Friday, September 07, 2012

Doubt and Expectation

I knew it would come eventually.... I didn't think it would come quite so soon, nor did I really possess a language for it, but eventually I knew it would come--the overwhelming concoction of doubt, confusion, and dislocation.

You see, in San Diego, Amanda and I had a pretty good thing going. Though I was being somewhat underpaid and though we had to live in my parents' guest-house for cheap rent, we were in a good church and we had enough. We were "comfortable," as they say. There was something mysterious about our call to New Jersey, to Princeton Theological Seminary, and we weren't sure how it was going to work out but we were sure as can be that God was calling us and would therefore take care of us. I don't think people at home quite understood the uncertainty that was before Amanda and me. Heading off to Princeton hardly sounds, to many, like an act of faith. For us, it most certainly was, and as with any act of faith I knew that with it would come moments of doubt and struggle. I had imagined that sometime near midterms I might find myself asking, "what am I doing here!? God, are you really the one who's behind all this? Can I really even trust you?"

Though I don't wish to lay out every detail, for you to understand what we're feeling, it will suffice to say that we've felt somewhat beat up here in our first few days in Princeton--being on the other side of the country from family and friends is hard enough. Conversations concerning financial aid have not gone the way we'd hoped, conversations concerning advanced placement and transferal of units have not gone as hoped, furnishing our house has been a far greater task than we'd anticipated, and our immersion into a local community has not been as immediate as we'd thought it might... Everything has felt quite rapid and we're feeling somewhat tossed in the waves. In all of this, those creeping feelings of doubt, confusion, and dislocation have done more than just cross my mind.

Have I made a mistake? Can I really trust the God behind all this? Do I really even belong here? These questions have become more real to me than perhaps ever before. And yet I'm reminded of something, now too more real than before--I'm reminded that God loves us not from without nor from any other place but within our doubts, our struggles, our confusions, and our forsakeness. I have often professed with Saint Augustine that “doubt is but another element of faith." Faith and doubt equal faith indeed. Now, I believe that I am learning this more closely to the ground than ever before.

By faith, here in the midst of my doubt, I remember that this promise is still provisional until it comes to fruition, I remember the faithfulness of the God who has brought me to this cross and I hold to the hope that God brings life from death, that God reigns over my circumstances, and that the Holy Spirit has brought us this far. It was going to come eventually and I pray that I am better for it.

I can even look from my own exhaustion at all that there is to love about this place. So much beauty and blessing surrounds us, waits for us. Classes have only just begun and I am... how did they say it at Youth Specialties?... "adventurously expectant."
God of compassionate grace; the dominion, the power, and glory are yours indeed. May we be people of faith, people who cling to you even in the midst of doubt and depression. And in your faithfulness God, do not abandon us, do not lead us far away and forsake us to the darkness but join us in our doubt, in our confusion, and in our dislocation. Be for us, provide for us, and nurture us even now. Even in the name of the crucified Christ. Amen. 

1 comment:

Steve Swope said...

Wes, my friend (and dear Amanda, too), I feel for you. You did indeed take a giant leap of faith! I know a little of what that's like, but I think you have less of a "safety net" than I've ever known - I had a cousin in SoCal, for instance, and everywhere else I've gone has been at least a little familiar. You're definitely in terra incognita! Don't know what your living situation/location is like, but I remember being married in seminary and not feeling as "connected" to student life as the singles, or as I did in college - tougher to develop relationships with peers. Hang in there, and be very good to each other. You'll "arrive" at last, I'm confident.