“When we are confronted with the difficult questions life brings, we are left to wonder. The easy answers don’t work anymore, and we struggle to understand. We are forced to move from knowing to unknowing. These are times when we clearly see what we don’t know, doubt descends on us, and we ask questions that simply cannot be answered. And this is fertile soil for our changing faith to grow.
For a long time I did not think I should doubt, and I did all I could to keep it at bay. These days I am learning to no longer lock the door on it but welcome it in like an old friend. Doubt is not the enemy of faith but is essential to it. Doubt is the thing that comes along when we see how little we know. It is the feeling we get in our bones when what we have thought, assumed or believed all along no longer seems right, good or true.
We should not run from these times but run to them. These experiences have so much to teach us.”
-Michael Hidalgo, Changing Faith
I used to think having a strong faith meant having all the answers. That having questions – deep ones that aren’t satisfied with pat answers – was wrong. That they would lead me “off-track” and I needed to guard against them.
But what I have come to know is that it is those very questions that, when acknowledged and given voice inside of me, have drawn me deeper in my faith in and relationship with a God who does not fit into our neat and safe little boxes.
For many years now I have felt like I have just been going through the motions with a faith that used to be so vibrant within me… that is, until life happened and deep wounds of disappointment, discouragement, and distrust were forged within my heart. And when these crises of faith hit you in the midst of having multiple little children to parent, it is hard to give yourself the freedom (and hard to stay awake or focused long enough, frankly) to explore these feelings.
Finally, this past year has been a time of getting more in touch with that inner voice of mine.
I am so thankful for the people/books/voices that have found their way into my path over these past months with whom I have been able to resonate deeply. Who have made me feel like I am not alone, I am not crazy. And hey, I may not even be backsliding. For the first time in a long time, I feel hope. I feel like I am going somewhere. That there is a process (dare I even call it growth??) happening within me and that it is ok. I am ok. Even without the black & white boxes.
I am learning to love and embrace the mystery and complexities of faith and God and being human.
In the past, my vigorous efforts to smash myself into the black & white boxes and get it all “right” did not lead me to love or joy or peace or patience or kindness. Instead, it left me in a place of exhaustion, depression, and cynicism. I never left my faith foundation but have begun to question many of its outworkings and “trappings”. I’m not ok with just going through the motions anymore. My heart yearns for a deeper expression of my faith, something more authentic to myself and who I was uniquely created to be.
I’m taking it slow. Lots of days, this can feel pretty uncomfortable for someone who had become accustomed to expressing faith through checking all the boxes. But I guess you could say I’m getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Risking trust again, but in a way that feels so much more deeply personal.
And honestly, I am finding God again in new and interesting places. Feeling more alive than I have in a long time. Allowing myself time. Space. Resting. Reading. Listening. Talking. Finding people on similar journeys. Asking questions. And making peace with the questions… honoring them, inviting them in, to sit and be heard without feeling the need to jump to easy fixes and answers.
The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. -Anne Lamott