I am questioning my faith.
Maybe those words make you uneasy. I know if I said that to certain people, I’d likely leap into “urgent” status on their prayer list. So let me clarify.
In eighth grade, I was required to write a faith essay for my confirmation class. I went to the dictionary for help and quoted this definition, “Faith is a belief or trust that does not question or ask for proof.”
Fourteen years later I read that definition and shake my head. Really? No questions. No evidence. No doubts. Is that faith? Where are the examples of such faith in my bible? Where are the testimonies of unwavering certainty? Surely it’s not when the three amigos are tossed into a bonfire saying, “Even if he does not save us.” And it’s surely not the time when Jonathan tells his young bodyguard, “Perhaps the Lord will save us.” And it can’t be when Gideon uses a fleece blanket like a coin flip. And it’s definitely not when Thomas regards the talk of Jesus’ resurrection as mere fairy tale until he sees the holes in Jesus’ hands for himself.
If anything, on page after page in the bible, I find stories and people who give me permission to question my operational definition of faith. They show me that faith moves in ambiguity and wrestles with tension about as intensely as Jacob wrestled with God. I’m learning, like author Frederick Buechner, that “faith is better understood as a verb than as a noun, as a process than as a possession. It is on-again-off-again rather than once-and-for-all. Faith is not being sure of where you’re going, but rather going anyway. A journey without maps. Tillich said that doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.”
When faith is defined as absolute confidence, or as a possession, I think of a murky pond full of water that’s not moving. It’s stale and stagnant. It’s not inviting to others. No one wants to jump in for fear of all the algae.
But faith as process, faith invigorated by questions and doubt and thinking, has moving water. It’s active and lively. It’s engaged with life, whether beautiful or messy. It pulls others into its current and lets them know it’s okay to get wet.