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Dancing with Our Doubts

Maybe it's splitting hairs. Maybe it's jumping through mental hoops. And maybe there's a grain of truth in it all... that doubts and questions, while akin, are not the same. Sure, sometimes doubts hide underneath our questions. But a lot of the time they pop out as wonderings. And wonderings are made out of the same stuff as reflections. And reflecting leads to growth, change, shifting, expanding. It's a joyous thing to learn to dance with our doubts.

We might think of doubts as being indicators of weakness. We may believe doubts are signs of the lack of proof or assurance of something... like friendship or goodness or appreciation or love. Yet much of time our doubts can help us see more clearly. Doubts can be like the sand that rubs and irritates, helping an oyster form a pearl. Preacher and author Frederick Buechner has defined doubts as "the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving."

Many of our doubts have to do with ourselves. Stuff like, Can I do it? Am I enough? Will anyone really love me? Do I matter? Sure, these are questions, but they can function more like diving boards than dead ends. Many questions are dead ends: Why bother? How could that possibly be? Would it make any difference? Questions often give rise to inertia. Doubts lead us to the edges of places where we might discover dance moves we didn't know we had in us.

Perhaps doubts are ultimately indications of our vulnerability. And seeing our vulnerabilities can be scary. Scary isn't comfortable for us. We will often do most anything to avoid being uncomfortable. But dealing with discomfort is part of being a healthy human. Healthy, not in the sense of perfection but of relation.

In her recent book Atlas of the Heart Brene Brown writes, "Most of us were raised to believe that being vulnerable is being weak. [but] there is no courage without vulnerability. Courage requires the willingness to lean into uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure... In a world where perfectionism, pleasing, and proving are used as armor to protect our egos and our feelings, it takes a lot of courage to show up and be all in when we can't control the outcome. It also takes discipline and self-awareness to understand what to share and with whom. Vulnerability is not oversharing; it's sharing with people who have earned the right to hear our stories and our experiences. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage."

We are made for relationship. Sure, it can be scary. But it's the dance for which we are destined. Being in communion with our Creator. Being in community with others of our kind. Doubt that God is interested? Doubt whether others will be accepting? Grab those wonderings by the hand, bring them out into the open, lean in, and dance! All in.

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