for a week and come back feeling energized and satisfied with what I knew about God. I didn't really dig deeper and "question everything" like I do now. My life over the last 15 years has not revolved much around God. I went from student, to wife, to mother before I had any real self-confrontation with my beliefs.
In getting older, I noticed how most of the truly "religious" people I knew were either old (by my standards anyway) or had suffered some sort of tragedy that drove them into the arms of God. As to the former, I couldn't help but wonder if it wasn't merely because the elderly were afraid to die, and thus bought into this pipe dream of eternal life. After all, what could it hurt? If they believed they were saved, and they were right, they got their reward. If they were wrong, and dying really meant the end of every part of their being... then they would never know or care anyway because they would be gone!
This was my thinking, back and forth, back and forth, until my tragedy came. All of a sudden I was part of that group. I found myself turning to and leaning on someone that I hadn't acknowledged daily in years. Was I just a coward? Was I trying to make myself feel better by buying into the same pipe dream of Heaven, believing that I would see my son again one day? I started going to church again regularly and it seemed like this time around, everything I learned... I questioned. I didn't want to, I wanted to get back to that childlike faith that we are supposed to have, that I used to have. But it simply wasn't there. Was it because as an adult I was not as susceptible to the teachings of a cult's way of thinking? (It hurts me now to even use that word, but that is honestly how at odds with myself I was). This tiny little voice kept telling me that as much as I wanted to believe in my faith, it was much more logical to believe that it was just some fantastic story that gives hope to the hopeless.
It was literally months of bible studies, Sunday schools and sermons before another tiny voice whispered "seek and you shall find". It was as simple as that. I turned it over and over in my head. It wasn't the tragedy itself that fueled my faith, it was the fact that the tragedy had caused me to seek God again. No wonder I had gone 15 years without a daily acknowledgement of Him... to all of a sudden praying and studying his word... I actually LOOKED for Him. I am ashamed that I hadn't done it in so long, but it makes perfect sense to me now. True believers are not just running scared into a sea of false hope, they are realizing the blessings and comforts He has to offer... because they sought after them.
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." - Matthew 7:7-8
So to anyone who has ever felt the way I felt, or that simply has trouble buying into God's word, the fact that Jesus died for our sins, or that Heaven is a real place, I would simply say... have you asked God if it's real? Have you ever really, truly tried to seek His presence? It shouldn't have taken me so long to figure it out. I am being guided and filled by his love again, and believing in His promises again... simply because I looked for Him again.