Doubt as Gift
As we draw near to the end of our series on doubt, I am hoping that you have realized that doubt is normal and that it usually is not a bad thing. Doubt is not necessarily something to eliminate, or even overcome, in our life. Doubt can actually be leveraged for gain. I can think of a number of gifts which I have received from doubt. I will cite just three. First,doubt has been a catalyst for growth spiritually, emotionally and intellectually in my life. Recall that Brian McLaren characterized doubt as a doorway through which we pass which leads us to deeper levels of maturity. As I began to doubt some of the dualistic thinking of my childhood, I grew to see nuance and shades of gray in life. For example, I learned that good people can do bad things and that solutions to problems from an earlier era can create problems in the present.
Secondly, I received the gift of honesty from doubt. It is not that I was overtly dishonest before, but rather, I might hold back the whole truth of what I was feeling or thinking fearing that others might reject me if I shared the whole truth of where I stood on an issue or situation. Expressing my doubts openly has made me less concerned with the responses of others. When my doubts were met with rejection, I learned both that I could survive rejection and that to fail to express myself out of fear of that rejection felt worse than rejection itself! So, I am beginning to tell more of the whole truth of where I am- remembering of course, Paul’s admonition to speak the truth in love. Thus, my honesty muscle grows from sharing my doubts.
Finally, doubt has given me the gift of a modicum of humility. As a pastor and supposed expert on matters theological, ethical,and biblical, it has been freeing to be able to not have to have the answer on every issue. It has been life giving to admit to not knowing all the answers. Doubt can be an honest admission that “I don’t know.” I’m not sure it has improved my credentials as a theologian, but admitting doubt has made me a better human and a better pastor.
As we move forward together in these days of change and crisis, let us not leave our doubts behind in the past— they are a key way to shape the future.