Doubt. What a little word with such a big body. It can literally swallow whole dreams and purposes, and it’s not even more than five letters. Promise, imagination, dreams, potential all are bigger words, but if doubt gets its gander up, all those bigger words are powerless.
I talk about doubt because on days like today, where my whole morning was swallowed by crisis after crisis and the kids basically looked like zombies, doubt became the 800 pound gorilla slapping me around. I mean, how many kids are having uninterrupted learning while I fend off rumours and innuendos by phone over things I have no control over? Are my kids really benefitting from being around me as I fuss and fume over work? Is this the life they really desire, or do they just think they do, because they know it makes me happy?
Bigger, bigger, bigger grows the five letter word.
Then doubt’s big bully cousin, logic, steps in. It would make more sense, he says, to simply send them to school. You’ll still participate in their lives, right? It’s not like you’ll never work with them on educational things. And it’s the ‘quality time’ that counts. Logic is a little more subtle than doubt but just as paralyzing, because he uses the words that others use. Doubt uses your own words against you. Either one is a bear, but together they make a horrendous tag team of trepidation and uncertainty. What’s worse, they don’t give you solutions as much as an espace hatch that you don’t entirely trust as well. Wasn’t that door the same one you came in from? Isn’t it the way back from the problems that led you to this place? How come the escape hatch always looks familiar? I’ve never seen logic lead me to a new conclusion. It’s always moving toward a rusty, but tried and true door that creaks as it opens and flakes off in your hand, leaving paint flecks from the slamming of the door over and over as you left and returned again and again.
Then there’s faith.
Another five letters. Same size, same propensity to look smaller than it really is. Doubt doesn’t tell you about itself – neither does faith. Both wait for the circumstances to arise before it starts to speak. But while doubt speaks to what you say to yourself, and logic says what others say, faith says what you haven’t heard yet. And that’s why faith always seems unfamiliar – he has a new voice, an unfamiliar voice like that of a new bird song in your backyard. You hear it, but it’s so new that you either think you’ve misheard the same bird as before, or that it’s simply passing through. You don’t expect it to nest. But there it is again, the same new song, chirping loudly and so clearly that to ignore it takes effort. It never infringes, only invites. Doubt knocks loudly, Logic kicks down the door and sits in your favorite chair. Faith waits on the outside, but has the key to a whole new house, and simply wants you to come visit. Faith knows you won’t understand if he shows you pictures or uses your own descriptions. It’s not adequate.
Hebrews 11:1-2. I know it says it better. But now I just want to remember that I’m naturally going to hear from each five letter word, and one is pretty worried, and one is pretty insistent, and one is quitely confident. My children are asleep now, and not one of them is worried about tomorrow – about a test, or a meal, or a bully, or a mean teacher. They are trusting that tomorrow is going to be another great rollercoaster day. The letters T-R-U-S-T are standing beside me, and they are beginning to show a barely visible smile.