What happens when doubts are silenced for too long?

May 4, 2019 | Written by a member of Pulpit Rock Church

This week, I reached a pinnacle of achievement, being quoted by the pastor in the Sunday sermon. …Although come to think of it, it might be a rather ignominious achievement, having been quoted for my great doubts rather than my great wisdom.

You see, a month or so ago, Pastor Thomas stated in church that all were welcome.

So I did a little poking to find out just how far that welcome went.

Sometimes I think in church when we think of “welcoming everyone,” we’re picturing a recently-sober addict off the streets or an agnostic who has started searching for truth. We picture ourselves being gracious to even those so different from ourselves.

But I’m not a new Christian, and I’m not new to the church. I don’t drink. I don’t have a colored past. And I could quote the Psalms up and down.

But I doubt the inerrancy of the scriptures.

Ack.

Even typing that is terrifying. It would be better if I just did weed, right? Then at least I could be a project to be fixed.

I’m sorry. I’m sounding jaded.

Church has not always been a safe place for me, or those I know and love. In my previous religious experience, church creeds from A to Z left no room to wiggle. (Or to sound jaded, again: left no room for thought.) And I have watched as friends have been “farewelled” when they wiggled. Recently a friend of mine at another church, upon revealing to her pastor that her stance on women’s roles had evolved, was told, “Don’t come back.”

And I am a big, fat coward.

I want to belong. I want to be accepted. I don’t like to be on the fringes.

That’s why I have been silent—for years. Silent as I have questioned everything I once felt so sure about. I’m an Every-Other-Day Atheist. (Kind of like a Seventh Day Adventist, but more heretical.) I’m never a 6-Day Creationist. And on my best days, I can’t muster up even a weak adherence to biblical infallibility.

Although my faith has been going through one of the greatest crises (and renaissance for that matter) of my life, I have stayed mum. I’ll admit it: I just don’t want to be farewelled. I value the family too much.

But the cost of silence is great.

Besides the obvious consequence of making me a neurotic basket case, I have discovered an even greater one.

Because of my silence, I worry that the space between us has grown too vast.

I’ve been on a journey, and I didn’t invite or allow anyone else along. And now, my face weathered and my jaw set from the trek, I am unrecognizable to those who know me. How can I explain to them where I am or where I’ve been when I never even told them I’d stepped out the door?

How could they possibly understand where I’ve arrived when I refuse to show them the map of my vulnerability? When they don’t know the many stones I’ve stepped upon to get to this place? Now, I find myself in a place they wouldn’t recognize. I don’t know if they’d accept me, but the kicker is that they can’t even understand me.

I don’t regret my journey. But I do regret going alone.

Is Pulpit Rock safe?

As I admitted my evolving faith to Thomas to find out if the welcome extended even to the likes of me, I wasn’t chucked out. He listened to me and tried to understand my experiences. He empathized with me. And those few friends to whom I have shown a small corner of my map have shown me love.

But I do recognize that this isn’t only hard for me. It’s difficult for anyone who hasn’t been on this same journey as I have. It’s hard when people start questioning your beliefs—the beliefs that are so dear, valuable and life-giving to you. It’s threatening, and it can feel like an attack on you.

And how far is too far? How much can the bonds of unity stretch?

I don’t think there’s an easy answer, for me or for you.

But as I have called out from my distant peak, with much fear and trembling, people have tried to hear me and to understand, and for that I am grateful.

The next phase of the journey has yet to be charted on the map. But this time, I might invite a few friends along.

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Comments

2 thoughts on “What happens when doubts are silenced for too long?”

  1. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. While you have embarked on this journey alone, you are most certainly not alone in taking this journey. There are many other travelers on this road and they too are often afraid to audibly give voice to their doubt. You are seen, you are heard, you are loved and accepted. As a fellow traveler, I hope some day I have the privilege of hearing your story.

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