Family, Friends, and Doubt: Part 1

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Every week I hear from readers who have been touched in some way by Evolving in Monkey TownOne of the most common dilemmas these readers say they face is trying to navigate their doubts, questions, and new ideas in the context of their current faith communities.  Several of you suggested last week we address this on the blog, so I thought I’d introduce the topic by including an excerpt from an email I recently received from Dave. 

Writes Dave: 

…For the last three years my soul has felt like a sick and dying animal. God seemed gone, and suddenly all the perfectly logical systematic theology I had assembled my entire life to answer all the questions just felt apart. I prayed, I talked to all my pastors, I talk to my cell group at church, I talked to my wife, and I talked to God a lot. I didn’t know how God could demand that I be intellectually dishonest in order to follow him. He gave me my intellect. How could I tell myself a young earth made sense, or eternal hell for people who never heard of Christ made sense, or any of the other big issues made sense when I knew I was lying to myself? How could I feel gratitude and affection to a God who randomly chose me to spend eternity with Him and took delight in the rest burning for all time?
When I posed some of these questions to others they would try to answer them (with genuine grace and love), and ultimately tell me I wasn’t trusting God enough. When I read your book, I wanted to cry. I felt like I had written it, because every question and suspicion I have held was echoed in it. And from your book and blog and other resources…I’m finding that I’m not alone. I know that God is good again. Jesus loves me, and even more amazing, He loves everyone, and plans to reconcile ALL things to Himself. I read my Bible eagerly last night, which I’ve felt ill doing for a very long time. 
There is one big problem though, and I know you’ve had to face it. My pastors, and the people I go to church with love Jesus very much and love other people very much as well, but they don’t subscribe to this line of thinking. In fact, when they hear me talk about it, they will be deeply concerned…It is possible some will assume I have never understood the gospel at all, and that I “went out from them because I was never of them.” I love these people, and I want to continue to fellowship and discuss and pray with them, but I know many may feel they can’t do this any longer. How have you dealt with this in your own journey? 

I’ll respond tomorrow, but today I would like to open this question up for discussion.  Dave is certainly not alone, and I know we could all benefit from one another’s stories. How do you respond when friends, family, and people from your faith community are uncomfortable with the questions you pose or the ideas you share?

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