I never thought that I would be sitting in the office of a Catholic priest, and yet, yesterday, that's exactly where I was.
I had lunch with Future Priest and then had an appointment that he made for me with Priest. We spoke for close to an hour. He did most of the talking because he had a lot to say, but he did give me a chance to ask questions and comment, as well as articulate the problem. I gave him my I-Don't-Think-God-Loves-Us spiel and he gave me the free will argument. I brought up the tsunami and said that God could have stopped that without hindering anyone's free will, and he said that the world operates by natural law and that God didn't cause that directly. I said that people say that God doesn't intervene in our lives so as not to undermine free will, but in the Bible, He did it all the time, and he said that God does intervene and pointed to the giant crucifix on the wall behind him. He gave me all the right Christian answers but whenever he mentioned Christ dying for our sins, I had to refrain myself from asking, "But Father, how do I know that?" I decided that the most respectful thing to do would be to ask him all the questions I had as a Christian rather than bring up the doubts I have about Christianity as a whole. I wanted to ask him how I can believe those things again, but I decided to be realistic. No one else can tell you how to believe.
The most helpful thing that he said was about St. Thomas and how he doubted and struggled until Christ appeared to him after the Resurrection. He said that Thomas then had a more significant experience than the other eleven disciples. He said, "Jesus died to save us from our sins, not from our minds," and that it is a good thing that I'm questioning. Just before I left, I told him that I don't have those loving, trusting feelings towards God anymore. How do I get them back? He took that to mean that I felt God had deserted me, and he said, "He has already begun to come back. God is working in your life right now. Do you know how?" I shook my head and he gestured towards the door, to the outside room where Future Priest was sitting and waiting for me. He said that God is using him as my friend, giving him concern for me, and that it can be reciprocated, that God can use me as his friend as well. I thought about how fit I am to be used for anything right now, laughed and said, "Not any time soon," but he looked at me and said, "Don't be so sure."
I had dinner with Boyfriend and Boyfriend's Friend, who is only in town this week and who I had just met. She was very nice. Over dinner, religion briefly came up and she said that she considers herself "spiritual." Boyfriend asked me how I would describe myself and I said, "Confused."
After dinner, coffee, and Boyfriend's departure, B.F. and I talked for a while. Her father is Jewish and her mother is Catholic, and she said that she has found that people who have been raised in very religious homes (in the Evangelical tradition, for example) tend to be a little lost at our age because they don't know what to believe. I told her about my visit with Priest and we talked about the merits of Catholicism for a while. She suggested I get a catechism book, then added, "But that [Catholicism] might not be for you either, and that's okay."