When I was about 19, I experienced the first accusation against my beliefs. My boyfriend and I (the same boyfriend who had accepted Jesus into his heart) were on a double date with his uncle and the uncle’s wife. We were riding in the uncle’s car. They were in the front seat, we were in the back. We must have been talking about religious stuff, I don’t remember, but what I do remember is what the uncle’s wife said to me. She turned around and spoke to me directly, “You just believe that because that’s what you’ve been told your whole life.” And I was like, “nuh-uh!”. It was dark and I was glad, because I know I turned twelve shades of red. I can still feel the sweaty, heart racing, anxiety of that moment. It was controlled panic though, because I needed to defend my beliefs. But deep down I knew there was truth to what she was saying.
I had never heard any theology other than what my Baptist Church taught, and she was Catholic, and I was taught that we alone had the whole truth and Catholic’s did not have it quite right. I believed that because that was what I was told. I did not consider anything other than what I was told, because I was told that what I was being told was the truth with a capital “T”— and, if I didn’t believe it I would spend eternity in conscious torment in the fires of hell. I believed this, but it was not because God had revealed it to me personally, it was because I was scared not to believe it, and I was scared to question it.
Don’t get me wrong, I had felt the love of God personally, but I believed the theology I was taught simply because it was the only theology I had ever heard. In this respect my faith was not really my own faith. It was inherited from my elders and, dang it, “God doesn’t have grandchildren”. I could remedy this, I thought. I could make it my own. I had no intention, at all, of changing what I believed, but I could make that belief my own. I just didn’t know how to do that. Try harder? Try harder at what? Maybe I could just believe stronger in what I had been told all my life…like be more serious or more emotional…like to the point of tears. Maybe that would somehow make me more sure of what I believed…you know, just feel it deeper.
They used to tell us to be sure, to have strong faith and to be certain of our salvation. I have heard it said lately that doubt is not the opposite of faith—certainty is.