“Doubt is a gift. It means the way you see God is fraying at the edges, and maybe it needed to.”
– Mike McHargue
I have often felt that one of the paradoxes of God is that in order to experience God we must simultaneously truly let go of every single image of God we have, to drop every ‘box’ we have put God in.
In essence, we must pray the prayer that the 15th century German mystic, Meister Eckhart prayed, “I pray God to rid you of God.” We must do this because all that we use to define God often comes from flawed and pained sources – mostly childhood ones for me. You see having an alcoholic father can make trust in God a difficult thing. I struggle with trusting God, trusting his love, fidelity. I do not struggle with believing in God’s love or power; I struggle with believing God desires to shed those qualities on me.
In A.A., the 3rd Step states that we must make a decision “to turn our will and the care of our lives over to God, as we understand Him.” The funny thing is that not only did I have an alcoholic father; I also am one in recovery. So what is hard is not actually the surrendering over to God all of my will and being and living my life for God; what the struggle is comes in the words “care.”
In order to surrender my life to God’s care, I must first trust that God indeed does care.
And I often doubt that one… that God does care.
I know, I know. How can I call myself a Jesus follower and doubt God’s care? How can I doubt that I am loved when all the cross Jesus hung upon says to me is love, love, love.
I see Jesus forgiving all sorts of untouchables and unlovables and yet I doubt with some regularity that God cares for me.
So, I pray often for God to “rid” me of God. I pray for God to remove from me all the idolatrous and graven images I have set up to be a poor substitute for him. My father, whom I love very much, is still a poor lens through which to view and experience God. My addiction is another poor choice; people in power and people with presumed power are also poor lens through which to experience God.
It is why I return again and again to Jesus. In him, I see all that I need to see of God; in Jesus I see love unfathomable, grace unlimited, and mercy unmitigated. It is why time and time again I go to Jesus when I am lost, scared, and most of all when I am in doubt. Jesus is God with flesh on. When I wonder how God would ‘act’ and what God would do or say to the situations and circumstances of my life (and the world), I return to the words of Jesus, to the life of Jesus to get Truth.
For in Jesus, I find all that I need to learn to be still in my doubt, tender in my fears, and embrace all of me, even as I see the me that needs embracing is dark and wounded.
Saying God is not in my doubt is sort of like saying God was not in my past – in my drunken stupors and bleary-eyed cocaine hazes – and it is an insult to God. It limits God and God’s love and grace. It is about the same as if I am saying God only exists when I say God exists; as if God does not start being real until I say God is real. Leaving God out of my doubt, or fearing my doubt, is an ego-based act of attrition.
Saying God does not exist in the doubt is an insult.
And when people are uncomfortable with my doubt, and speak with words like backsliding, or faithless, or heretic or not a true believer, I just tell them their discomfort with my doubt, and my truth does not negate my truth; that no one defines me but God alone, and no one truly knows the faith or lack thereof that dwells in my heart.
For people who say that doubt is the opposite of faith, and the lack thereof, are people who have made God two sizes too small. For God is everywhere. There is nowhere (no where) that God is not so that means that there is nowhere that God’s love is not.
My doubt and the crazy cracks in my faith are the very spaces God uses to let his light in to shine my world up. The same is true for you. My doubts, and my cracks, are truly gifts from God. And for them I thank God and sing praises to him.