Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

I was doing my pre-reading for Sunday's text, realized we're back to good old "Doubting Thomas" again, and I got to thinking about that dilemma of keeping our faith in the face of doubt.

I saw a really good blog one-liner yesterday:

“Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”

I think that’s pretty true. If we didn’t have those moments of honest doubt, we might very well fall asleep in the most real and alive parts of our faith journey. I think back to my struggles every time I'm faced with a spiritual reality. Without that initial mistrust of what I’m seeing or experiencing, would I recognize these moments as real?

When I imagine my own doubts, I have this image of a chasm in front of me. On the other side of that chasm is something desirable—like a special treat—a juicy steak, a bottle of hot sauce that I’ve never tried, something good. In the beginning the chasm looks huge and impossible to cross. I imagine myself in my obsessive compulsive way, pacing back and forth on the one side of the chasm, looking at the goodie on the other side, with the frustration of no way of getting there.

But as I pace back and forth, the little details of the chasm become clearer. Some spots are narrower than others. Some are wider. At some point, I may well see a spot where I start to think, “You know, a person might be able to cross right THERE.”

Now here’s the kicker about doubt. You never calmly walk over from doubt to belief. It’s because it’s a chasm, and it’s impossible to calmly walk over it. You have to leap. You have to take a run at it and just go for it. So you pick your spot, back up, make a run at it, and leap.

Some people never get up enough steam to give it a go. Some people won’t stand there and stare at the chasm long enough to decide there is a way over. They just turn around and go back the other way. Some people aren’t committed to making the leap, they only make a half-hearted leap and fall down in the hole and say, “See, I couldn’t make it over, therefore I’ll never try this again. I’ll just sit down here in this hole in my despair.”

I kind of imagine myself as this person who has, for the most part, learned to have the guts to make the leap, but at the same time covered with the dirt and scars of my failed and near-failed attempts. Sometimes I might almost make it over the chasm but slip down the opposite side, grabbing branches and roots and dragging myself up and over the other side of the chasm, scratched, bloodied, and dirty. Sometimes I have fallen victim to my own fears and fallen in the chasm, maybe even stayed there a while, pissed off. But somewhere in the process, I generally get to the place where I’m sick of staying in a hole (I tend to be fairly impatient once I've gotten past my initial despair) and try to find a way up and out.

It is another of those spots where the “la la shiny happy Christians” and I part company. They sort of imagine overcoming our spiritual doubts as this spotless clean white joyful thing, and I sort of imagine it as an extreme sport, where, when I’m standing on the other side of that chasm of doubt with whatever “spiritual goodie” was on the other side, I’m covered in mud, with bloody scraped knees and dirt under my fingernails, grinning, and exclaiming, “Wow! That was a helluva trip!”



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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