Doubt as the Temper of Faith

One aspect of the faith of others that I find myself wavering back and forth between admiration/jealousy and derision is complete and utter faith. The kind of faith that is immune to logic and reason, impervious to the tendrils of tragedy, unyielding in the face of all that can be proven.

I waver back and forth between these outlooks, depending on what I am struggling with daily, and what I find myself in need of. When I am looking for the comfort of an answer, for the surety of righteousness and the unyielding firmness of dogma, I find myself wallowing in envy for the doubtless faith that others hold.

However, when I am (in those rare moments) more honest with myself, I thank the Lord for the gift of doubt that he has given me. It allows me insight into my weaknesses, and to come closer to an understanding of why my doubt is necessary if I am to follow the path that God continues to reveal to me, bit by bit.

One of the things that I envy in those who have a more unshakeable faith that I is the, perhaps erroneous, belief that they can see, or at least imagine that they can, more of the Lord’s path than I am privy to. Each day, I feel as if I am discovering just enough of the path that He has set forth for me so that I may keep from falling off the mountainside. For those with a deeper faith, I cannot help but believe that they may be able to see far enough to not only keep from tipping off the mountain into oblivion, but to feel confident in the steps that they take.

I am sure that, at least in part, these intimations of mine are fanciful hopes, hopes that I wish to find if God blesses me with a deeper and firmer faith. But I am also aware that this weight of doubt that rests upon my heart at is, at the very least, a call to introspect and try to understand why I doubt. Hopefully, through this doubt, I can be led to understand the task that God has set forth for me.

Continuing with Hope, there are moments where this doubt that I have is tempered by hope, which then, I hope, tempers my faith, and makes it stronger in the face of hardship and challenge as I move forward in life. Hope allows me to try and find a purpose in the doubt, and the purpose that I see is that it allows me to develop an incrementally more profound understanding of why I doubt. Oftentimes, the reason for my doubt is not a doubt for the Providence of God, but a doubt at my ability to serve Him faithfully. I know that I am unable to do so, at least not always, and when my doubt is strong, it says that if I am unable to faithfully serve God at all times, then it is not worth it at all. When my doubt is tempered by hope, I can see that the moments of weakness, the failures, the missteps and sinning is a chance for me to look inwards at how I can be a better man, and look outwards as to how I can create a life and existence that is more conducive to living a holy, purposeful and God centered life.

When my doubt is tempered by hope, it has the chance to temper my faith and lead me to a place of firmer belief, more active worship, more engaged living and a more honest account of my inherent sinfulness. When doubt is tempered by hope and faith by the hopeful doubt, then perhaps I may be able to find my way to a more meaningful journey of faith.

A Crisis of Faith on Easter Sunday

For me, faith was something that was taken for granted throughout my childhood. With my mom being a convert and working for the Catholic church, and my dad being a “cradle Catholic” belief in Jesus, the trinity and my salvation through the Church was always something that I didn’t just believe in – it was something that just was.

Many times, in my current stage in life, I find myself wishing that my faith was similar to what it was back then – not even unquestioning, as the idea of questioning such a cornerstone was something that wouldn’t even cross my mind. I often wish that my faith could be something that imbued every facet of my life, elevated my actions and directed my goals.

In reality, my faith is a constant struggle. It is something that gives me fits and starts, certainly not something that makes my daily motions easier. And I am learning to accept that. Learning to integrate that into my understanding of God, of life after death, and of my role in the lives of those around me.

It is struggle that makes man grow stronger, even if all that this man wants is to sink into his couch and enjoy the luxuries and comforts that the modern, secular society can provide. My crises of faith (which are far more often than I would like to admit) are chances for me to grow in understanding of who the God of my understanding is.

In a time where I have lived with people who I love and respect, people who have incredibly different faith systems from my own, I find that I am unable to sit in comfort with the beliefs that I grew up with. While there is the ever present struggle to believe that someone who believes in a different belief system than me will end up in Hell simply because of that difference, there are so many other challenges that I find myself confronting. The beauty that is present in their beliefs, their rituals and practices, and in their books. The kindness in their hearts and the generosity in their actions. The conviction of their beliefs, as well as their solidarity with me in their own crises of faith show me just how fragile my own religion is.

It is here that I find the struggle to be the most prescient. The conflicts that continually arise between my religion and my faith. For better or worse, I find myself to be a man of deep convictions – whether these convictions will change as the wind does is another matter. With this, though, is the convictions that I have in my faith that contradict what is taught in churches, cathedrals and religious communities. Many aspects of my faith are molded and shaped by the teachings of the Catholic church. At the same time, there are aspects that are shaped by Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and others. Just as many Christian denominations teach that the relationship that we have with God is a personal one, I have found that my relationship with faith is in many ways similar to this personal relationship that I am taught to seek with God. All I hope with that is that it does not become so intertwined with myself that I cannot see God through my own ego and pride.

On this Easter Sunday, I continue to ask myself what it is that I hope for. The answer to that is not one that I yet have, and I am quite grateful for that. I find that the questions encourage far more growth and change than the answers ever do. On this Easter Sunday, I am grateful for a God that allows me to stumble through His challenges of faith, so that I may find Him. For when I do ultimately find Him, I fully believe that He will have His arms wide open for me.