What I've Learned About Doubt
There's a Bible passage that won't leave me. It's the Apostle Paul talking to the Corinthians and this is what he says,
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. - 1st Corinthians 1:20-21
This Christ following thing is foolish. This Christ following thing should make us skeptical. We don't have proof of a God. We don't have any certainty. That used to scare me. Now it's the reason I believe. Here's why.
Doubt is the Beginning, Not the End
I've heard time and again the same story. "I can't go to church because I don't think I believe the way I used to believe. In fact, I don't think I believe in God."
We end right there, right before we get to the good stuff. Somewhere in our lives we believed that we had to be certain. Let's lose that ugly lie.
I like to say that our doubt allows us to finally get moving on our spiritual journey. No longer to we have this need to be right. We listen to those with different viewpoints rather than prepare a counter argument. We are more willing to ask questions without fear. We become interested in exploring the context of our scriptures rather than taking them at face value. Our doubt is the beginning. If you're doubting then jump into church and let the journey begin. God is speaking in your doubt.
Our Doubt Makes us Less Reliant on Information
We often doubt because the Bible is contradictory and gives inaccurate information. It's okay. We've been taught that the process of taking in information and receiving information is the only real currency in our lives. We spend a large chunk of our childhood learning strategies for taking in and receiving information. Most of us get paid for giving and receiving information quickly and accurately.
But here's the thing. The Bible is made up of really great stories, songs, and poems written by people who were trying to convey the awesomeness of God. Very rarely does it work to provide us with information. The Bible is filled with amazing poetry (Psalms, Song of Songs), an epic story (Genesis), some great music, (Deuteronomy), and even a collection of ancient tweets (Proverbs). When doubt comes we release ourselves from collecting information and give ourselves permission to read scripture the way it was intended, through beauty and artistry. You wouldn't read Shakespeare, Bob Dylan, or Maya Angelou to get information. Then why read parts of the Bible that way? God is speaking through these stories, poems, and the rest. Let doubt take you there.
Our Doubt Allows us to See God in Surprising Places
When I'm doubting it's usually because I've put God in a box. I say that God can only show up in church, with church friends, in a church related book, or a worship song. Then when I don't "feel" anything, which will sometimes happen, I wonder if there was ever a God to begin with.
My doubt has allowed me to find God in other places. I remove the box. In the past year I have seen the fingerprints of God on the Subway, in great movies (Selma), while riding my bike in Colorado, while riding my bike over the Brooklyn Bridge. I believe in God because of all of the laughing I've done. God is in the stories of the people I meet. I see God in street fairs, my children, and in a dislocated pinky finger (It's a long story. Feel free to ask about it.) Doubt allows us to look outside of the box. God is speaking to us in surprising ways. Get creative and go take a look.
We will always have doubt. After all, this whole Christ following thing is foolishness. Just ask Paul. Our doubt will come in and go out like the tides. I promise. And yes, there is plenty of time to debate the existence of God. It's a good thing to do. But our doubt is not the end. It's a new beginning. It takes us to new places, in surprising ways where God is truly doing more than we could ever ask or imagine.
What are you waiting for? Let's go.