what i want you to know about doubt {a linkup}

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there was a time in my life that i had no doubt.

only certainty that what i had made the center of my life was, indeed, the whole truth.

then, my foundation suddenly crumbled underneath me; after the seeds of doubt i’d been hiding in the bowels of denial put down roots and made quick work of destroying all i thought i knew.

a switch flipped one day, when i asked the question – at age 22 – newly married and just out of college: “what if it all isn’t true??” i spent the next seven years desperately trying to get that switch to flip back, to turn the lights back on.

i wanted it back – the easy, certain faith of my youth.

it was a miserable seven years; full of dark confusion, desperate searching, depression, resignation, wishing for it all to end (one way or another).

(i have never been more grateful than the moment i stepped out of that fog into the warm lovelight of a present God.) 

 

what i didn’t know back then was that doubt is normal.

 

it is a vital piece of a vibrant, alive faith. because certainty is no faith at all.

“If we are unwilling to live askew for a while, set off balance, to wait on the ever-spacious threshold, we remain in the same old room for all our lives. If we will not balance knowing with a kind of open ended not knowing – nothing new seems to happen. Thus it is called “faith” and demands living with a certain degree of anxiety and holding a very real amount of tension.” -Richard Rohr, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective

i have found this to be oh-so-true.  once i have learned to sit with my doubts, allow them to inform my faith; accepted, rather than denied, them… brand-new doors have opened to me, doors to freedom – and even creativity – with God.

 

but here’s what i want you to know about doubt:      ::it doesn’t feel normal::

 

not when you’ve only ever known certainty, and have believed doubters to be “…like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1:6-8 NIV). my impression was that doubting was cause for shame, so i had just never gone there.

during those seven years, as i approached pastors and philosophers, apologists and religion professors, i was trying to pull myself out of what was surely a shameful situation of no longer being able to simply believe. it was incredibly painful, that upheaval of the faith i’d once known. it was excruciating to no longer know what was true, no longer know how to orient my life.

no one chooses doubt because it is the easy way out, because they’re being lazy about their faith (somehow i had this impression). it is anything but easy.

i had a few people during these years tell me, with a wave of the hand: “oh yeah, of course – we all have doubts.” i’d – at first – begin to breathe a little easier, until they followed that up with “that’s normal; but i just keep coming back to the Bible, where it says God blah blah blah…” nobody stopped long enough to hear me that i was questioning everything. not just the specifics of where my beliefs would land, but the big things they took for granted, like God’s existence or the veracity of the Bible. this doubt i was experiencing was not “normal“, based on the responses i had to what i was experiencing all those years. no.one.got.it. i was alone. 

the very few responses that helped me, that gave me hope, were the ones that spoke to their own personal experience of a big God. the friend who said “i will see the light for you until you can see it yourself.” and refused to be anything but present. the ones who guided me deeper into my doubts to see what they were telling me – about myself, about God. these hearts held mine gently until that day that light pierced the fog.

my faith now is so much messier than it was before the lights went out. and so much more beautiful and free and real. 

now, there is daylight and there is moonless night.

they both move in my spirit, and i am with God.

***

this post was written as a linkup with the Doubters Anonymous group my friend Alissa runs (and i am part of) – if this is a topic that you’d like to read more perspectives on, go check it out:

What I Want You to Know About Doubt

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Spread the Love [blog tour]

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art by Beth Morey

Beth Morey is one of my favorite people on earth. about a year ago, i messaged her and told her we needed to be BMFF (best mama friends forever, obviously) after reading an article she wrote as part of Wild Goslings. She is amazing and creative, both as a painter and a writer – she inspires me every day. I have one of her paintings hanging in my studio, entitled Brave One. (i wrestled it away from Rachel [who is also posting as part of this blog tour today, tagged by Beth as well] because my “word” last year was “brave”, and the blog i was writing on at the time was entitled thebraveone). Beth suckered me into invited me to be part of this blog tour, so here goes…

1. What are you currently working on?

I am knee-deep in a project that has my heart. It is a series of found poetry art pieces based on my interactions with the Bible. I have made my way through genesis 1-3, and am considering publishing options, while I continue the process.

(I am also creating course content for my workshop for the MADE ecourse, as well as some content for other collectives and ecourses, including ones within the Story Sessions community. And I’m always art journaling.)

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not aware of anyone else working in found poetry as interaction with the Bible – it is a really deep art & faith intersection for me. It is prayer. My process currently includes blackout poetry in an actual Bible, as well as the finished art pieces, so that’s…unique (sacrilegious/scary/freeing/awesome).

3. Why do you write/create what you do?

There is a long backstory relating to how this process came to be, as well as the “why”. Suffice it to say there came a point in my life where I was longing for God, for truth spoken deep to my soul-depths… but the Bible was a threatening place, rather than a comforting one.

This creative approach to the Bible via found poetry and lectio divina has freed me up to engage with the text and themes on the pages, and in my heart and life, without feeling “triggered” back to the days of caged-soul-atrophy when those same words were misused against my heart.

I hope it can free others as well.

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

I begin my day and my creative time with some rituals that seem to open my eyes, remind me to be present and engaged. This includes a hot drink in the morning, with a one-word prompt drawn to set an intention for the day. I have a blessing I read as I enter my creative space as well. These all serve to center me, remind me why i create. If I am art journaling or painting, these moments tend to propel me straight into rhythm with the muse.

If it’s more of a writing day, i usually spend some time pouring out the contents of my soul onto 750words.com as compost for what words actually need to spring to life on my page.

As far as my Bible Found Poetry project:

>>I take a few verses at a time, some small complete section, such as Day One of Creation. I read it through a couple of times, and do a simple, short lectio divina with the passage. I listen, and look for what is shimmering, beckoning for my attention; both in one-word secret messages, and in the themes I feel come up.

>>I do a blackout poem directly in the text.

>>Then, I free-write about the themes emerging, and use some of the words from my stream of consciousness to “find” another poem within.

>>Last – and here is the fun part – I tear two random pages out of two random, coverless books from my shelf, and begin to pore over them, letting my eyes choose the words that resonate with the themes that have emerged in my writing. Then it is a flurry of cutting and arranging, before I’ll paint a piece of watercolor paper as a space to house my found poem. Sometimes I will draw some related imagery on the finished and assembled piece as well.

I come away from each time with an experience of myself and the holy. It has been a beautiful process for me, and I hope it will be art that can give others space to engage with scripture in ways that feel life-giving to them.

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So that’s me! I’d like to invite you to a few of my friends’ places next week – June 9th – to continue the blog tour.

First, Alissa Browning-Couch. She is so lovely, and has battled through so much spiritually; and now she is leading others through some of the darkness she herself has faced, both on her wonderful blog, and in the Doubters Anonymous group she created this spring.

Second, Jamie Wright Bagley. She is one of my fellow coaches over at The Story Unfolding, and she just released a poetry Book of Hours, In Shadow and Sun last week! (and yours truly had the honor of writing her foreword!) she is currently giving away this ebook for a limited time. it’s beautiful y’all.

And third,  Nicole Romero (also a Story Coach). This girl is doing ah-mazing work with Beauty and the Body. I took her Love and Making It ecourse in february, and i cannot recommend it highly enough. She is freeing captives, this one.

fourteen links later…

I’ll see you at Nicole, Jamie, and Alissa’s places next week!