In the last few months I’ve been quite public with my doubts, and the impact that has on me, my faith & my ministry. Doubt is something I have spent a lot of time journeying with in my 20s, and I know I’m far from alone in this experience.
Being a 20-something is synonomous with exploration, adventure, learning, and being social. You are forming your own identity apart from the identity you were given from your family and childhood. If you grew up in a Christian family, it’s a time to decide what of the faith or values (if any) you choose to keep and what you wish to discard.
Turbulence is expected on the journey to becoming a fully independent individual. Anytime one explores new ground there is bound to be some unexpected rough patches.
But I’m not interested in revelling in doubt. I’ve done that enough, and I know that if you’re reading this you’re likely looking for something more.
As a Mennonite & Christian pastor, I would not be doing you much help if I said to you, “Just keep doubting and despairing about your existential crises, the Christian faith & tradition has nothing that can help with that, Jesus is no help here.”
However, it’s also important to validate the honest doubts that we’re wrestling with, to bring them into the light and use them as a growth opportunity. For some of us, our doubt is our safe place, for others it leads us down a dark path. Some people will never be free of doubt or despair, but we can learn to live with it and still have a vibrant faith.
It’s not so easy to “just believe” when God feels so overwhelmingly absent
So this is an invitation; I’m going to try something different here. I’m going to do an 8-part email series over the season of lent – starting on Wednesday February 10th – called “When God Isn’t Here” ending on Easter Sunday.
This might appeal to anyone who wants to dialogue with their doubt, ask some difficult questions, and/or maybe even re-connect with God over Lent. We will be dealing with some heady themes, but my hope is to make these themes as accessible for people as possible.
Why email? I know a lot of people who really struggle with doubt where talking about it in a group isn’t particularly helpful. Group discussions can often be good for building community, but not always the best forum for wrestling with deep philosophical issues – especially if you have people coming from very different places. The emails will also give opportunities for you to reflect and be challenged in the midst of your day-to-day life.
That being said – there will be three opportunities for in-person group discussion over the series. Totally optional. If you just want to receive the emails that’s perfectly fine. I’m also always open for one-on-one chats, too!
If you’re looking to join me on this adventure, I’d be excited to have you come along – just sign up here, or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or message saying you’d like to receive the emails. Then check your inbox on Wednesday February 10th (let me know if nothing arrives on that day – also check your junk filter) – you will receive more information in that first e-mail.