This post is part of a series on spirituality and coming out. You can read the rest here.
Here's the complicated thing about faith for me: it is a paradox. Without doubt, even just the slightest shadow of it, there is no need for faith. Faith with no room for doubt is merely an observation of facts. And if life was that apparent, if spirituality and religion and the origins of our universe were that obvious, we would all believe the exact same things, all the time. But we don't, because when it comes to life's great mysteries, there are few true facts to stand on. So what we have instead is faith, our own private collections of things we choose to believe are true, though we cannot prove them to be. This is the essence of what unites entire religions, and at the core of it all, is a small space for doubt.
When it comes to spirituality, ask me what I believe, and I will give you a short list. On it, are things I can persuade my soul to see as true without it revolting, things like the existence of God and grace and the soul.
Ask me what I want to believe, what I have tried for years to force myself to believe so I could wrap my identity up in a pretty bow and call it saved, so my relationships and life and purpose could be easy and simple and safe and good, and I will hand you a laundry list so long you won't even want to read it. I no longer care to read it myself.
Ask me what I know for sure and I will tell you: absolutely nothing.
Go ahead, look me in the eye and ask me if God exists, ask me if He really is Love, or who Jesus is. Ask me whether any of the things I have experienced as God were actually Her. I will give you the same answer to every single one:
I don't know.
I don't know.
I don't know.
I can only tell you what I choose to believe is true, what I hope to be true, and how I let those hopes affect the way I see and live in the world. I cannot tell you facts. To me, spirituality is not a matter of facts. It is a matter of the balance between faith and doubt.
Other people have found a happy medium. They hold to faith with one hand and doubt with the other. They don't let their faith make them self-righteous, but they also don't let their doubts take over. They simply choose to believe what they know they cannot prove and don't let the questions and possibilities overwhelm them.
And then there are people like me, who doubt uncontrollably until they are both dizzy and disillusioned. They watch what was once their living water, fluid yet containable, slip through their fingers like a fine mist.
By fate or by chance, I found a few of those people, a lot like me, first in my own community and then online. We even started a little group, which we call Doubters Anonymous, and I can't tell you how much it has meant to me, to us, to know we are not alone, nor crazy.
Maybe you also need to remember you're not alone in your perpetual not-knowing. You aren't, you know. There are lots of us, who want to believe, who try to believe, but for whom faith is just. so. hard. because we have been burned by it or scarred by it or just can't reconcile it with our hearts or souls or minds. You can join us there if you like. I sincerely hope you will.
And just to show you how not alone you are, we're hosting a little link-up called What I Want You to Know about Doubt (with thanks to fellow doubter Beth Morey for the idea). It's just a way for us to get together and be who we are, to invite others into what we're processing and to banish shame from the experience. If you're a doubter who writes, please consider adding your voice to the conversation by writing about whatever it is you wish more people understood about doubt. The link up will be held here on Thursday, June 5th. Just write something at your own place before then, then come here to add it to the list of posts. Or if you'd like to contribute but don't have a blog, I can host you here, publicly or anonymously. Just email me at alissambc at gmail dot com. Here's to hoping I see you then! Your voice is needed in this conversation.