Thoughts for Doubting Believers

Thoughts for Doubting Believers May 21, 2017

By Rebecca

So you’ve had a doubt or two. Or three. Take a deep breath, and let’s talk.

Maybe your doubts have piled up slowly, like dust on the furniture until one day they’re so thick you can trace in them with your finger. Maybe instead they show up on some days but not others, like a stray cat at your doorstep looking for a handout. If you feed them, they come around more often, like the cat, but if you shoo them away they go, only to return again a few weeks later, just at the moment you thought they were gone for good. Or maybe they hit you all at once, suddenly and with tremendous force, and you feel like you’re caught up in a tornado, swirling around in the air, not knowing which way is up or whether your feet will ever stand on solid ground again.

Welcome to the In-Between place.

It’s awkward here, and you may not like it. You may be here only a little while, or you may be here for years, but you probably won’t be here forever. In fact, I can say with a lot of confidence that you won’t. I can also say with 100% confidence that wherever you are, and whatever your particular In-Between place is like, it’s okay. It’s okay to be where you are right now.

There is no wrong way to be in the In-Between place.

You may have a million questions, and no one to ask. You may feel very strong in your faith one week, and very wobbly the next. You may feel anger. You may cry a lot. You may pray a lot. You may skip your usual religious practices, or throw yourself into them with more fervor than usual. You may feel a little queasy. Or not. You may wonder what they would say or do if they knew.

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke once gave the advice to “be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves…” This is your task at the moment. Like most things, it’s easier said than done. If you can’t quite love the questions, perhaps just tolerate them. Sit with them. Be curious about them. Acknowledge that they exist, because even if you don’t, they’ll still be there. Trying to push them away or shove them down may work for a while, but it doesn’t work forever. Sooner or later, the questions will have to be faced. Sooner or later, yes, but not necessarily today or right this minute. So take another deep breath.

Some people come out of the In-Between place with their faith stronger than ever. Some find their faith changed by time in the In-Between place: not gone, but very very different. Others find that in order to be true to their deepest self, to live with integrity in the world, they must leave part or all of their faith behind. At this point, you leave the In-Between place. You may return someday, or you may not.

Understand that there is no right or wrong answer here. What matters is that you are true to yourself. Don’t be afraid of your questions. Stay curious. Let the In-Between place be what it is to you. Trust that whatever happens, you will come out the other side in one piece, wiser for the experience.

In the meantime, feel free to contact us for a listening, nonjudgmental ear. If you can’t talk to anyone else, you can always talk to us. We won’t push you one way or another. We’re only here to support you in your journey.

Whatever happens, we wish you well.

Photo via Unsplash / CC0

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