Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Faith Experiment Update, Part I: Recap

Posted, deleted, and reposted. It's hard to be real.

A little over two years ago, I set out on a journey - one I intended to document on this blog. Today, I'm surprised to learn that there are still a handful of folks reading my infrequent posts and some even visiting for the first time. For those in the latter category, I always hear the same questions:
  1. Who are you and what's up with this blog? Why do you write here?
  2. Are you a Christian or what?
In the spirit of renewing my own personal commitment to post here more frequently, I thought I'd start by revisiting why I started this blog in the first place.

In May of 2009, I quit my high-powered corporate job without having anything else lined up. Having reached the ranks of an executive position at a time when the economy was tanking, I was privy to many unpleasant conversations - all involving how to make more money and usually involved exploiting the poor and under-educated. These conversations wore me thin over a period of just a few months. I reached a point where I became completely jaded. No, I was disgusted. I high-tailed it out of there and sought an experience that would help restore my faith in human kind. A month later I traveled to Africa, where I would have a life-changing experience building friendships with the Batwa of Burundi.

While the storm of my career ambiguity stirred into a rage, I was also nearing the end of a 7 year relationship with a man I loved very much. We were best friends, hands down. But we were terrible partners. 7 years weighs heavily on someone who has always just wanted to be married. We tried everything but could never agree on an "appropriate" level of commitment. So, gut wrenched and heartbroken, I left. I moved out exactly two years ago, and was living in transitional environments with family and friends until just a few months ago.

So, in 2009 I quit my job, left the safety and comfort of my home and my relationship, had my values and lifestyle challenged while getting to know the poorest of the poor in Africa, and on top of it all my 18-year old cat died in the midst of everything. To say change is "hard" would be a massive understatement. Change fucking sucks.

But two years ago I was bursting with faith and hope. Having been raised in the Christian tradition, my faith in God and the teachings of Jesus flared brightly. I clung intently to the promise of a better life - a better job, a man who could love me the way I deserve, a safe and secure home, butterflies and cartoon birdies helping me with the laundry, dogs and cats living together, world peace, and...well, you get the point. I believed, whole-heartedly, that all these decisions would land me in a place where everything was picture-perfect and I was genuinely happy. And, at the time, I felt that it was my calling to share the experience with others who may be too afraid to take the risk - the leap of faith, if you will - that I had embarked on so that I could prove to the world that the promise was real. I set out to prove that we don't have to settle for less - that true happiness and living with passion and purpose actually exists.

I wasn't completely delusional, mind you. I also understood that reaching that destination required some major - and guaranteed painful - transformation. Knowing that, I decided the only way this blog was going to work towards my goal of making everyone happier, I had to be completely real. I had to expose even the darkest aspects of my journey and inner turmoil. Why have I shared some deeply personal experiences and insights on this blog? Because I felt it was necessary to (a) build credibility and (b) hold myself accountable to the journey.

So, why did I start this blog? Because I felt called to do so to bring faith and hope into the lives of people who may have lost heart. Without going into too much detail just yet, however, I can't say I see it as having the same perspective and purpose today. The outcome thus far is quite a bit different than what I had originally hypothesized. But, ultimately, this is a good thing.

So why am I still writing here? Because we all experience grief and loss and transition and existential crises at some point in our life, and I'm still very much in the midst of these things. I write about my journey because I process externally anyway, and as long as I'm doing that maybe someone else will be able to identify with my experiences. Who knows, maybe putting this out there might actually help someone?

As for the second question, "Are you a Christian", well - I kind of cringe at that one and there is not a simple answer. It's really a whole other story…so stay tuned.