The art of childlike doubt

My parents introduced me to Jesus and gave me plenty of opportunities to get to know Him.

So did Peggy’s mom and dad, and Nancy C’s. And Janet, Phil, and Jimmy’s. The parents of those Foster boys and the guy who inherited that national moving company. All of us at the Arlington E-Free Church. It was a great place to grow up.

We came as families on Sunday morning and night. We knew endless choruses by heart – Isn’t He Wonderful, Heaven is a Wonderful Place, Every Day with Jesus (Is Sweeter than the Day Before), Until Then, This World is Not My Home, More, More About Jesus. We read familiar scripture, discovered that praying out loud wasn’t fatal, and listened to devoted youth leaders talk about walking the talk. On Wednesday night, we played volleyball, did a little group flirting, and learned more.

We knew what we knew and never questioned our futures, either earthly or beyond the grave. But, was it all good news? Strong faith is powerful. But blind faith? Maybe not.

My emerging not-a-crisis-of-faith has been, in part, fueled by the thoughtful writing of those who also have been bold enough to question what we all thought we knew. In her book, Faith Unraveled, the late Rachel Held Evans described herself as one of us – those born into the faith kind of by default. Like I’ve said before, for me, it wasn’t a matter of if, just when?

Evans writes about the double-edged nature of growing up “born again” … “[M]any of us entered the world with both an unparalleled level of conviction and a crippling lack of curiosity. So ready with the answers, we didn’t know what the questions were anymore. So prepared to defend the faith, we missed the thrill of discovering it for ourselves. So convinced we had God right, it never occurred to us that we might be wrong. (p. 195, Kindle edition) (emphasis mine)

“We might be wrong” about well-accepted behaviors and ideas is not new…

  • The earth is flat.
  • The earth is the center of the universe.
  • Slavery is a biblical construct.
  • Smoking is just a harmless bad habit.
  • As long as we recycle, everything will be fine.

Some of these things were believed because there was no evidence to the contrary – not then, at least. Some of them were believed because people in power decided they were true. Some were believed simply because we didn’t know any better.

But good golly, Miss Molly… Each and every one has been proven wrong time and time again. Proven wrong either by facts and advances in technology or because enough people asked questions. They questioned hard enough and loud enough and long enough that people could no longer turn a blind eye to the truth.

I’ve started asking questions, too. Some have been meandering about in my mind and heart for years but kept a low and shy profile. Some just recently came to life and immediately demanded a place at the table.

None of my questions are unique or ground-breaking, and they certainly won’t hurt God’s feelings or make Him mad at me. They are just questions, like conversation starters with Jesus and with you.

So, my lovelies, join me. Let your questions bubble to the top. Pursue the unknown and unsettled. Make discoveries. Explore unfamiliar territories. Get curious.

Let’s get reacquainted with Jesus and listen to His words as if we’ve never heard them before. Let’s ask hard questions and not allow a “crippling lack of curiosity” – or fear – leave us empty and shallow, lacking the spirit to get to the bottom of things that bother us.

Let’s discover the hidden and illusive art of childlike doubt.

Photo by Bennett Dungan on Unsplash

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