Not long ago, a friend corresponded with me—asking some questions about faith and admitting that they, for a while, had been struggling with doubt. To the best of my ability, I tried answering the questions posed. Then I responded to the part about doubt… this is what I said:
Just a word concerning doubt and uncertainty… the struggle isn’t bad, the struggle is a sign of life. Faith without struggle, without resistance, without doubt isn’t really faith at all.
God can handle your doubts and your struggles.
Certainty isn’t the goal. God doesn’t fit neatly into our theological boxes (He never asked us to put him in there anyway). Those boxes leave no room for wonder or mystery or “I don’t know.” I’m happy to hear that you are alive, struggling, fighting… it’s good. This is where growth comes from. This is where faith springs forth—from the seed that shrivels and dies and goes down into the dark soil (the dark night of the soul). You won’t always be in this same place, the light won’t always seem so obscured. Hold on, keep struggling, keep questioning, keep wondering. Don’t settle for trite clichés and overly glossy packages of faith all neatly arranged in their proper places.
Remember Jesus who confounded everyone… doing it all wrong, not fitting in the mold of expectation that they all had for their messiah.
God does amazing things with dirt. And with a faith that is a bit soiled.
I love you and I am proud of you.
(later, I wrote again)
While reading today, I remembered again our conversation… and what I read somehow felt connected, so I wanted to share it with you. The quote is Madeleine L’Engle…
Strangely I have found in my own life that it is only through a wintry spirituality that I am able to affirm summer and sunshine. A friend wrote me recently, “Winter reveals structure.” Only as the structure is firmly there are we able to dress it with the lovely trappings of spring, budding leaves, rosy blossoms. Winter is the quiet, fallow time when the earth prepares for the rebirth of spring. Unless the seed is put into the ground to die, it cannot be born.