Within our church’s denomination, I serve as the Raleigh Regional DBMD (District Board of Ministerial Development) Team Leader. It’s less glamorous than it sounds.
One of my roles is to conduct annual interviews with men and women moving toward licensed and/or ordained ministry.
Last Friday I conducted the first of 9 of these interviews at Bean Traders coffee shop in Durham. I had an apple juice. He had a mocha shake. (In the battle of drinks, he won. Hands down.) The interview was great. Mostly, we just talking about how and where he has seen God moving, and speaking, and calling him over the course of the past year. At the end of the interview, I asked him if he had any questions for me.
He paused. But not the kind of pause where you’re trying to think of something to say. The kind where you question whether or not you should say what you’re already thinking. “I know some amazing people who don’t have faith. Who don’t know God.” He said. “I don’t know. Sometimes I worry that my faith is just … that none of it is real. Do you ever wonder if maybe we’ve just made everything up?”
My mind jumped to a Macklemore song on The Heist. Track 14. Starting Over. It’s the story of Ben Macklemore losing his sobriety after three years. Now he’s back at the beginning. Just two days into sobriety. In the second verse, he’s standing at the back of an AA meeting trying to go unnoticed. When the meeting ends, he attempts to make a quick escape but someone says to him:
“…are you Macklemore?
Maybe this isn’t the place or time
I just wanted to say that if it wasn’t for Otherside I wouldn’t have made it”
I just look down at the ground and say “thank you”
She tells me she has 9 months and that she’s so grateful
Tears in her eyes, looking like she’s gonna cry #$%
I barely got 48 hours, treated like I’m some wise monk
I wanna tell her I relapsed but I can’t
I just shake her hand and tell her congrats
[NOTE: Otherside is a critically acclaimed song by Macklemore about his struggle with substance abuse]
I wanna tell her I relapsed but I can’t. My similarities with Macklemore are very, very few. But for a split second, fiddling with my empty apple juice bottle on the mosaic-tiled bistro table, I identified with him.
I wanted to tell him that I doubt too … but I’m supposed to be some wise monk, right?
Setting the empty bottle down, I pulled up a journal entry from a few days earlier and read it to him.
Really not sure what I believe … which, again, is an interesting question. Perhaps the better question is, what or whom do I belove? Perhaps that is the more important, more needful question. Beliefs don’t transform. Beloving does.
Maybe what-I-believe is the wrong focus … because it either results in crushing doubts (one end of the spectrum) or in artificial confidence (because who can claim perfectly correct beliefs?).
What (or whom) do I belove?
Because the truth is, even while I’m struggling to believe all of the validity and truth of everything, I could belove You, Jesus. I do belove Your way. I do trust that how You’ve revealed yourself in Jesus, is the right way to live … regardless of the precision or exactness of doctrines and statements.
Dear God, I belove. Help my unbelief.
I wanted to tell him that I doubt too. So I did.