Confessions of a Skeptical Believer

There is a streak of curiosity in me that runs deep. I believe it’s always been a part of me. It’s why I love to read, adore school, enjoy observing random strangers as they go about their day. And I remember everything – historiographies I read years ago, my favorite childhood moments, that conversation we had months ago. Everything is locked away in a mind that probably is full to bursting, because one day it might matter. It could mean something. It could be the answer to some important question, so I have to keep it.

But apparently with my desire to know everything came the inability to trust anything. I’m a skeptic, and I come by it honestly. It is simultaneously my favorite and most annoying trait. I’m suspicious. I don’t take anything at face value. I am full of doubt, questions, and uncertainty. My mind is a deep dark place, tainted by cynicism. I see the darker side of things, the not-so-pretty, and I assume the worst. Always the worst. It has become difficult, or rather impossible for me to simply accept that something is true.

If I hadn’t grown up in a Christian household, I’m not sure I would have found my way to Christianity on my own. Why would I? It asks me to do the one thing that I often feel is beyond me; the one things that literally undoes me. It asks me to have faith. To trust a God I cannot see. It gives me a book and says “this is Truth,” and the first thing that comes to mind is “but how can you be sure?” Because I need to be sure. I need to know without a doubt that what is said to be true is actually true before I can trust. But I’ve chosen a faith that says trust first and the truth will be revealed. It will come. Just take the leap of faith.

(It’s darkly ironic that I also have a slightly irrational fear of heights. Of falling off tall buildings or cliffs.)

Because I don’t do that. I don’t blindly follow for no reason. The idea of faith is at once completely familiar and totally foreign to me. I don’t feel as if I was made for it. It doesn’t come naturally. It is never easy. And most days it drains me. It takes all that I have and all that I am not to turn my back and walk away, to call it quits. Some days, I wake up and wonder if my faith is something I’ve outgrown. Maybe I’m only holding onto it out of habit.

Or maybe deep deep down in a part of my heart that I rarely bring to light, I know my faith is the truest thing in this world. God is real. His love is infinite. His grace is unending, and His Spirit dwells within us. Someday, we’ll see heaven and be told the mysteries of this universe and all the others. And that is worth more than anything.

I think that thought is more terrifying than all the rest. The idea that you can be certain. That you can trust. That you can have faith in something real – it’s too much. Most of the time, I don’t think I can do it. Maybe I’m not intended for it.

Earlier today I watched Safety Not Guaranteed. It’s the story of a man looking for a companion to go back in time with him, and a woman who answers the ad with the intention of writing a story on him and the ridiculousness of it all. But the longer the woman plays the part of companion, the more she starts to believe this might be the real thing. Maybe this guy is right. Maybe time travel is possible. The idea was so lovely and wonderful, and slowly she began to fall in love with it. Slowly, it became real. And as she watched the man and heard his absolute certainty, his complete faith in the plan, she believed. She had no reason not to.

Until someone else gave her a reason to doubt. Someone else came in with their cynicism and skepticism and made her question what her heart had convinced her was true. And for awhile, she gives into the doubt. She succumbs. She lives in the world where the man is crazy, time travel is absurd, and the whole idea is too fantastical.

I won’t give away the end. (That goes against everything I am.) But I will say that I was moved beyond anything to watch the story and see the idea of faith and trust played out in such a way. Even I found myself wishing with everything I was that time travel was real, because the man believed it with his entire being. Because even though the concept was fantastical, it was beautiful. His faith was beautiful. Her trust was beautiful.

And I wanted that. With everything I am, I craved that. The ability to take the leap, to reach out and take what was offered. To accept with a smile that maybe the things we don’t understand are the only things worth knowing and believing in.

My faith, I believe, will always be something I have to work at. I’m not sure it will ever be easy. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful or wonderful. It is completely my own. And I don’t believe that any two people have the same faith. We’re all different. But seeing the faith of others, that amazing strong faith gives me hope. It gives me something to work for. It lets me know I’m not the only person out there who believes as I do, and that is a lovely feeling. It makes my heart lighter and my soul happy. And it gives me the strength to keep going.

Maybe my belief, my faith despite the doubt, makes it even more beautiful.

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.

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5 thoughts on “Confessions of a Skeptical Believer

  1. I was a skeptical believer too. I was skeptical even of my own skepticism. I became a moral relative atheist in my late teen to 23, where God used a beautiful girl, now my wife to bring me back to himself.

    Now I spend my time studying what I believe and why I believe that is true(studying philosophy of religion and theology). Like you I need good reason to believe in God and I think, as doubting Thomas, there is a room for skeptics in Christianity.

    Remember it is God who calls, and keeps us in Himself. Thank you for sharing in this wonderful article.

  2. Nice article. Faith is like walking, you fall down a lot at first, but then you get better at it. Eventually, you are running.

    Have you ever really thought about what is happening when you walk or run? I read something once that really helps – when you’re running, you are basically falling forward but trusting that the next step will keep you from falling. Maybe that’s why scripture has verses about how God can keep our foot from slipping.

    Christians are always worrying about trusting God about some big leap, but really it’s just small steps, day by day.

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