Note: this post first appeared on my personal blog May 2015.
Honestly, I don’t know how this conversation even started (maybe I have should written about it right away, huh?). But then you asked a question,
“Mom, what do I believe as a Christian?”
Oh girl…where to begin?!
I explained a few things, like how we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and came to earth to teach us about God and show us a way to Him; how we believe what the Bible teaches, especially the things Jesus tried to teach; how we believe God created us and knows us, and how we can live forever with him someday.
But then I paused, and I realized I need to answer another, unspoken question.
“But, Daisy, here’s the thing: this is what Papa and I believe. This is what we hope you believe and what we teach you to believe. But you have to decide for yourself what you believe. We can’t force you to believe what we do.”
“Yeah,” you told me. “I believe in God and all that…but sometimes it is hard.”
Can I just tell you how proud I am for you admitting that? That this thing called faith has an element of doubt woven in. That belief isn’t easy.
Here’s what I told you that day, and what I will continue to tell you every time I get the chance:
God doesn’t give us an easy proof for his existence. Faith isn’t easy. Mama and Papa doubt too, and I would venture to guess that most of us who call ourselves Christians do as well.
But here’s the secret: this faith thing is a journey. And the longer you walk along this journey, the more time you spend in reading God’s incredible story called The Bible, the more time you spend hearing the stories of His people, and in experiencing your own, the doubts begin to recede. They may always be there, but lean in to what you know, and trust the rest to God.
A lot of us adults have spent many years trying to “prove” things in the Bible using scientific methods, or sociology, or language study, or whatever tools we can muster to arrive at an undeniable “truth”. We approach the Bible as a book to be understood, if only we work hard enough. We want a list of rights and wrongs, dos and don’ts. We want to be sure we’re on the right side. We love our clichés and easy answers and want to be all about “the Bible clearly says” because gosh darn it, having the right answer always makes life easier.
Papa and I grew up at the edge of this generation, often called “modern” and your generation, clearly rooted in new thought and often labeled “post-modern.” There is so much about this way of thinking that appeals to me: the skepticism, the wonder, the pursuit of justice, the value of story, of community, of art and beauty. You’ll read the Bible for what it says, not what you want it to say. You’ll understand that there is context and culture and language that influence the text in ways you’ll never fully understand.
You’ll find a way to worship in community with others saying, “I’ve studied and I’ve prayed and this is the conclusion I’ve come to…but I could be wrong…” and then you’ll get to the work of Jesus: the loving the poor and the marginalized and the working to right wrongs and restore the broken.
In some ways you guys are going to get this Jesus-following thing so much better than we did.
And so, I trust you when you say “I want to believe, but it is hard.” I know that faith and doubt can co-exist. That you can be a Jesus-follower full of questions and OK with few answers. May this be the prayer of you and your generation:
“Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
We love you kid and we are so very proud of you,