I have a confession to make.
I have struggled with using forbidden words. There are just some words that good Christian folks don't use. I tend to find them rolling around my head and on the tip of my tongue at times. Since my filter is perpetually broken, that presents a problem for me. See, I love Jesus. But I tend to struggle with using the right words at the right time and there's just one "D" word that I can't seem to shake. I was taught that the "D" word should never be used. Period. ESPECIALLY in church and that goes DOUBLE when you are talking to God.
I feel like after months and months of sharing my heart with you all on this blog I can just go ahead and get real with you about this problem. So I'm going to just say it out loud and in print at this very moment. Are you ready?
There. I said it. And I printed it. I feel like some of you might have been expecting something else and to that I say: Shame on you. I also say: you may or may not be correct. But that's a blog for another day. Yes, I struggle with Doubt. So if you are one of the folks that sits in perfectly padded pews each and every week with an outlook reflecting the same perfectionism, maybe you just quietly close your browser now and forget I ever said anything. Because honestly, I struggle in areas that I think most people do, but are afraid to admit.
For years I never had any idea that doubt would be a struggle for me. But I have found that the older I get the more I question. I'm not just talking about faith either. I'm questioning what's in my food that makes it have a shelf life of 9 years. I'm questioning politics and people. I'm questioning that weird, persistent ache behind my knee. But this one thing— this One Place— this ONE AREA was where I had been taught that questions weren't allowed. You just have faith. Period. So I didn't ask. I just simply began to wilt.
No one really knew. But the system of belief that had worked for me for so may years wasn't cutting it anymore and my growth and very belief system suffered. I tried just doing more of the same... more Bible Study, more praying, more podcasts, more volunteering. And that left me tired and still disappointed. If I couldn't be honest with God that I was struggling then what was the point? One day I just couldn't take the loneliness anymore and I told Him so. I guess I expected silence. I think I expected to be condemned. I might have expected guilt. Instead I found freedom.
Are you any different? Or do you too struggle silently with doubt?
I remember telling God that I just didn't understand all the rules. I remember saying to Him that I just didn't "get" all the stuff that didn't make sense in the Bible... how do I reconcile things that are just so outlandish and seem contradictory? He didn't answer the way I thought He would.
He said, "Hey! I've been waiting for you! Wanna talk some more? Fire away."
So I did. Over the course of a few weeks God showed me that I struggled with believing in god because my belief was in a god that didn't exist. Throughout my life the god I constructed was based on a flimsy, rule-filled, punisher that was more interested in whether or not I was making the grade than whether or not I was seeking after Him. I spent so much time worrying about the rules and expectations that I had constructed myself a false god in the process that I began to doubt because He was never real in the first place.
Whew. That was hard to admit ya'll. If two or three of you are still with me, then I'll try to explain.
I had constructed a high and mighty tower out of the expectations of people and the false pretense of self. Then I climbed to the top and realized that God wasn't there and He never had been. That realization stunk. Really bad. But when I became honest enough to ask Him where He was, things got real in a hurry.
"Tammy, you've created quite a pedestal for yourself. I'm not there. I'm on my throne and if you want to find me, well, you're going to have to leave that tower. Jump. Jump right off and I promise, precious girl... I promise you will find Me. You can stay there and continue to be disappointed and live with doubt. You can stay there and only know Me from a distance. You can live your whole life and realize that in the end, you followed your own rules instead of following Me. OR- you can JUMP. Forget about your doubt. Forget about your questions and forget about everything else and zero in on the God who simply wants you. Jump. We'll address everything else once you are in My arms. Jump. I've got you."
That's the moment I became the Apostle Peter's soul sister. Remember when Jesus told him to jump out of a perfectly good boat in the middle of a hurricane? I totally get that now!! Poor old Peter couldn't help but go back to his doubt and started sinking like a rock. (Honestly, I still think this is why Jesus gave him that nickname. But who am I?)
So did I. And I fell upward.
What I have found is something that makes me sound like a lunatic when I try to explain it to others. Seriously. I sound like a Poetic nut-ball. But it has been my greatest joy and freedom to give up everything I have ever known simply to find out that I have never really known anything. The cure for your doubt, your unbelief, your questions, is to zero in on one, single, point: God. Forget about the things you don't understand right now and jump into the storm, lean into the unknown, and look long, and hard into that open space before you take a leap. There is no better place to find the rhythm of God's heart than from His arms while leaning your head on His chest.
For me, the questions aren't even important right now. They will be. As I become more in sync with God's pace, and seek Him in His Word, answers come naturally. I'm still exploring those unforced rhythms of grace, believing that grace will cover my mess ups, and learning curves. He's just that Good.
So, I just got real with you. And I hope it opens a door for you to get real with a God who is waiting with His arms wide. Can you hear Him? "Jump". I dare you.
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.