Today’s sermon centered on “Doubting Thomas”, a follower of Jesus who had doubts that he had been resurrected. He wanted proof that his fellow followers were not just seeing things. To me, Thomas just had a questioning attitude. He was out doing other stuff when Jesus appeared to everybody else so he missed things. I tend to be like Thomas. I tend to be like, “Show me the money, honey”.
As usual, the sermon was written for me. I am full of doubts. I doubt my brain will keep working allowing me to return to school. I doubt my job position will remain long enough to finish said school. I doubt the trustworthiness of my company. I can doubt people around me. I doubt that I can grow myself enough to function well, even excel, in a demanding adult world. What I don’t doubt though, is that for me, the doubting, the questioning, the seeking, the curiosity, is the point. Like it or not, I am a journey person.
The sermon put me at ease with my current, mostly daily doubts. Leaving room for God, other people, even other aspects of myself; will allow me to breathe in life more fully. From the perspective of relaxed openness, I can begin to court doubts as possible friends that can expand me, rather than foes that I have to put down. I can learn to leave room for life to happen, to make space to deal with whatever happened; rather than constantly running stressed out shutting things down to dispel those doubts. It is cool that I am in this space right now.
Despite these pesky doubts, something approximating gumption has burst forth. I can feel the rise in my energy. Leaving church, I felt like someone important had just told me that I don’t have to know everything. They informed me that most people don’t, that it’s alright, and most importantly, it’s acceptable to ask questions. Totally new to me. On the morning of the Resurrection and the following days, not all of the disciples knew what the heck was going on. It turned out okay for millions of people for several centuries now. Today I may not know what the heck is going on, but I am going to guess that it will turn out okay for me and mine for a few decades.
That is just me, in my currently small, simple, fairly insular life removed from the drama that created much of my doubt in the first place. I’d like to stay in this Zened place. It would be Hollywood lovely if my reflections ended here.
Swinging open my studio door, reality poked my Zen. My refusal to give doubt it’s due consideration and friendship has cost me greatly. The greatest has been in the limited rearing of my child. On top of my personal costs of this refusal, are the personal costs to him. Running from my doubts has proven to be expensive and very heavy. With my Zen by the shirt-sleeve; I curled up to ponder how I address doubt with my son. I strive to be an emotionally-available-I’ve-got-your-back parent. I also work to remain in two realities, his and mine. Mine includes owning my own crap balanced with that I am still the parent and the game ain’t over yet.
As a child I didn’t like doubt, it frightened me. Children need adults in their lives that manage doubt well. Sometimes as a parent I try to abolish all doubt. Absolute musts like, ” I will always and forever love and accept you no matter what.” Please don’t take this a license to maim, murder, or commit mayhem; but normal life mess-ups are okay, I will love you anyway.
Sometimes as a parent I want to remind my son to have healthy doubt. Parental worries like, “I know you are capable of making your own decisions, but I was once 21, in almost the exact same spot in life, in the same town, and almost the same resources and lack thereof; please consider my story as you live yours.” Fortunately, my failures are lit up in neon for my son to see; unfortunately, at times his lack of doubt puts him squarely on the same path. This lack of doubt as twenty-somethings tend to profess, worries me.
Then there are the well-founded, well-documented, well-practiced reasons for doubt that have been openly addressed. Believability, trust, and faith are difficult to re-establish when someone has suffered hard blows about their parent when that parent’s failures created more doubt. I think this feeds the need of having to know everything in that twenty-something. I was that twenty-something. Often I have to remind myself of those days so I don’t act like a jerk now, especially when my son and I are at odds. When I poke him about big important things he tends to sling something back at me, usually a defensive move, to show me that something I did didn’t work, wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, or based on my experience, he doesn’t need to do it. This argumentative doubt is hard to deal with, probably for both of us, but it is painful for me. It is painful to be slung at, it is painful that for now, it can be true, and it is painful that usually a failure, greatly affects him. I get his doubts. All of them. However, as the parent, as someone 25 years older, as an optimist, as a recovering person, and most importantly, as HIS parent; some of those doubts need not be. Some of those doubts, even those flagrant failures; are only flowers not yet bloomed, grass not yet grown, trees not yet matured.
His Mama is a work in progress. Like Thomas, I’ve just been out doing other things. Recovery has given me a new life and the peeps to go with it. I am now free to question and expect the best.
Doubt! Bring it on!