The Fear of Losing God

"Let Go and Let God Go" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Let Go and Let God Go” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Now I know some people are going to leap to the comfortable conclusion that this proves I’m an atheist, as they’ve always expected or wished. But please read what I have to say.

What I was passionate about as a pastor and now as an online community facilitator, is helping people to become spiritual independent. I love helping people explore, experiment with, and exercise their own spiritual autonomy.

I was talking with a friend yesterday who really misses the community we used to have at the last church I pastored and left in 2010. Indeed, it was remarkable! We experience the same kind of community online at The Lasting Supper. She asked me what the secret ingredient is.

I thought about it and said, “We have to allow people to be totally themselves, authentically them, at all times and always. We need to trust people to be able to help themselves. And when they’re given a safe place to do that in, I believe they will. When this value is shared by all the members… this value, NOT certain beliefs… this is what makes real community!”

Now, this also means letting people make their own decisions theologically. I remember the terror I felt when my ideas about God started to crumble. The most terrifying moment for me, many years ago now, was when I realized my theological thinking, including my thinking about God, was a protective coping mechanism based in fear. When I knew I had to start letting my “God” go… I was absolutely terrified. When I saw that my thoughts about God were not God, fear set in.

It’s like holding on to a carved idol (because that’s what it is) and realizing you have to drop that idol without the guarantee that there is a reality beyond it. That’s right. There is no guarantee!

But I had to do it if I wanted to know the truth. Whatever that is.

I can’t promise you what you will find. I will not guarantee you won’t become an agnostic or an unbeliever or an atheist, or even a stronger believer. This is for you to discover. But I can promise you this (because I’ve seen so many people do it): when you finally find the confidence and whatever else it takes to become spiritually independent, the fear dissipates. It will finally all make sense, and you will find the peace of mind that has always eluded you.


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17 Responses

  1. Sabio Lantz says:

    Maybe “Let god(s) Go” would be further reaching. All of them. For there isn’t one to let go of, but all the gods in our heads that we weave together to make one.

    Speaking of your friends and your conversation about community. The only problem with on-line community is that they are self-deceptive. We feel connected, but none of your friends in the community will drive over when you are sick, join your for an outing, help you out physically when you need it. Something precious about local friends. Not to downplay virtual friends. Both can give one a false security but on-line buddies, while fun and supportive intellectually, unplug too easily.

  2. Sabio: Interesting, but I don’t really compare the two. Sure, having local friends has its benefits. But so does online friends. As I went through a recent crisis, I found my online friends very responsive and supportive. In fact, the members of TLS really helped me through it and supported me in ways that local people could not. But then, Lisa and I spent some time with local people lately who provided their own support in their own way. So… they are apples and oranges for me. I appreciate both.

  3. Sabio Lantz says:

    Right, I agree. Both can have very different functions.
    The on-line options allows us to connect to those of similar spirits who are otherwise very hard to find. While local can give logistic and physical comfort.

  4. although i did receive logistic and physical support from online friends too… ya… i appreciate both even though they are very different… in a way… the same but different

  5. Kent Lindsay says:

    Sounds like Jesus Himself in our midst, taking up one’s “cross” and following Him/Her by simply being vulnerable open and honest with one’s self others and God without accusation ?❤️

  6. maura hart says:

    of course i immediately thought atheist. and then i thought well, since historically the world over god has such a great reputation of answering prayer, solving world hunger, an end to war or rape…..either god made a clean get a way centuries ago or he just isn’t real. like santa. give it up

  7. terri jo says:

    If I let God go, I would be in trouble….. GOD Great Outdoors. GOD Good Orderly Direction. My GOD, the crow. I unthawed for the last time, Victoria day, 1998. As I finally put down the mind and mood altering drugs including alcohol back then, I was not depressed and suicidal, no, I was more homicidal. All memories of suppressed trauma and the gross adventures of an addictive life came to the forefront of my mind, and it was overwhelming. I was so infuriated with all that had transpired since my early days as an “innocent” child. Innocence stripped, confidence under-developed, broken trust, lousy coping, and a family also emotionally stunted. I started nursing school, newly clean, broken, emotional, enraged, but a great actress, so most folks just saw me as a people-pleasing smiler, desperate to make the top marks in class to prove to myself and others I was alright. “Outside looking good”.
    I remember transferring buses from the eastside to the No. 3 Main bus stop up to Langara College. The transfer point is in the midst of the worst drug and disease infested areas in North America. It was my “playground” for a few years. I would wait for my bus, and be so triggered by the drug trades and the pain I saw in the addicts’ eyes. I could smell the filth, and see the litter and piles of garbage the addicts were peddling to pay for the next hit. I started to look up into the sky to escape the turmoil and chaos. I saw crows everywhere. Caw Caw Caw, they screeched from the streetlights and treetops. I learned to CAW myself, and for 4 years, the crows helped me through a very rough patch in my recovery from addiction. I love those birds and now I have some pet crows that visit my yard every day. I soak Cherrios in smoked oyster oil or canned salmon juice, and they CAW loudly as I huck their breakfast out the window. They are part of the Great Outdoors. The river beckons me with its quiet rush over the river rocks. The birch leaves flutter hypnotically in sync with the current of the wind. The little bugs trip along, gathering their grub and hauling it back to their underground home closeby. The clouds paint pictures and scenes for me to enjoy, and I imagine all sorts of stories in them and hear the quiet stillness of God’s voice. “No more suffering” “You are doing alright, keep helping” “Slow down, your body can’t keep up to your demands” “It isn’t how much you do, Terri Jo, that matters, it is who you are that counts”. Such sage advice from something outdside of myself….. I am unable to glean that insight and wisdom, so I know it is God. GOD (Good orderly direction) has also carved my recovery. Perseverance: dont give up. Open-mindedness: Every human being has their own values, beliefs, creeds, desires, and it is not my place to convince them otherwise, no to put them down for it. Strength in humility: making amends humbly when my ego gets the best of me. On and on……. Principles before personalities: If a leader behaves like a spoiled entitled brat, or if a leader favors some of the sheep more than the others, I watch closely. Leadership is all important, and I no longer waste my time serenity and energy on toxic groups. Haha unless the workplace becomes toxic, then I may have to suck it up for awhile. GOD, most important for me, no one else, just me.

  8. Maura: I think it’s fine to tell ourselves to just give it up. But I don’t think it helps others help themselves by telling others to just give it up. We each have to get there… our own unique destinations… on our own.

  9. grant says:

    “my thoughts about god were not god…” Pow! So little we can truly understand. So big is Everything – so small are we. Yet some things are universal and beyond theology. For example, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. If we set ouir minds and hearts on such things, might we discover “it is enough?” …

  10. “Let it go” Do you ever hear expressions in day to day life that you can not hear without bursting into a song that has the phrase in it. The movie “Frozen” did that with ‘Let it go’ (cursed movie) 🙂 Every time I hear this phrase, that song comes to my mind and unfortunately, for myself and others, my vocal chords. So I am a little off topic….but hopefully you can ‘Let it go’. 🙂

  11. Great final question Grant. Is it enough?

    calledtoquestion: My mind is famous for hearing background music to almost everything!

  12. More in line with this post…
    After the recent death of my mother, I have become more vocal on where I stand. You see my extended family holds to a very structured and rigid system of belief in God, this included my mother. Over the last few years my mother began to relate to my little family and I on a human level. She put aside her religiosity in order to re-establish a relationship with us, she became human in order to share our human experience. She desired peace within the family and while she knew I held my own opinions, I kept a low key as to expressing them to family out of a respect for her. She was the only bridge that connected myself to my siblings and father. When she died three weeks ago, that bridge collapsed and my extended family unleashed their religious fervour all the more. Now that my mom is gone I have felt a certain release where I can express who I am without hurting one so special to me. In being myself it seems that all fury has been unleashed. For some reason now that I share who I am, that I have let some things go, I am the trouble maker. I am the one causing ‘strife’ because I hold differing opinions. Just because I do not believe as they, I am the deviant one. My moms death was like the cork shooting forth from a shaken champagne bottle and the foam unleashing is the choas aftermath that my mom once held in place. It was bound to happen, for I have let some thing go that my family deems unthinkable to let go.

  13. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ Called2?
    Amazing sharing of a personal story, thanx
    I have seen that when people make talking about the god and right belief about their god so central (or even mildly important), this sort of ugliness is inevitable.

  14. grant says:

    When I think about the so-called fruits of the holy spirt, I begin to see God in many unexpected places. On a very significant level, isn’t it all about “getting along with one another?” True community based on the “nakedness” you present here. And this can only happen when grace abounds, otherwise there will only be divisiveness, factions, and fighting. Yes?…

    I suspect that Christ lives in and amongst us in so many mysterious ways that transcend our attempts to define and box in and label. Ten years ago I would have dismissed these words I’ve just written, as new age psycho-babble. But I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now. heh heh.

  15. @ Sabio Lantz
    Thank you for your thanks 🙂 You see even your online thanks has been a hug that has warmed my physical heart though we are worlds apart. 😉 But, yes I get what you are saying about that physical presence.

  16. Brigitte says:

    We cannot hold onto him, anyways, by our strength, but he holds us and holds everything together. Still, a faith has to have some content, and a nation has to have some laws and some consensus.

    “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.…” (Paul to the Colossians)

  17. grant says:

    I hope you’ll permit me to share this wonderful poetry and song inspired from that very passage. From Alana Levandiski’s album:
    Here’s a link to “2Christ Hymn.m4a” in my Dropbox: