It really isn’t cool to doubt. The aim of all questioning and doubting is to find the answers and move on, or so it seems in my generation. There is this burning desire to get all our ducks in a row and if we can’t, then there’s either something wrong with the ducks (so chuck em out) or with us (so it must be the ducks..). The stress of ambiguity is almost intolerable.
If you, like me, are in the business of mentoring others, then one of the worst things for your internal world is when the person you are working with ‘goes off the rails’. It often takes a super human effort not to wade in and ‘set them right’. I love the story of the vicar, when asked how his eldest son was going, replied ‘He’s coming along very nicely thank you, he’s an atheist.’
A week ago I spent a couple of hours with six interns, bright eyed and bushy tailed, going through their induction training before placements started in a few days’ time. They were chomping at the bit to share Jesus with everyone they met! The discussion went from getting the ‘Jesus bit’ right, to sharing one’s own story then eventually we got to where the rubber hits the road and what to do with the parts of our journey when in truth we hate God and frankly ‘he b****d off some weeks ago, so what am I doing here anyway?’. What do we do with that? Because you see, it’s not cool to doubt, and besides we are the ones who should have the answers, right?
Perhaps one of our greatest fears are the doubts we carry in the darkest corners of our soul that not even we visit often. We fear that somehow going there will result in the unravelling of the very framework of all we know and trust. Perhaps it will, but do we need to fear that?
When Jesus was preparing the disciples for his death and departure, he said to them, ‘guys in the next few days you are going to go so far and so low from where we have been these past three years – you’ll lose the plot so completely that, Simon, you’ll be back where you were before you even met me….. but even that wont mean that your faith will have failed. You’ll work it through in your heart, you’ll come through it and see clearly again but Simon (Peter) don’t forget you’ve still got a job to do, go strengthen your brothers.’ (well, that’s my paraphrase anyway!). the journey that the disciples were about to go on would freak them out, but Jesus wasn’t phased by it.
I recently had the privilege to spend a morning as part of a learning community on discipleship. We went through Lectio Divina, a simple, beautiful, reflective way of reading a portion of text with a group of brothers and sisters that brings out the sweet richness in the words. We took Matthew 28v16-20 as our text and the treasure that I went away with was that those who doubted were no less valued and commissioned by Jesus than those who seemed to have it all together.
There is no shame in doubting, there is no shame in discovering ancient, brokenness in one’s soul, it is not a sign that faith has failed, it is simply another precious step in the journey of faith.