It’s okay to doubt. One of the things that has ‘frightened’ me over the last few weeks, in relation to the UK vote on Europe, is some people’s certainty about the country’s future and the benefits of leaving the EU. How do they know? [They don’t!].
It is a sign of the times, in an age that worships (over-)self-confidence, that those who confess to a doubt are seen as weak, and those that appear to have no doubts are seen as strong, and we all laud strength. On the contrary, I think doubt is important, necessary; and its beneficial to admit a doubt or two. Never ‘beat yourself up’ if you doubt.
From those who don’t entertain any doubt: run!
‘Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.’ Frederick Buechner
Doubts, especially as ‘passing-through’ stages, can be beneficial. They are a sign that you’re human, and that’s good. It’s a sign that you realise the complexity of a situation, that their may be multiple answers and are seeking to weigh them up (even if not consciously), and that you’re not God.
‘Honest doubt…is marked…by three qualities: humility, which makes one’s attitude impossible to celebrate; insufficiency, which makes it impossible to rest; and mystery, which continues to tug you upward – even in your lowest moments.’ Christian Wiman
Steven Lewis writes about three basic ‘inner landscapes’ that we encounter in life. The mountain-top experience that we always want to dwell in; the valley which is where we spend most of our lives (in the ‘real’ world of work, rest and play etc); and the desert experience whih wwe would rather not dwell in, at all. However, he writes that in desert landscape (think ‘desert Fathers and Mothers), where doubts can arise, the most benefit can be had.
‘Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.’ Paul Tillich
Never despise a good doubt or two.