I Doubt, so I Believe

I am a doubter. One who doubts. That is to say one who is in a state of doubt. In other words, I am in a state of uncertainty with regard to the truth and/or reality of things.

You probably are too. I mean, if you have faith you have to be a doubter. At least in some sense of the word. Faith is not to have a sure knowledge, suggesting that faith depends on a lack of certainty, leaving those with faith in a state of uncertainty and therefore, by definition, doubt. That may seem a bit unsettling for some, or contradictory, or perhaps just straight-up not true. Yet, I live daily with doubt and faith. My doubts drive my faith and help me choose to believe. As odd as that may be. Honestly, I feel way better about my own beliefs having embraced doubt than I did when I tried to fight against it in the name of certainty. I used to say that I “knew” things. And maybe I did. However, I conceptualized knowing. But I just can’t do that anymore. And if I’m truly honest with myself, I’ve never felt super comfortable with claiming knowledge, especially knowledge that could not be improved with sight or some other experience. I believe in Christ. I believe that I have a relationship with him. Do I know that? No, I can’t say that I do. I am uncertain, yet it feels right, it feels true and so I believe.

I don’t want to criticize those that speak with certainty and feel that they do “know,” but I want space to believe in spite of and because of doubt. I want and need to embrace my lack of certainty and choose to believe regardless. That is where the power lies in my experience. When I admit to myself that I do not know, when I hold my questions in my hands, overwhelmed by my lack of certainty, when I realize that little is certain, when I feel almost alone, but remember the warmth of God’s love enveloping me and choose. When I choose to turn to God and His/Her/Their love. When I choose to go to Church even if I don’t know why and am uncertain about the benefits I receive. When I choose to pay my tithing when I doubt that every cent is used the way I would use it. When I choose to trust that God will work things out when it seems like hate and anger surrounds me. When I choose to pray to God, even though I doubt that He/She/They will/can/do intervene, but believe that something happens in that moment.

“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.” –Erich Fromm

I don’t need to be certain of much. I know God loves me and that is enough to fuel my doubting faith. I push myself because I do not know. I yearn for more understanding and the more I learn, the less I know. Like all great thinkers, am I right?

I may criticize too much and drink too frequently from my cup of cynicism, mixed with a healthy dose of skepticism. Perhaps doubt fuels that too. And I try to do so in productive and reflective ways. I understand that not everyone is like me (I learned that long, long ago, but not quite in a galaxy far, far away) and I don’t expect everyone to think as I do. But, I do believe that questions and doubts can be the birth-place of great things. The humble beginnings of a grand quest for knowledge and truth. The starting point of a journey that ultimately brings us back to God, being like Him/Her/Them.

I doubt and so I believe. Without my doubts, I would know and if I knew, why would I need to believe?

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4 thoughts on “I Doubt, so I Believe

  1. It is so difficult, however, to be in this place of believing without claiming knowledge, to feel that my knowledge of an infinite God is less complete than my knowledge of how to ride a bike (despite the former having infinitely more real weight), and yet not to get frustrated with those who say they know. It is hard not to force the world into a hierarchy—either it is better to be certain, or worse to be certain (often depending on how I feel that day), and that determines my worth. Are they just different states? And how fluid are they?

    Ah, more questions. But you inspire them so well. Thank you, friend, for another thought-provoking read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely. Although I’ve found the longer I occupy the space, the easier it is (most days). The struggle against enforcing a hierarchy on the world is one that I wrestle with frequently–I know what I feel and what has been better for me, but can I know that what is good/better for me is the best, or even better for others? How can I carve a space for those like me roaming the fringes, straining to see through our glasses darkly, without slamming those that are (or at least claim to be) certain? Questions, questions, questions.

      As always, glad you read and thanks for your thoughts.

      Like

  2. Conor, I love this! I find myself referring back to this frequently because it puts in to words a concept that I’ve been grappling with for a while. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I had been thinking through this post for a long time before writing it, wanting it to really capture what I feel and believe and not be negative, so I’m glad that it resonates with you as well. It feels good to have company in the doubting and believing world. 🙂

      Like

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