For years I feared doubt; to me, it was a sign of weakness. It's better to be sure. It's better to know the answer. It's better to just believe. Expressing doubt meant a loss of faith, and losing faith meant disappointing God. Growing up religious, if I was asked a question I didn't know the answer to, I'd change the subject. I didn't want to look like I didn't understand the beliefs I was handed down.
But I didn't, and it terrified me.
Saying, "I don't know."
As a pastor's daughter, I was hard on myself for not "getting it". As a pastor's wife who worked primarily with teens, I forgave myself. I decided it was more important for me to explore how to interact with my beliefs. I chose to be honest with myself, and saying, "I don't know," grounded me. I became a seeker, leaning heavily on the practices of Christianity: reading my bible, praying, attending small groups, consulting with those who were older and wiser.
Teaching what I didn't know allowed me to embrace my doubts. I leaned on scriptures that pointed to us "never knowing" as my foundation. But as I taught junior high and high school students how to explore their doubts - encouraging them to own their beliefs - I began to recognize that many of my beliefs were not mine.
I needed to clear religion out of my brain, restore to "factory settings" if you will.
I've changed my mind about doubt.
As I've embraced changing my mind, doubt has played a key role. Doubt addresses my hesitations, clarifying what's in my heart versus what's in my head. Doubt comforts. Doubt reminds me I don't need to know the answer, that asking questions and seeking is what moves me forward.
"Not all those who wander are lost."
Doubt has taught me how to accept my nomadic spirituality. Without it, I wouldn't know how to choose my beliefs for myself.
Doubt is an important element of my faith, and my faith isn't confined by religion.