Doubt

believe

 

I waited so long to write this because I wanted to be able to write it in the past tense.

I wanted to come to you with an inspirational story of how I struggled with my doubts and overcame. I wanted to tell you how I am a better person because of it, stronger and more sure of myself than ever.

One of the hardest things is to admit, present participle tense, that we are right in the middle of the struggle.

I am doubting.

I am searching.

Now I know that a lot of people who care about me quite a lot are regular readers, so I will be quick to clarify that I am not having a breakdown or losing my faith. But I think I am in what Christians politely refer to as “a dry spell.”

In Michael Gungor’s book, The Crowd, the Critic, and the Muse, he talks about three kinds of faith:

1. Professed Belief
2. Felt Belief
3. Lived Belief

When all three line up, Christianity becomes a vibrant, powerful, living reality in a person’s life. This is the kind of faith that shapes nations and heals old wounds and scales insurmountable barriers. It’s beautiful and irresistible.

But when any of these aspects of belief break down, we suffer for it.

Sometimes we will profess belief in all the Christian doctrines, live with typically Christian morality, and yet feel nothing more strongly than a vague sense of thankfulness.

Some of us may feel very strongly our need for a Savior, we may even profess a belief in Him, but then we live as if He made no difference in the “real” world of living and working and interacting with each other.

Or maybe some of us will feel that God exists and that He is good, but we can’t understand Who He Is or why He allows what He allows, and it becomes hard to profess the beliefs that we once found so natural.

We can go on living with doubt, sometimes without ever acknowledging that we have begun to doubt at all. Sometimes doubt is subtle and quiet.

Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes doubt is loud and painful. 

But, loud or quiet, I’ve realized that doubt is always based on emotion. It’s a reflection of our humanity, not an indicator that God has somehow been weakened. 

There are times when I feel distant from my beliefs, like the person who wrote about trust with so much confidence just a few months ago was someone other than me. And then I’m tempted to hate myself for having doubts. Or I try to force feelings that I don’t have through sheer will power. 

But when I do that, I’m putting my faith in my own intellect and my own feelings. If I truly believe in a Sovereign God, then I have to believe in a Truth that is transcendent. A Truth that is greater than whether or not on a given day I feel that it is true. 

Ten years ago, I made a commitment that I would follow Jesus, that I would trust Him above all else, including myself. So sometimes my faith looks like sticking to that promise even when the feelings aren’t there, trusting that in time the feelings will return. And knowing that even if they never do, I will trust Him still. 

Some days my faith is just the prayer, “I believe, help my unbelief.” 

We’re so quick to label doubt as the enemy of faith, but maybe the way we act in doubt is proof that our faith is real. 

Because it’s not admitting that you have doubts that will get in the way of your faith. It’s claiming a belief while living as if you don’t believe it that will destroy your faith in the end. 

3 thoughts on “Doubt

  1. I loved that, I have those same feelings as well :), at least I know I am not alone in this internal fight and struggle. Doubt is something I think drives each and everyone of us to look for Christ; if there were no doubt, we would have no drive, therefore no need to reach out to others or to Christ.

    Thanks Beth…

    Cheers,
    Tim.

    • Thank you Tim! It is good to be reminded that doubt isn’t an experience that is unique to me. And I agree that doubt can drive us to be more understanding and compassionate towards others and in some ways even enrich our understanding of who Christ is.

  2. In fact, the existence of doubt makes my faith a choice. Walking by faith – walking in a way not because we see clearly, but because we choose it despite not being able to see everything. Not by sight.
    I have read and re-read Til We Have Faces, by CS Lewis. Magnificent metaphor for our sightlessness and God’s Other-ness. I highly recommend it.

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