June 23, 2007

A Doubting Place part 2

Posted in I wonder, personal at 8:22 pm by jimazing

Yesterday, I wrote about my feelings of doubt in the moment. My friend, Anthony, reminds me in his reflection that it is in the dark where we find the light… well, he didn’t remind me personally, but his message was timely. I don’t want to doubt, but I want to be ok with my doubt. Does that make sense? Over and over this God whom I worship makes Himself real to me. I doubt and he comes through. I question and He takes me to deeper depths to reveal Himself to me.

masks1.gifI know I am taking it somewhat out of context, but in John 8, Jesus said that that truth would make us free. I value truth and I believe that it very much does set us free. When we live behind masks, we create illusions that we have it all together. Then others see us as having it all together, so they put on their masks so that we won’t know that they are a mess. So, one by one, the masks go up and we hide behind them. All the while we are dying inside. We want friends we can confide in. We really want to have true confession. We want to live lives of truth, but it is uncomfortable. Scary even. Jesus said that the truth would make us free, but he didn’t say it would be easy or comfortable.

I am not the one to argue what truth is or to come up with scenarios to test the boundaries of truth. When is it ok to tell a white lie sorts of exercises. But I know what I mean by truth. I know when I am hiding behind the mask. The truth is, I am a mess. If you don’t see that, you haven’t really been reading my blog. Do a search for the word, “mess” and see what you see.

Do you have doubts? Are you ok with that? Do you see others as having it all together? I haven’t read this book, but I love its title, The Only Normal People Are the Ones You Don’t Know That Well. I say, “Let’ s take off our masks and be real.”


  1. ded said,

    Bernard of Clairveaux, an 11th century monk, said the following: (paraphrased)

    First, we love ourselves for the sake of ourselves;
    next, we love God for the sake of ourselves;
    we progress to loving God for the sake of God;
    the end is to love ourselves for the sake of God.

    I hear you saying you hate the judgment that makes people hide behind falsehood in our cultural religion, which we label the truth of Christianity. It is not real and does not allow one to live in the depth of being an authentic human.

    Authenticity cannot be expressed from behind a mask. Our hearts enter deep dysfunction or even mental illness if we pretend what is real is not there. People who are not satisifed to hide demand to live openly. I think this is, in part, why all these rationales float around for living one’s sin openly in the name of freedom.

    Drawing from my experience, I thought being a Christian meant two things for me. One, I had to stop behaving as a homosexual. Two, if I did what I was told regarding behaving correctly, I would be changed into a Christ-like creature who was not a homosexual.

    Step one actually proved to be the easier of the two, since the second step proved impossible. I called suppression and denial of who I was, which turned into an exhausting act behind a mask, as walking in Truth. The Truth is Jesus. I cannot change my natural, earthly nature into something as beautiful as the spiritual nature of Jesus by practicing “godly” disciplines.

    However, I also have discovered that in admitting my flesh is what it is–though I seek to live another reality in my new creature and by God’s grace and support within His planned spiritual “economy” have succeeded–people are not secure enough in the power and love of God to know I am a homosexual inside, who has learned heterosexuality. My experience is sometimes I feel and think things which are ugly and sinful, but I have to carry them alone.

    And, I have discovered also that I hate having to admit all this. That I hate myself seems a logical conclusion. But I, like you, ache to become a fully authentic person without a mask. I have to believe that if I can learn to love myself for the sake of God, I will be fully equipped to love others as myself in the fullest sense, which effects God’s will on earth…since loving others is commandment two. Imagine loving others for the sake of God! It is apparently one of the mysteries of God, that people who are a mess are best positioned to enter Jesus and
    be in the will of God.

    Thanks for these two post, Jim. They are dead-on about the honest need of people. It might be said, “You tell the truth.”

  2. ded said,

    And you know, it isn’t just our sinfulness we feel a need to hide. We tend to want to hide any honest feelings which feel contrary to what most folks believe or want to believe–especially when we feel our thoughts will cause conflict.

  3. jimazing said,

    ded, I am so humbled by your response. Your raw honesty and vulnerability affirms my desire to create environments where the masks come off. You are so right that we hide not only sin and shame. We hide our true feelings, thoughts and questions that would go counter to the crowd. I know that I struggle to tell the truth. I struggle to answer my brother truthfully when it would not make him happy. Many times, I choose to impress and make people happy over telling the truth.

    I want to continue to create places where the masks come down and the truth goes up. Where I can be me, the person that God made me to be. I also want to affirm you as the great Man of God that you ARE! I am proud to count you as my friend.

  4. ded said,

    Ephesians instructs us to tell the truth in love and to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Funny that we aren’t expected to maintain unity over correct doctrine! I have realized that in the Christian culture we have created, we seldom feel the freedom to tell the truth in love because few of us know how to maintain the bond of peace with anyone who does not think according to the approved program.

    I honestly am not cynical. I have allowed myself the freedom to think outside the box of “church” for ten years now. I have learned that life in the spirit is a very different place than conforming to accepted thought.

    Ever seen the Matrix, Jim? It sounds like to me you have awakened to the knowledge that everything you have been told to believe is not what it seems (hence the doubts for which you know no one to hold responsible but God); remember, one pill keeps you oblivious, and the other means you enter the rabbit hole and nothing is ever the same again.

  5. jimazing said,

    I love your perspective. Thank you so much for sharing it. I think the radical change of topic on the blog has made it seem more stark than I really feel. I didn’t change overnight from an unquestioning, undoubting believer to a radical unbeliever. I am a beliver who is full of doubts and questions. What’s new is the freedom I am experiencing to tell the truth. Your acceptance and maintenance of the bond of friendship helps me to feel the freedom easier.

    I appreciate your saying that you are not cynical. The things we are talking about could easily lead to cynicism and bitterness. That is certainly not my desire.

    Not only have I seen the matrix, if you will remember, Neo’s name was “Mr. Anderson”. I do love that movie and the metaphor for life that it is.

    I just re-read your statement “…the doubts for which you know no one to hold responsible but God.” I don’t think that I hold God responsible for my doubts. What a mind bender. I feel doubt. That doubt is an emotion that comes from within me. I cannot hold anyone responsible for my doubt. My doubt is mine. I think on some level what I want is proof and since I don’t have it, I struggle with doubt… but I know that there is no proof… and I know that if I had proof, I wouldn’t be satisfied… and I know that if God were small enough that I could understand Him completely, he would be me. I do not believe that I am God.

    I am so thankful that God brought you back into my life through this blog.

  6. ded said,

    Communicating in writing is a tricky thing. Added to that, I spend many, many workdays telling little people what is and what is not. Forgive how didactic I sound, when I fall into that “this means such and such mode.”
    I didn’t write what I was wanted when I commented that you hold God responsible for your doubts. I was trying to say as you experience doubts about ideas that seem overwhelmingly accepted, it feels like doubting God. It feels like one should hold Him responsible for religious teaching, the consequences of the same and the way in which it reflects on His character.
    You said, “I think on some level what I want is proof and since I don’t have it, I struggle with doubt…” Your continuing line of thought is, if it made proven sense, then God would be too small. I came to the exact same place. If I could reduce God to wrought iron, mental equalities on the human level, He could not be regarded as God.
    That, I think, is why Jesus asked if upon His return, would He find faith on earth? He knew how the collective rational intellect would develop over time. He openly pondered whether anyone would accept by faith that the God of the universe was willing to dwell in mere humans. That, after all, is the crux of the gospel: Emmanuel, God with us.
    Believe it or not.

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