Doubt is real.
We’ve done a better job at creating space for people to ask difficult questions and wrestle with their faith, to wrestle with God. When people can be authentic, doubt doesn’t seem to be far behind. It’s unfortunate but that’s what I’m realizing.
The number of people in our congregation that received a faith tradition that doesn’t hold water in the real world is not small. As many of us have faced reality, our faith has shaken, our faith has wavered, and for some, our faith has crumbled.
Sometimes the old must come down before the new can be rebuilt. It’s scary and exposing. To peel back that last layer of belief, not knowing if you’ll find anything on the other side of it…Is there a more vulnerable time in life?
And yet, this is what I find myself creating space for people to do. I’m walking alongside people as they allow doubt to go all the way down and I’m hoping to God that they do, in fact, find God at the bottom or maybe that God will find them.
As a minister, this has been my approach to helping others through doubt.
And then doubt finds me.
I look around me and see people, not just one or two but many people, struggling. I see people in pain, fearfully goading themselves out of bed each morning, wondering what the point is because it certainly isn’t what they were taught. If not that, then what?
Their pain causes me to doubt my approach to doubt.
Am I creating space for people to authentically wrestle with their faith? Or am I provoking and instigating unnecessary suffering?
I don’t know. I wonder.
C.S. Lewis engages this question in his masterful work, Till We Have Faces. If you haven’t, read it.
“And for all I can tell, the only difference is that what many see we call a real thing, and what only one sees we call a dream. But things that many see may have no taste or moment in them at all, and things that are shown only to one may be spears and water-spouts of truth from the very depth of truth.”
Is it better to pull back the veil of a loved one and show them reality as it is which will inevitably lead to disillusionment and pain? Or is it better to allow them to remain in their state of blissful oblivion?
I don’t know. I wonder.
Often with blogs or articles like this, the author will take their reader on a journey through a difficult question and lead them to a peaceful and happy resolution. Maybe I’ll be able to do that in the future but I cannot right now because…
I just don’t know. I hope time will give wisdom.
Until then, may we as ministers of God be faithful to our own journeys of faith, doubt, and in the midst of it all, pastorally caring for those around us. May the people in our care be faithful to their own journeys. And may the God of ultimate care find us in our weakness and unknowing.