As much as I strive to have faith in God and His plan for my life, I will admit that I continue to have moments of doubt in God, His plan, myself, and others. When my faith is firing on all cylinders, you cannot shake my belief in anyone or anything. When my faith is waning, you cannot convince me that there is any point to believing in anyone or anything. Yesterday, the state of my faith was definitely in the latter category, and I became “the doubting Kristi”.
For a myriad of reasons, yesterday was a day when I threw in the towel and was awash in self-pity, fear, impatience, and loneliness, and I felt paralyzed by these feelings. I shut down emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically and did nothing, and I went to bed in the wee hours of the morning feeling completely numb. When I awoke to more falling snow on a quiet Sunday morning at home with my daughters, I still felt anxiety and fear lurking beneath my emotional surface, waiting to re-emerge for another day. Unlike yesterday, though, I was able to begin to take some small steps, such as exercising, praying, and cleaning, that made me feel the stirrings of life in my body, heart, mind, and baby soul. It wasn’t until I read from Stephen Cope’s book, “The Great Work of Your Life”, though, that I understood that doubt is at the root of this debilitating anxiety.
When I came to the following passages in Cope’s book, I felt as though they were written for me and about me, for he put into words what I have never recognized in myself:
“Doubt afflicts the person who lacks faith and can ultimately destroy him.”
“Doubt, as understood here, really means “stuck”-not skeptical. Doubt in this tradition is sometimes defined as ‘a thought that touches both sides of a dilemma at the same time.’ “
“I know people who have been stuck in doubt their entire lifetime. Each of these unfortunate individuals-some of them my very own friends and family-came at some point to a crossroads. They came to the crossroads and found themselves rooted there, with one foot firmly planted on each side of the intersection. Alas, they never moved off the dime . . .”
When I read those words, I felt my eyes begin to well with tears and swallowed hard, and every hair on my arms and the back of my neck stood at attention. The reason for this reaction was because he put into words what I never had been able to identify and articulate, and this made me feel less alone in my dark moment. On a more practical level, because Cope named the feeling that I had not recognized, I now could address it and begin to resolve it.
Lately, I definitely have felt stuck personally and professionally, and I also have felt as if all of my positive thinking and actions have been in naught. I want to believe that everything happens for a reason and in my best interest, but when things don’t happen as I think that they should and/or when I think that they should, I become disillusioned, impatient, and frustrated. I will drive myself mad trying to figure out whether to give up or hold on; how to resolve the uncertainty of certain situations; and what I need to do or not do to make my goals and dreams come to fruition. It’s akin to being suffocated in mental and emotional quicksand. When I feel like that, sometimes, it feels easier just to give up than it is to have faith and keep going, and I let my doubt edge out my faith. This doubt consumes everything in its path, and it leads to a firestorm of inner conflict and conflict with others in my life. There were times yesterday when the doubt felt like it was killing me, and I began to fear living a life unfulfilled, “with one foot firmly planted on each side of the intersection”.
While today finds me feeling less anxious, despite having doubt, I know one thing for sure. I refuse to say at this crossroads for the rest of my life, and even though I question my faith, and even lose faith sometimes, I have an innate belief in myself and in the vision I have for my own life. As I face the underlying doubt, I trust that as long as I keep moving my feet forward, then I will find my way out of the intersection to where I am meant to be. That is something I don’t doubt.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story