Growing up, I always wanted to have the right answer. Most of it stemmed from the desire to be praised by adults, whether they be my mom, a teacher, or someone else in authority. I was the kid that never raised my hand unless I was absolutely sure I was going to be correct. Fortunately, I’ve mostly grown out of this. In most situations, I’m not afraid to ask questions, even if there’s a chance that people will think I’m foolish. I’m now able to recognize that asking questions is what brings me the knowledge I desire.
When I say I’ve mostly grown out of this (I can still be reserved in new environments), there is one crucial area in which I’m still tentative about asking questions: my spiritual life. My first semester in Scriptures class left me with doubts aplenty. I have less “right” answers than I’ve ever had before. So much so, that I’m quite overwhelmed at my lack of certainty and feel stuck. I wouldn’t outright admit to being afraid to ask spiritual questions, but I am. After almost 35+ years of simply believing everything I’ve ever been taught about God and the Bible, it’s been extremely difficult to start thinking for myself. I almost feel like I’m always one step away from heresy. After all, no one ever wakes up and decides to become a heretic. It just kind of happens when you voice your beliefs and others decide you’re wrong and brand you as such. And then burn you at the stake. Or in the case of the late John Wycliffe, your bones are dug up from your grave and then burned at the stake.
It is this fear (of being a heretic, not being burned at the stake) that has paralyzed me in my thought process. I am not sure where to turn. Most Christians would tell me to just read the Bible and let the Holy Spirit guide me. The problem is that is what I’ve done my entire life and I think I need something different (I feel heretical even writing this – see? I told you). I need the words of someone who has been where I am to encourage me on my journey and tell me to revel in it. To tell me that it’s ok to not know what you believe. To help open my eyes to new ways of thinking. To encourage me to challenge everything I’ve been taught. To tell me that my questions don’t make me a heretic.
To get out of my current state of paralysis, I need to find these voices in my life. Maybe I’ll start with this.
“The key to wisdom is this – constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting we are led to question, by questioning we arrive at the truth.”– Peter Abelard