Archive for the ‘doubt’ Tag

The Virtue of Doubt   4 comments

Yesterday I texted Kimberly, “almost a perfect hike. 45 minutes of good cardio in the sun, a stroll along a beautiful mountain view, adventure on a new trail, and then overcast to be a perfect ambience for meditation.” Then I texted her this picture.

We get gorgeous views when it’s not cloudy, a rarity in the Pacific Northwest winters. And when the sunshine falls on my day off, even for a couple of hours, I consider myself lucky. I said it was an “almost” perfect hike because instead of being simply overcast, it rained the last 30 minutes down the mountain, which made me hurry to finish rather than calmly meditate. I finished texting Kimberly, “Near the end I laughed, thinking, Yeah God always has to add that little dose of ‘reality.’ Life never seems to come neatly gift-wrapped with a bow, but always manages to throw us off-kilter as though it fears we will settle down too easily into comfortable stagnation. There’s always something that doesn’t quite fit in the box, that leaves a sense of dis-ease challenging our neat organization of the world. Sometimes we flounder desperately trying to make sense of it all. Living genuinely is scary and confusing and painful, but it leaves us open to new directions we may never have considered. It’s a very messy affair wobbling courageously down a trail with no clear markings. Faith is given not so much to make us stalwart in our certainty, but to make us stalwart through our uncertainty.

Posted March 5, 2021 by janathangrace in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

Struggling with Meaninglessness   2 comments

What makes a life meaningful?  I thrash this out every day without an answer.  Are we each born with a particular role to play, some important and unique goodness to offer the world, a vital and irreplaceable gift to this place and time?  Is it a natural result of our daily faithfulness or must we work to bring it about?  Can we see it in action or is it hidden?  If that remains a mystery to us, does faith call us to keep looking or to let it go?  What do I tell my aching heart as it faces disappointment day after day in finding meaning, usefulness, purpose?

Do I try to make a few small contributions carry the weight of a whole life lived? Does 24 hours of eating, cleaning, sleeping, thinking, and doing my job find its meaning in giving someone a brief smile mid-afternoon.  It seems like a huge investment for a very small outcome, something a cat video could do as easily, and for the benefit of thousands, not just one.  If the world is no better for my living in it, then why am I still here?

I wash the dishes and what does that accomplish?  I will be in the exact same place after the next meal, a sink full of plates and silverware.  Like one more step on the gerbil wheel, I shop, cook, eat, wash, sweep, water the plants, feed the dogs, shower, driving the wheel through one more cycle and the major result is being one day closer to death.  Being faithful feels more like meaningless drudgery, like digging holes and refilling them, than it feels like usefulness.  Sure my muscles are being strengthened, but to what end… to dig more holes?

In the meantime, the world oozes with needs, and I have gifts to offer that are log-jammed behind closed doors.  I only see one option–give a short smile to my next customer.

I share these thoughts to offer to others my honest struggles, not to offer answers, which I often do not find.  It is the sharing that I hope encourages others to know they are not alone.

Posted May 22, 2016 by janathangrace in Personal

Tagged with , ,

Look Who’s Talking Now   2 comments

listening“Is it God’s voice I hear in my heart or my own voice mimicking God?  How can I tell the difference?” I asked Kimberly tonight as we stared at the candle flames.  It was more a doubt than a question.  “Even if it IS God talking to me, I may hear it all wrong, just like I do with you,” I continued.  God’s voice may be in my head, but it is hardly the only voice there.  In fact, as a boy I assumed dad was God’s mouthpiece. I still have trouble telling apart their voices inside me, not because they sound so much alike, but because the mix-up was so long standing.  Over the years I have internalized more inflections–preachers, authors, teachers, Christians.  So who’s talking now?  I am learning to distrust those messages that do not harmonize with grace.  God’s heart-songs are always the cadence of love–even if it is a hard scrabble love.

spring-waterWhen I have  a friend with me, it colors all that I do, how I do it, and how I feel about it.  If he is critical by nature, I will be cautious and inhibited, tense and doubtful.  If my daily companion is God, what kind of God is he?  If my hours are spent with a God who is focused on fixing my flaws, I will live out of fear and shame.  I will be worse off for all my spiritual intent.  It is crucial for me that the God I chat with over the dishes and in my car is the God of all grace.  It is not only his presence I need, but his compassionate presence.  I have enough harsh voices in my brain without adding Sinai to the cacophony.  “Perfect love casts out fear.”  May we all drink from that stream of redemption.

Posted December 1, 2012 by janathangrace in thoughts

Tagged with , , , , ,