This is a comment left by a reader (see here). Below is a copy of the comment, as well as my response.
I walked away from the Lord for about 5 years after getting my pastoral License and being in intense ministry at a young age. The church politics gave me a very bad taste in my mouth and I decided that I didn't want to be a part anymore. Those 5 years were filled with events- but the thing that I regret the most- was walking away from the Lord's love and intimacy. Life's not perfect- because of sin. But God's love is always there...comforting. Life without the feeling that God is there- sucks. I will pray for you. Pray that the Holy Spirit will not leave you alone- That the presence of God will keep you up at night...that God's love will surround. That you will not be able to run from God's spirit. I gave my heart back to the Lord- and there is absolutely NO COMPARRISON. My GOD is real.
Thank you for your story and for your words of encouragement. I must say up front that I have a great deal of respect for anyone who has seriously struggled with their faith, irrespective of whether their faith was lost or strengthened as a result. I definitely know how you feel, Kirsten, to struggle with faith, but I also believe that struggling with our beliefs is what makes our final choices regarding those beliefs all the more valuable and precious at the end of the day.
However, I must admit that although I used to feel feelings of guilt over rejecting God’s love and intimacy during my faith struggle, I don’t anymore. Some Christians might hold the view that I, an atheist, lay awake at night, wondering with some degree of angst if there is any meaning to life, and if there is anything “more” out there. But, strangely enough, I don’t. After much thinking, I’ve come to a place of peace regarding my beliefs about God and my place in this universe. I still ponder meaning and mystery, but I’m not in a hurry to find answers.
I think it was M. Scott Peck, in his book, The Road Less Travelled, who suggests that when we are six months old or younger, we instinctively believe that we are omnipotent. At that age we are unable to tell the difference between ourselves and the world around us. One of the most painful journeys of life is coming to the realisation that this world is indeed a separate thing from us, that we are not omnipotent, and that there are things in this world that we cannot control. For myself, it felt as if I made an additional step in this direction by realising that there is no supernatural being looking after my interests, that this life is all that there is. I’m not arguing whether the step was right or wrong, or whether there is a God or not. I’m just saying that once I made this step, I felt no desire to adopt a theistic belief any longer. For me life goes on as usual, even though it is a life without God.
Thank you for your prayers. I hope that your faith will grow, Kirsten, and I wish you luck in the ministry and in your spiritual journey.
All the best