I was baptized, raised, and confirmed in the United Methodist Church. I spent a good deal of time as a child attending Sunday school, church services, vacation Bible school (now usually called by its hip initialism “VBS”), youth group, choir practice, and an assortment of church family nights, potlucks, caroling, etc. In college, I had a minor in religious studies. My present day job is as a worship arts coordinator in an RCA (Reformed Church of America) congregation. All of which to is to say the church has had a big role in my life.
So why is it that I still have so many doubts about not only the small niggling Biblical oddities and contradictions, but even about the most foundational aspects of faith? One thing I have learned for sure is that faith cannot be forced. I’ve tried and failed. It feels phony. It makes my brain hurt. My good friend Craig Ferguson (not the late night TV host but pastor of River of Life Church, an outreach of the UMC congregation in which I grew up) once told me he enjoys “living in the question.” It’s not a satisfactory answer, but I like it nonetheless. It implies that there is more to explore. It tells me doubt is not wrong, but rather an indicator that there is a reason to continue seeking.
I am a Type A personality. I like answers. Vagueness bothers me. Living in the question makes me uncomfortable. My ongoing effort to find answers leads me to dig deeper. It takes me into dusty corners, down hidden hallways, and often humbles me by forcing me to change my mind. By embracing doubt, my faith becomes fuller. Sometimes I feel afraid and discouraged. Then I remember that neither Job nor Jeremiah received satisfactory answers to their questions either. I’m in good company.