All That I Have Written Is Straw. . .

Meanderings of a Catholic Devout

If you don’t doubt, you won’t grow

with 5 comments

It’s as simple as that: if you have faith and you don’t doubt, you aren’t human.

The way we believe in God should and must vary at different times in our lives. Even if that means doubting his existence.

Like most kids, when I was little, God was an old man with a long white beard, blowing wind from atop a cloud. He was the Old Testament God: smiting enemies who didn’t keep his commandments. And Jesus was a man who loved me and kind of shook his finger at bad people. That was all. 

In my simple mind, my family was my god, my provider. But after losing my mother and my siblings, God became my tormentor. And after years in therapy, I learned that God was a figment of my imagination, a delusion, a way of keeping pain inside to fester. I must be my own provider. Who needs commandments?  Morality is relative, right?  Because “god is good, except to me.” And because I couldn’t take “revenge” on a delusion, I set forth in my path to gain ammunition to fight the idea of a delusion.

But after all my education in Ethics, Logic, Metaphysics, Epistemology, from the writings of Plato to Heidegger, Moses to Sartre and Derrida, Darwin to William James, all I found was that the only enemy worth vanquishing was my own ignorance.

God, like a patient father, watched me all along from the bleachers of the little league field, careful not to intervene as I learned to grow.

And then, when I was breathing through an oxygen mask and paramedics were clipping off my shirt, God decided enough was enough. How he didn’t even have to lift his finger much for grace to flow into that mask!

Of course, the hardest part about reconciling my atheism to this newfound faith was relinquishing my obstinacy about being wrong. It took a few years, still, to finally let his grace into my heart. My soul was breaking my heart so that it could molt its hardened shell. “The soul loves the flesh that hates it…the soul is imprisoned in the body, yet preserves that very body.” (The Epistle of Mathetes to Diogenetus)

How I poured my soul out in a confessional booth to poor Father David, a relatively new priest. (I hope, pray, in some small way, my most humbling moment gives him strength to continue his service in the priesthood — Lord only knows how my confession must have legitimated why priests do what they do.)

Now throwing myself quite literally at the foot of the Cross, what was the use of all that philosophy? What was the point of all that self-inflicted suffering?

Still, I doubted. I let other priorities in life ease their way into my heart, ahead of my faith. I begin to wonder why I never learn.  Why I keep making the same mistakes, why I keep doubting.

And then when all of my quasi-foundational life failed, I recalled what my Father had done before. So without hesitation, I submitted to his will, picked up the pieces of my life and started again. I heeded his commandment, knowing that he gives it out of genuine love for me.

Right now, doubt is the furthest thing from my mind, aside from the superficial aspect of writing about it. I feel God in all good things, even when they aren’t very popular. The people I am with aren’t there by coincidence. . . and they don’t stay around me either by coincidence.

It saddens me much to reflect that I will doubt again. I will lose faith. I will be the adulterous bride to the forgiving groom. I will start to drown like Peter until I admit my reliance on God. But it lightens my heart to know that he will reach out to save me, without hesitation. And I think he will smile at my folly, my silliness and lovingly mock the “strength” of my faith (or lack thereof). God has never broken a promise.


Written by Written Straw

August 9, 2011 at 8:59 am

5 Responses

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  1. Grace is an amazing thing and has done wonders in my life – thanks for sharing yours. May God touch your heart and leave a fingerprint no one can wipe away.


    August 13, 2011 at 10:08 pm

  2. Hi, ma’am!!!
    Have you ever read THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS by C. S. LEWIS


    September 5, 2011 at 9:24 am

  3. Great post. Here’s another post on doubt that I think you’ll like:

    Alex Oh

    June 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm

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