It is often assumed that faith is the opposite of doubt, as if these are diametrically opposed. Instead, I see them working in conjunction, like two sides of the same coin. This partnering of faith and doubt ushers us to the conclusion of Karen Swallow Prior’s Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me for The High Calling book club. It’s a fitting end to a book so beautifully fixed on the process of growing, of becoming.
This process to becoming is life long, with plenty of faith and doubt to go around. Although doubt is often feared in Christian circles, Prior says that avid and “promiscuous reading has humbled me in showing me that ‘there is nothing new under the sun.’ As real and as important as any questions I have might be, I’ve seen that they are not unique to me. There is comfort in this, and chastening, too.” (191)
Doubt pushes us to seek answers that we might not be motivated to search for otherwise. When doubts plague me, I am forced to engage, to wrestle, to refuse to sit idle—to keep pressing through the darkness until faith becomes sight. And because my questions are only new to me, someone has wrestled with it before me. Their searching and finding in days past bring flickers of light to my current darkness.
Whereas doubt can often be pegged as anti-faith, Prior explains that this ability to question reflects how we are made in the image of our Creator: “Even the ability to doubt him, to struggle against him, to wonder at his ways is rooted in him. Certainty seems bigger than me, skepticism smaller. Wonder is just right.” (191)
I like that. Certainty feels like blind faith that refuses to address the very real difficulties we face in our becoming here on earth. And skepticism feels like denial that something within pushes us to acknowledge God, even if it’s to blame Him for what we don’t like around us.
Wonder feels like a freshly washed bed sheet snapped into a sweet-smelling canopy. Under its cover, I find room for all my faith, all my doubt. Wonder allows for questions, for pain, for frustration, for awe, for trust, for praise. Wonder covers me, reminding me that I do not know everything. But I know the One who does. In this process of becoming, I find that to be just right.