I grew up in a very certain world. My dad worked in a prominent position at Focus on the Family and my mom was both the homemaker and the primary home-school teacher to my brother and I. My dad was home by 5:15 pm every night and my mom always had dinner on the table. My mornings started with family devotions over breakfast at 7 am and ended with family dinners that often included Scripture memory. Church was on Sunday mornings and Awana’s on Wednesday night. I had the coveted Christian upbringing and the epitome of a “godly family.” Life was scheduled, predictable, and safe.
But this certainty came with a price tag. Our list of rules and regulations of how to live and love others caused us to not only exist within a very confined space but it also forced us to wear a façade. The tiniest bit of doubt or unbelief was seen as weakness. Although it wasn’t overtly stated, the underlying belief was that if you had enough faith and trusted God enough, you should have your shit together. But of course, no one really has all their shit together, so instead, we just pretended like we did. We hid the broken pieces of our lives behind a happy smile or an “I’m blessed” response when asked how we were doing. If people didn’t see our mess, then hypothetically, it didn’t exist.
While causing us to hide our true selves, this also caused a level of judgment when it came to our fellow believers. If they were going through a difficult time or experiencing hardship, we first, took pity on them, and second, concluded that it was most likely due to a lack of faith (aka certainty). We then committed to praying for them. So in essence, we had this Christian thing figured out and they were still working on getting it figured out. See where I’m heading?
Everything was black and white, right or wrong, good or bad. We had all the answers. We were certain. It was so easy to judge the lives of others, so easy to point a finger or make an accusation with these “right” and “wrong” tools we possessed.
It was easy until that person experiencing hardship became you.
Then when something unexpected happens in your life (a diagnosis, the loss of a child, a divorce, or the discovery of an LGBT identity), you suddenly begin to see things very differently.
At first, we often put ourselves under the same scrutiny that we would for others.
What did I do wrong?
Why can’t I fix this?
Maybe I really don’t have enough faith.
I promise I’ll try harder God, if only (fill in the blank).
We beg and we bargain with God to take away the pain so our certain and sure footing can be restored.
But we’ve completely missed the point.
A belief system based on certainty doesn’t really require any faith at all! If we have everything figured out if we have all the answers, what do we need faith for?
Faith and certainty aren’t intended to mix as we so often do with them in Christian circles. Faith is awe and mystery, questioning and wondering, room to breathe and room for the unknown. Faith is a belief in the absence of certainty. That is true faith. That is true dependence on God.
Before I came out as gay, I thought I had most of the answers. I’d admit I didn’t know everything, but I was pretty comfortable inside my box and the box I had put God in. Stepping out into my true identity and embracing myself for who God made me to be, now that required faith. I knew coming out could have a price tag. I knew it would be questioned by my family and peers. I knew it could potentially cost me everything. But I wasn’t prepared for the fact that it actually would.
Losing absolutely everything (my family, my relatives, my friend, my church, my hometown) required faith unlike anything I’d ever known. I was completely and utterly dependent on God to survive, to pull me through, and to provide for me. I had nothing. I lost it all in the face of authenticity. Suddenly, I didn’t have it all as together as I thought.
Not having it all together, not having all the answers, not knowing what the future held, yet taking each step forward as God asked it of me, took more faith than anything I’d ever faced before.
People sometimes ask me, “How do you know with 100% certainty that God approves of your sexuality and marriage to your wife,” and I say, “I don’t. Not any more than you are 100% certain that God approves of your sexuality (gay or straight) and your marriage to your wife/husband.” I’m relying on faith. True faith that leads me to complete reliance on the fact that God is loving and good, and He doesn’t make mistakes. And faith in the belief that good trees produce good fruits and that is what I am seeing in my life today.
I would never return to the life of certainty I once led, even though it was far more comfortable. Faith may require discomfort and being stretched outside my box, but it has also led me to a much deeper, richer, and more fulfilling life. I am more happy, more free, and more complete now than I’ve ever been because I choose daily to let go of certainty, and walk and live in faith.
Will you join me?
Amber Cantorna is a national speaker and the author of Refocusing My Family: Coming Out, Being Cast Out, and Discovering the True Love of God. She passionate about coaching, teaching, and sharing stories of hope and love across the country, and she blogs at AmberCantorna.com.