We all lose things. We all have to let go. Small things like the fleeting expressions on your tongue when that sushi slides down your throat. But also bigger things, like your new shiny phone that drops on the floor and cracks all over.
Sometimes though, it gets huge, and we desperately want to hold on. Ever seen the response of parents to the news that a child has died? Chances are you will hear “no, no, no, no” for a long time. Such big news takes a time to process…
I have had the same type of loss. And it took me years to process the news. Five long years of saying “no, no, no, it can’t be true” to myself. Who did I lose?
It was a friend so close to me, so deep in my heart, we were like BFF, Best Friends Forever. Literally. Forever. He moved with me wherever I went. He taught me the value of life, introduced me to all his other friends, and basically shaped my entire existence from early childhood on. We went out on adventures together, hooked up with others, and I became fascinated by him. I learned a lot about him, and dedicated my life to let others become friends with him as well. I even married one of his female friends. You know, he was very generous with his time, and could have as many friends as he wanted. Poly-amorous is an understatement.
But my friend was no ordinary friend. You couldn’t just walk up to him and have a conversation. He would always be around, but he just never spoke back audibly. But that was okay, because he was speaking to my other friends as well and they would convey his purposes with me.
Questions That Demand an Answer
That was all great, until you get questions that demand an answer. “Hey, are you coming next week to my work? I want to show you something”. No answer. “Can you help my friend?” No answer. Sometimes it appeared he did come and help, other times it did not.
At some point I had to start doubting my friendship with him. It wasn’t that he couldn’t speak. It wasn’t that he couldn’t act. He could do absolutely anything. He just refused to do it. I realized that in fact, I had never really seen him. None of my senses actually ever registered him. Everybody talks about him, he is at the core of my being, but he is utterly silent when asked direct, tough and honest questions.
But I held on. We have shared so many things together! I gather with other people every week to discuss and celebrate our friendship with him (polyamorous, remember?) and even sing songs for him. It all felt so real, our friendship. So real, so almost tangible. Part of the mystery of the friendship, I told myself.
The past five years I have started to realize more and more that my BFF was a strange friend indeed. I dedicated my life to him. But while he was fully able to, he just refused to ever show up. He never came to a date. Never gave any real answer to my questions. He would not taunt me either; he was just utterly… not there.
I just could not accept this conclusion. I fought it, with all my might. I even tried to make a pact: gave him a year to show up and tell me he is there. Not even personally, but just through a friend, through a secret message. Just give me a signal that we are still friends; that was all. He never did. I extended the deadline. It didn’t work.
It was starting to drive me nuts. I started to feel like someone with a multiple personality disorder: happy BFF with him in public, totally confused and denying on the inside. In the end I yelled at my BFF one last time to give a signal. Anything. I was met with a total silence. Not even a single hunch, vision or feeling.
My sincere questions were like a knife that had stabbed his heart. I had killed him. I have killed my best friend.
My world collapsed, and I had to let go.
Let It Go
As you probably have guessed, my BFF is Jesus. YHWH. The Triune God. Aslan. Elyon. The Rock of Ages. The Great I Am.
A few months ago I was forced to accept in my heart what my mind had discovered years before: Jesus is not the Truth, the Way and the Life. There are many things that made me doubt this, but the previous BFF story illustrates a key point of my doubts: while Jesus is supposed to have all the power in the universe, he utterly refuses to use it, even when it is most needed. He says he wants all people to know him, but then he completely hides himself. Even more, he will punish people for not accepting this hidden revelation. He claims to be good, yet supported slavery, mass-killings of innocent children and gave women fewer rights than men.
I know all of the rationalizations. I have lived with them my whole life. They were part of me. But at some point, enough is enough. I don’t want to enter a discussion right now of all the arguments pro- and versus Christianity. I just know that the “pro” list was getting alarmingly short for me, and the arguments sounded increasingly unconvincing. The “versus” list was solid, and growing fast. I rarely read any anti-Christian materials. I lost my faith while reading the Bible, and studying Gods mission for the world, in a Christian college, and later a Christian mission organisation.
Please don’t take this as an insult if you are BFF with Jesus. I know how it feels; you do this out of genuine love for the truth and others around you. It is just not my thing anymore. I have not left the faith because I was angry at God, living in deep sin, disappointed with the church, steeped in satanic rituals or because I lost my marbles. For me, it “simply” does not make sense anymore.
The last few months have been an interesting rollercoaster. It is like somebody pushed the reset button on my brain, and it has to rethink everything. Purpose in life. Work. Marriage. Raising kids. Relationships. Identity. Little topics like that. Normally you take your teens to think through that and perhaps you finally figured it out by the time you are 30 or so. For me, it is all over again.
The experience is absolutely unique and amazing. Daunting at first, but I now actually thoroughly enjoy it. The world has become a different place, full of opportunities, people, color, and my mind has become much more curious than it was ever before. Instead of having this ‘package deal’ worldview where everything was already figured out beforehand, where all I could do was reach the same conclusions with a little bit of wiggle room, I can now truly make up my own mind. I find it fascinating to meet new people, hear new ideas, and feel their wisdom and characters.
So Now What?
Practically, me and my family will go back in January to the Netherlands. For those of you that don’t know: I am working fulltime for a Christian organization in Thailand, so I will basically have to / want to quit that job. Other than that, I don’t have many plans. My wife is still a believer in God, we will have to see how we work that out (it’s not easy, I will say that much). I love to have an open future right now. Explore the possibilities. I don’t want to throw away any relationships that I have, but some have already been damaged by my radical shift. “Swayed by the devil”, some would say. “Tempted by sin”, others have said. Fortunately most people have responded well, and I’m not afraid to answer any questions. This is why I make this public news. I don’t want to hide this. I have too many friends and family to all call them one by one. I don’t like people to hear it from somebody else. A blast into the world seems more appropriate.
If you are deeply committed Christian and you read this, I just hope you are not offended and we can retain a positive relationship. I have not lost my quest for the Truth, which is also what you are ultimately after. If you are not a (deeply committed) Christian, I hope it gave you some insight into how a ‘serious’ religious worldview works, and how it has affected me. I honestly believed I did the right thing by holding on to Jesus. Either way, I hope we can all treat each other like equal human beings, and see that a person is much more than their religious beliefs.
I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Just get in touch! Fill in the comments below, or reach me on Facebook, email, phone, etc.