THE Doubt SIDE OF MY FAITH

Activated - - NEWS - By Jessie Richards JESSIE RICHARDS HAD A ROLE IN THE PRO­DUC­TION OF AC­TI­VATED FROM 2001 TO 2012, AND HAS WRIT­TEN A NUM­BER OF AR­TI­CLES AS AN AC­TI­VATED STAFF WRITER. SHE HAS ALSO WRIT­TEN AND EDITED MA­TE­RIAL FOR OTHER CHRIS­TIAN PUB­LI­CA­TIONS AND WEB­SITES.

I GREW UP THINK­ING THAT “FAITH” AND “DOUBT” WERE OP­PO­SITES. Faith was good. Doubt was bad. With that mind­set even ques­tions could be dan­ger­ous, as I fig­ured they could lead to doubt. For an in­tel­lec­tu­ally cu­ri­ous per­son, that is a dif­fi­cult thing to deal with, and I strug­gled with it for most of my re­mem­ber­able life. The ques­tions I used to re­sist ranged from won­der­ing whether God re­ally cared that much about X or Y spe­cific rule men­tioned in the Bi­ble, some­times vaguely or heav­ily in­ter­preted, to that large and ever-present ques­tion: Does God ex­ist?

At one point, I had what seemed to me a rev­e­la­tion, and which I have since learned to be some­thing many peo­ple of faith agree on: Doubt is not the en­emy of faith, but can in fact make it stronger. An­swers need ques­tions as much as ques­tions need an­swers.

The way I see it, when you are a per­son of faith and you ques­tion your faith, one of two things hap­pens: ei­ther you lose said faith—in which case it was prob­a­bly not real or strong enough to be­gin with—or, you find that de­spite the in­ner strug­gles, de­spite the sad­ness, de­spite the un­ex­plain­able or unan­swer­able, your faith re­mains. The lat­ter is what hap­pened to me when I let my­self ex­plore my doubts.

I of­ten find my­self frus­trated at the need many of us of­ten have to make things “ei­ther/or” and to put ev­ery­thing in a box, from eth­nic­i­ties to re­li­gions to God Him­self. We feel the need for a con­clu­sive an­swer. Right or wrong. Black or white. Faith or rea­son. Science or God. I think there are very few things in life that are so sim­ple. I also think the whole point of God and faith is that it is some­thing be­yond our “boxes” and some­thing we can­not be con­clu­sive about.

In the end, what we are left with is a choice of faith. I choose to have faith, to be­lieve that there is a God, and that be­ing con­nected to His Higher Power makes me a bet­ter hu­man be­ing. Want­ing to be the best per­son I am ca­pa­ble of be­ing is in it­self enough rea­son for faith. My faith may not be “tra­di­tional,” and some­times I miss that sense of sim­plis­tic con­fi­dence that I used to have. In its place, how­ever, I have in­stead gained aware­ness, hu­mil­ity, and open­ness that I hope will never go away. I'm hun­gry

to learn, be­cause I know that there is so much I do not know.

It fol­lows that if there is a God, and if the Bi­ble is His Word, then the two things that He has said mat­ter most are: Love God and love your neigh­bor. Those are things that I should do, can do, and will do. Fol­low­ing the pri­mary com­mand­ments and be­ing lov­ing and kind, tol­er­ant and for­giv­ing to­ward one an­other—as fel­low hu­man be­ings, made in God's im­age, each of in­trin­sic and im­mea­sur­able worth—is of much greater sig­nif­i­cance to me than try­ing to fig­ure out what opin­ions and pref­er­ences God might have re­gard­ing spe­cific things about my life­style and per­sonal choices, or those of my loved ones, or of hu­man­ity in gen­eral.

Over break­fast one morn­ing, I was read­ing He­brews 11, “the faith chapter,” and came to verse 6: “With­out faith it is im­pos­si­ble to please Him, for he who comes to God must be­lieve that He is, and that He is a re­warder of those who dili­gently seek Him.”

I used to see that verse as say­ing that “if you doubt, you dis­please God.” Now I read it quite dif­fer­ently. There are only two things it says I need to do in or­der to have faith and please God: 1) Be­lieve that He is, and 2) be­lieve that He re­wards those who “dili­gently seek Him.” I be­lieve that He is, and I have dili­gently sought Him— the ques­tions and doubts were a nec­es­sary part of that “dili­gent seek­ing.” I have found peace in know­ing that I'll never have all the an­swers, and that's okay. That's a part of faith. Great­est of all, He re­wards me with His pres­ence. I know there's no way of ex­plain­ing that to some­one who doesn't have faith, but I know that I know Him, and that know­ing Him is pure joy.

While I can't say that my faith is stronger than be­fore I started on my jour­ney of doubt, I can say this: I have thrown ev­ery doubt at my faith, and my faith is still here.

To seek truth re­quires one to ask the right ques­tions. Those void of truth never ask about any­thing be­cause their ego and ar­ro­gance pre­vent them from do­ing so. There­fore, they will al­ways re­main ig­no­rant. Those on the right path to Truth are ex­tremely heart-driven and child­like in their quest, al­ways ask­ing ques­tions, al­ways want­ing to un­der­stand and know ev­ery­thing—and are not afraid to ad­mit they don’t know some­thing. How­ever, ev­ery truth seeker does need to break­down their ego first to see Truth. If the mind is in the way, the heart won’t see any­thing.— Suzy Kassem (b. 1975)

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