I try not to disclaim too often, but I must be clear from the beginning that this post is for my (many) Christian friends who have wondered quietly about where my faith has gone over the last few years…I want to assure you that it has gone to a place of safety and by that I mean that I have placed it aside carefully for a short time.
I grew up in the bible belt of Canada. Let me explain with more accuracy. I grew up in the Left Ventricle of the Heart of the Bible Belt of Canada in Three Hills, Alberta in the 1980/90s. (I give honorable mentions to Caronport, Saskatchewan). For 7 of my 13 childhood schooling years, every conversation, every experience and every moment of my life in that town was bathed in the context of Christian culture. After those seven years I enrolled in a year of Bible College. And then I left.
I’ve always been concerned with truth. As a child I wanted to know ‘why’ and ‘how’ and ‘what’ and I wasn’t afraid to evaluate anything head on. In grade seven I spent days at the bible college library going over the creationist videos they had on file because I sensed this might be a controversial topic. No evolution videos were available and so my research was as comprehensive as it could be. At age 18 I was not so easily satisfied. I listened to hours of debates about (ridiculous) Christian theological sub-points that made no difference to anyone, anywhere. I began to question Christianity in general. I began to voice my questions and this irritated the people closest to me. But there was one man (an instructor) who must have overheard a conversation of mine because in class one day he looked straight at me (I am not mistaken) and said to me, “It’s good to ask questions. God is bigger than all your questions. In fact, think of the biggest question you can. He can handle it. You don’t scare him at all.” He even smiled as he said it, because that’s the kind of person he was. I have nothing but love for the memory of this old man. I left that year anyway and I’ve forgotten everything I learned, but I remember the permission he gave me to ask real questions.
When I went to university this time, I made a deal with myself. Although deep in my heart I believed strongly that God had orchestrated a million small details for this to come to pass for our family, I would not learn through a lens. I believed that God was bigger than fear, and bigger than dogma, and bigger than science. In other words, I had nothing to fear from science. It was my responsibility to learn science in this moment I had. ‘How things work’ is an important part of my future and I wasn’t interested in clouding truth with theological debates. God could comfortably maintain his place in the universe while I learned some basic facts.
And this is where I remain today. I have a few more years to go. Busy years. I’ve learned a lot. It’s no longer science debates that I avoid in my own head. Now it’s moral debates. Frankly, I don’t care if a homosexual, or a bisexual, or a prostitute or a young unwed mother, or a drunk person, or a first nations person or a white, married, Christian mother of 5 with asthma comes into my office. This is the great freedom a physician possesses. I have the privilege of seeing each person as a person of value. There is no scale of humanity. This is my true conviction, a conviction due to my faith, not despite it. And I embrace it.
I am not running from faith. I am not ashamed of faith. I believe my road here was miraculous. But I still have a lot to learn, and it’s important that I learn it all, because God is bigger than our questions and bigger than our fears. He’s really, really big. And we are all precious in his eyes.