I think every person who has ever believed in something has had times of doubt. Every person has asked, “Is that really true?” or “How can I know for sure?” Every person who has ever loved someone has doubted that their love will be returned. Every person who has backed a cause has wondered if they are really going to make a difference. Every person who has flown in an airplane has thought, “I’m really not sure how this thing actually flies.”
Every person who believes in God has questioned whether that God is really there.
The Christian culture has responded to this doubt by heralding a seemingly oil and water mixture of faith in a God that cannot be seen and certainty in one’s personal salvation experience. Doubt then becomes either a failure of faith or a failure of certainty. It’s a somewhat paradoxical dilemma that in the end doesn’t fix what doubt remains. The truth is, wherever there is faith, doubt is close by and wherever there is certainly, doubt is always around the corner.
If you are a person of faith, as I am or at least try to be, what are we suppose to do with our doubts? Doubt is common to everyone (some of the greatest saints of Christianity experienced doubt) and yet there is no greater time of loneliness than in a time of doubt.
As I have reflected over the last few years in my life, I would have to call this stage in my journey a doubt journey. Many of the things I thought I knew about myself and what I felt I was supposed to be doing we’re taken away and the waters of doubt flooded in to replace them. My profession, my sense of calling, my sense of worth, my sense of status, my friendships,my intellectual pursuits, my creative outlet, my free time, my future goals, my status quo- gone. And in their place doubt grew. For me, all those things (profession, calling, worth, ect.) were tied up in the God that I was supposed to have faith and certainty in and if they were gone, was God gone too?
We need to be free and honest enough to tell our journeys of doubt just like we tell our journeys of faith.
The last six months of 2012 and the first half of 2013 were a blur of depression, never ending job applications, disappointment, stress and emotional and spiritual numbness. Not just for me but for my family as well. The result of all that led to some dark and destructive behavior as some vain attempt to have an illusion of control in time of great uncertainty.
I don’t say all of that because I’m the only person who has ever gone through tough times or as some kind of excuse but because doubt, just like faith, doesn’t occur in a vacuum, there is a journey of doubt. We need to be free and honest enough to tell our journeys of doubt just like we tell our journeys of faith.
2015 will be my year of doubts. I haven’t lost my faith. I’m not leaving Christianity or the Church/ church. I’m not even somehow testing the claims of God, Jesus and the Bible. What I am doing is being open about my doubt-what I don’t know, what I don’t understand, what I cannot explain and what questions I have.
My hope is that as I address the doubt that washed away aspects of my faith, then that faith will have a place to return. I hope and pray that you would join me in this journey of doubt. Experiencing doubt is lonely but as we’ve said, everyone experiences it. Let’s take the journey together and pray we’ll find a greater faith on the other side.