The Inconsistencies of My Heart

If you’re feeling discouraged, left out or abandoned by God, unheard or unnoticed, this post is for you.  It’s one of my journal entries from this month, and I wrote it as though God were speaking it to me…I believe He impressed it on my heart and I hope it lifts you up and challenged you as well.


“I AM unchanging- unfailing- my thoughts beyond tracing out.  You sit in your unanswered prayer- your diabetes- and ask if I hear you, wonder if I care, doubt my love.  Yet I’ve told you that my love and your pain are not mutually exclusive- I AM here IN your pain, through the fire, near in your broken-hearted moments, seasons, journeys.  For your own peace I promised you truthfully that you’d find trouble here, but my presence in unending measure.  For those who wait.  Remain in my love.  Seek me first.  Acknowledge me.  Love me with your heart, soul and mind.

You accuse me of inconsistency- but I’ve never promised you safety and ease- your claims about my inconsistency reveal the truth of YOUR heart, not mine.

My Child- let me ask you this: When you come to Me in song- when you tell Me ‘nothing you desire compares with Me’… that I’m ‘all you need’… that you’re ‘desperate for Me’– why do you cry out the next moment in despair over your circumstances?  Have you ever asked yourself about your inconsistencies? How your words before me are fickle?

Dear one, am I enough for you, no matter what?  Do you desire me more than being fixed right now?  Do you trust that my love really does have your best at heart?

I know it will take time for you to be stripped of your fear and doubts and struggles.  You are human, after all.  And while you’re wrestling, know that I AM here, all love, waiting…pursuing you.  Though you doubt, remember that I died for you and there’s not greater love I could show you than that.

Can you trust that love right where you are today?”


What are you struggling with today?  Do you have prayers that remain unanswered?  I know it’s hard to share our most vulnerable hurts, but feel free to vent in this space.  And if you’ve found that whisper of God’s hope and love in the midst of your pain, I’d love it if you’d post what God has spoken to your heart!  May we continue to encourage one-another. 

Inside Chronic

Chronic.  If you’ve ever been diagnosed with something “chronic”…ongoing, possibly worsening over time…it changes you.  The simple fact of living with something that will not go away UNTIL death- that’s hard to embrace.  Puts a different spin on life.  Though oddly, in embracing my chronic I’ve embraced my mortality and that demands I live a bit more focused, more grounded in seeking something that will outlast this broken body.

It leaves me dreaming a bit more about heaven- about a time when there won’t be tubes or equipment tethered to me- freedom.

Chronic is just so daily though.  And as a result, if you have something chronic, chances are you get tired of telling people that you’re overwhelmed.  You might tell people you’re having a “bad day”, an “off season”…but sometimes it has just been a bad long many years.  Not all bad.  But a stress and a strain that wears you thin and you don’t know how to tell people because it underscores all of life, not just bits and pieces.  And you’d like to be able to tell people that everything you complained about last week “got better”….but unlike a cold or a teething kid, chronic doesn’t hold hope of going away.

And then there’s the fear- fear when things get worse, fear when you feel out of control of things in your body that others take for granted.

And guilt…because whatever is affecting you most affects those closest to you.  My all too frequent high numbers make it difficult to parent well at times- it adds to irritability, to stress, like a static chaos frequency running constantly in the back of your head.  And as much as I own that I have plenty of faults as a wife and parent as it is, sometimes I give in to the overwhelmed feeling and my family absorbs that.  And I hate feeling like “Mom’s chronic” is all going to come out in a therapy session when they’re older.  (Along with some vague memory of me yelling directions from inside the bathroom.  But for the love, can your question wait 3 minutes?)

And God…well…chronic will put Him to the test too.  Because there’s an awful lot of verses that sound pretty rosy until God isn’t changing your circumstances.  Chronic has brought me to wrestle with God more than anything else and it forces me to confront whether my God IS good, whether He is big enough, whether He loves me.  Whether He really has a plan for my good.  Maybe we don’t get to the bottom of those questions without some pain and suffering.  Somedays I know, even in the rain, that God is beyond good, beyond any love I know…and other days…like today…I just want to give up and ask why He seems to have left me alone.  Those days I find myself feeling too drained to trust, and I give God a bit of a defiant “Your move” look.

And I like to be strong; I want to be someone that others can go to for support. Yet I assume we all hit those moments where we just want to hide and hope someone will find us and pull us out.  And I’m so grateful for those friends in my life, even if it doesn’t fix it for good.

So where to land- maybe you’re in chronic land too… maybe you have type 1 diabetes like me…or maybe it’s depression or PTSD, Crohn’s, MS, Celiac or so many others.  I just want to let you know I’m here, and I’m not always OK and if you ever need to swap some venting, I’m game.

 

 

My “Awkward Christian Moment”

Every year our adoption agency hosts a summer picnic with an exotic-to-us playground, food treats galore, and the whimsical highlight for my kids: Derek the magician.  (AMAZING every year)

This year, just before the magical performance, one of the picnic-goers raffled off a couple of truly beautiful miniature fairy gardens.  And I, rare-winner-of-anything, got picked, and wasn’t even paying attention.  My daughter ran over to alert me and proudly skipped up to the table to collect our prize- a mossy, little bowl of life, topped off with a tiny Buddha.

The woman smiled at my daughter, pointing out a little scroll of paper, daintily rolled up near a walnut.  “You write your wish on that paper, and little Buddha here will take care of it for you.”

Conversation Starter
 Spiritual Conversation Starter

 

And I had a moment which I can only refer to as an “awkward Christian moment.”

See, I teach my kids about God.  I explain life to them as I understand it, and I’ve experienced it.  And to some extent, I think we all either raise our kids with the values and beliefs we grew up with, or we branch away from what we’ve grown up with and intentionally teach our kids differently.

But how do we allow our kids to experience other cultures- other religions- other ideas- in a healthy way?  How can we teach them what our heart for them is, without ignoring other beliefs, without breeding a sense of superiority, hatred, or suspicion towards other people and cultures?  Moreover, how to we give them freedom to test what they believe in the crucible of life.

That little Buddha bowl of life spawned a conversation with my daughter later on.  Probably not my most polished moment.  But I hope something positive.

And I talked to her again about God, and prayer- about bringing God all the things we need help with. And I said it out loud, but my heart felt fake just then.  See, at that moment I was struggling with my own encounters with God.  I was waiting on an answer that wasn’t coming and boy was it making me look hard at God and confront once again whether or not I’m holding onto something plastic.

Funny.  I had just spoken at my church about this.  I had just told everyone that often we don’t truly encounter genuine God until “our circumstances contradict our expectations of God.”  I said this because I’ve experienced that.  I’ve gotten mad at God or felt hopeless and He has proven to eclipse even my struggles.  He has shown who He REALLY is when I stop acting like everything is fine.

And, of course, I worked through all that like a champ, and now I can help other people and won’t ever have false expectations of God again.  I’ll never need to doubt the foundation of my belief because me and God have an understanding now…right God?  Wink, wink.  Nudge, nudge.

Or maybe not.  Maybe I’m not one of those people who gets to learn something once.  Maybe none of us gets to be one of those people.  And maybe part of peeling away the plastic beliefs, means I’m going to constantly have to reaffirm whether God is big enough for me- real enough for me- when my diabetes makes me want to kick and shake my fist at God- when depression stalks me and threatens to devour my courage and joy- when I can’t even see where to put my foot next on this climb.

No matter what you believe- the hardest situations in life are what call our deepest beliefs into question.  But I still believe- yes, even through my week of “why?”- that a Presence beyond and inexplicably intermingled with my own fleeting story, emerges from my dark places.

And so I pass that on to my kids, even when I don’t have all the answers.  And as friends have wisely suggested, I use even those “awkward Christian moments”- those places where people don’t see eye to eye with me spiritually- as conversation starters- something my kids ultimately need to work through personally when they’re finally confronted with their own places of pain and disappointment.

What about you?  What have your disappointments and struggles taught you about what you believe, and how do you pass that on to others around you?

 

The Heart of “Gray Faith”

So let me start by saying, YES, I’m posting a mock-up picture of the cover of my book at the end of this blog as promised.  (Thanks to so many of you who were awesome enough to give me some feedback about my book title!)  But don’t be like kids that open the present without reading the card first……….. Based on your awkward silence, I’m pretty sure most of you just cheated and peaked anyway.  I forgive you, mostly because I suspect that the picture might appear next to my blog link anyway. So much for the element of surprise.

Anyway…as we’re closing in on roughly a month till publishing, I just want to share a bit of my heart for the book with you.

Gray Faith started out as a journey to write my story, but I’m realizing it’s quickly becoming a quest to find out about YOURS.  The more people I encounter, the more I’ve found that everyone has a story of searching, asking, digging.  I’m constantly marveling at how the uniqueness of our stories always seems to intersect in the quest for genuine, for love.

I’ve found that people actually respond better to messy honesty than plastic perfection.  As my friend Kathy recently said about life in general; “We are tired of being advertised to.”

We want answers, but not platitudes.  We don’t want some quick bandage statement to make us feel better for today.  Right?  We want something solid that we can stand on, not just in the sunshine, not just in the rain, but when the flood is completely surrounding us and the downpour isn’t letting up.

My faith has given me hope, but I had to test that hope in the fire of questions, in an honest wrestling with God.  My journey has felt to me at times like a divine experiment.  Maybe your story is different from mine, but I believe that for all of us, our most genuine belief is often forged through times of uncertainty and struggle.

I recently came up with a possible back cover “blurb” for the book.  (Or whatever technical word authors use for blurb.)  People, I panicked over this because, Lord knows, I don’t have the gift of “succinct”.  But I’ll share this with you now because I’m hoping this idea resonates with you.  And even more, I’m hoping that soon I’ll get to read a whole bunch of your own stories of gray faith, wherever you are at:

Is your faith more like a script or an experiment?  Knowing all the right words and actions might make us feel good at first, but does it have any power to change real life?  Is it big enough for broken people, a deeper purpose, suffering and uncertainty?  

What if all of the answers we know so well are keeping us from really experiencing the God we claim to follow?  

Gray Faith is the story of the questions and struggles that taught one pastor’s daughter to trade in good Christianity for something messy but genuine.  It’s an invitation to bring your own questions and imperfect stories and find that you aren’t alone.  

It’s OK for faith to be a journey where we learn a little at a time and still make mistakes.  It’s OK to ditch the script and find God in the questions.”

Original Artwork by Jeffrey Burr

(I hope you enjoy my husband’s awesome design!  The man is amazing.  I simply ask that you don’t post the picture yet aside from re-posting the blog, until I’m able to finalize the picture and publish the book!  Thanks so much for your ongoing support and encouragement.)

  

 

 

A Nightlight For the Dark

This past week I had a dark day.  Not just a day where you lose your car keys and burn the toast.  It was a day that brought me to my knees.  You know?  I felt defeated and depressed in every way; mentally I was off, a writing entry I’d submitted was rejected, my Mom and go-to person for venting was in the middle of her own emotional turmoil, my blood sugar levels were crazy elevated for no-good-reason (I’m a type-1 diabetic), and I found myself completely losing it and yelling at one of my kids (and not the borderline yelling that many of you think I’m not capable of going past).  I was in that zone somewhere between “I’m a massive failure” and “Why isn’t God doing something?”

At the end of the day I just wanted to go and ugly cry, and duke it out with God, but I had to leave the house to “be a leader” somewhere.  Really?  Who decided that I’d reached the emotional maturity to lead anything?  Who decided that I’m even mature enough to parent tender children when I’m prone to selfishness, losing perspective when the balls I’m juggling begin to drop all around me?

Dark days make me confront the absolute brokenness and weakness that I inhabit in this body.  I can’t seem to control my health any more than my anger and I long for something that is big enough to wrap up all that’s wrong with me, with the world, and fix it.

And let me say, I believe in a God who is the answer, but in those dark moments I have to ask…

“Why are we still waiting?  God are you really big enough, powerful enough, in the middle of my unraveling and ugliness, in the midst of disease that has not been fixed and may never be?  What’s the point of stars shining night after night, a world spinning redundantly, when death is at our doors, and hope seems to elude us?”

But there’s a strange gift in my darkest days.  What we believe when the sun is shining is nice- what we believe through our darkest moments is what really defines us.  Sometimes I think I have to confront the full force of my fears and failures in order to know that God is still there.  Maybe the dark forces my beliefs to bleed through a pinhole…and somehow the light is more evident when surrounded by night.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Even when I’m so torn as to question and doubt, there is something of His love that I just can’t escape.

And as I grasp for a verse to make everything OK, maybe there isn’t always one.  But I’ll share this, perhaps more as a mantra for the dark days than as a quick-fix for the broken:

Psalm 73: 26*

My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

Yes our bodies may not work as they should- yes our emotions, actions and hope may crumble- but God remains my constant and my gift.  No matter what?

(No matter what.)

 

*Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

 

 

The Ezekiel Effect

I like to think of God’s “attractive” attributes: loving- kind- merciful- benevolent. I like the verses that say God “plans to give us a hope and a future”, not to harm us. (Jeremiah 29:11) Or “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). That “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) or that he is an “everpresent help in times of trouble”, our “refuge and strength” (Psalm 46:1).


When I go to pray, I like to think of all the Biblical references to answered prayer- amazing instances of God coming through for His people- miraculous feats of power or undeserved moments of abundant blessing.


Tell me the stories of how David slayed Goliath, how Hannah gave birth to three sons and two daughters after giving up Samuel to God, how God parted the sea for the Israelites or gave them mana in the dessert. I want to read how God used Elijah to pray down fire, or how God rescued Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the furnace. I want to read about people being healed, Lazarus being raised from the dead, water being turned into wine, a storm being stilled, and that Jesus multiplied loaves and fishes for thousands with merely a prayer of thanksgiving to His Father.


I sometimes take all these parts of the Bible to mean that if I just trust in God, my negative circumstances will get better; all the things I’m praying about will be answered (the way I want them to be), and God wants to honor my faith and obedience by blessing me as I request.


But even though I know those positive stories of victory and miracles aren’t the only ones in the Bible, sometimes I’m still surprised (dare I say, offended?) when I stumble on a story that looks very much to me like God just doesn’t care.


This is precisely what happened as I was reading through the Old Testament and bumped into the story of Ezekiel. He was a prophet to the Israelites who at this time were pretty much ignoring God and anyone who spoke for Him.  It didn’t help that God mostly told Ezekiel to prophesy that there would be disaster if they didn’t repent and obey.  Plus, God asked Ezekiel to do all these weird things to symbolize what He prophesied.  So God has Ezekiel building a diorama of Jerusalem using a block of clay, and using little battering rams and ramps to show how God would let the enemy besiege Jerusalem. (That doesn’t get you a seat with the cool kids at lunch.) Oh and at one point God commands Ezekiel to use human feces as fuel to cook his food. Fortunately God honors Ezekiel’s request to use cow dung instead. Still, if you think your 9-5 is bad…


But here’s the kicker. And I literally cried when I read it. Ezekiel 24:16-18 says that God told Ezekiel: ” ‘with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead’…so I [Ezekiel] spoke to the people in the morning and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I had been commanded.”



WHAT??!! God takes Ezekiel’s wife- his delight- away as another elaborate metaphor for the stubborn Israelites.  And Ezekiel isn’t supposed to grieve. Oh, and he obeys anyway.


So what the heck do I do with that??


Well, obviously I want to explain it away. Because God is a good God and a good God wouldn’t do that without an obvious reason.  Right?  Was it something Ezekiel did?? But clearly Ezekiel didn’t do anything wrong- he was probably one of the few Israelites actually obeying God at the time. Did God give Ezekiel abundantly more family for his trouble, like He did with Job?? Well, the Bible doesn’t mention it. Fine then…um… well surely at least his wife’s death wasn’t in vain- SURELY God knew that if poor Ezekiel’s wife could just die, then all the Israelites would get it through their thick heads what was going on, and God would spare thousands more people through her death.


BUT NO!! Not in the short run anyway.  The Israelites weren’t going to change- they weren’t going to repent and listen. In fact, it seems the wife’s death was just to get the Israelites attention, so they would LISTEN to Ezekiel….so that when the prophesied disaster came upon the Israelites they would know that God is the Lord.  (Ezekiel 24: 27) Well isn’t there a less dramatic way to make that point?  The whole thing seems very disheartening.  Like Ezekiel and his wife were just pawns…like God didn’t care.


To be honest, when I read this passage I was in the middle of feeling kind of crappy about life, and I honestly was kind of mad at God for that.  Well this just put me over the edge.  Ask my mother- I sent her a very bizarre Ezekiel text that day.  And even as I write part of me still struggles, but I keep coming back to this idea:


God is God. He is the Great I AM. He is the creator of the world. He is HOLY. Psalm 89:11 says “The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it.” So first of all, I have to get to a place where I realize that if God is creator, if He is…well, God- then at a most basic level I have to concede that He has a right to do what He wants, even if I don’t always like it. A Holy God doesn’t really have to explain Himself.


So God is Holy-and yes that could be a stand alone reason to follow Him.  But if that is the only reason to accept His sovereignty in my life then everything becomes sort of robotic- perfunctory- lifeless.


Thankfully, if I look at the whole of the Bible I’d say that God does care very much for His creation. (Replay all those verses from the beginning!) God is Love from his first interaction with Adam and Eve in the garden, to the way He shows mercy to the Israelites time and again, to his overarching plan to rescue humanity through the ultimate unthinkable sacrifice of His Son. So somehow God is both Holy creator…and good and loving.  Better to us than we deserve, even.  That is a God that deserves my devotion on His own merits, but chooses to SEEK me anyway…chooses to give grace to His created.  


So how do I still trust when God does things that don’t seem loving? I think it starts with keeping both God’s holiness and love in mind simultaneously as I look at life.  Then, I have to acknowledge that God’s thoughts are beyond my understanding.  Isaiah 55:8 God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” So could God do something that seems unloving in our eyes, but is part of God’s larger story of love and redemption? I believe yes. I also have to remember that God often does things for “His name’s sake”… and there is nothing wrong with that.  If I expect Him to start doing things for “Carrye’s name’s sake” or “Bob’s name’s sake”- I mean- it would be silly.  It would only make sense if I were God’s peer.


Second, God did not create sin.  He did not cause brokenness, corruption, shame, and injustice.  Those are all things that came out of the fall…precisely BECAUSE God gave man free will.  The choice to follow or not. The choice to love Him or not.  So yes, in a perfect world, there would be no death, no sadness, no resistance to following God.  And one day, that world will exist.  (Revelation 21:4)  Short of a complete overhaul of the world, we will certainly experience trouble. (John 16:33)  Can God use bad things to further His ultimate plan?  Absolutely.  Does He cause them?  Is that even the right question?


Maybe this sums up what I want to say:
In the movie “Stranger than Fiction”  (2006) Will Ferrell plays Harold Crick, an ordinary man who begins to hear in his mind the voice of a woman narrating his life.  *spoiler alert*  As the movie continues Harold realizes that he is the main character in a book that an author is currently writing- and everything that she types up in her book happens to Harold in real life.  Unfortunately, he finds out the author is planning to kill him off, and tries to find her to make her stop writing.  In the end, she lets Harold read the final pages of her book before she types them- the story of how he will die- and he decides that the book is perfect and beautiful and he tells her to finish it even if it means that he dies.  


I’ve been thinking about this movie and how it relates to how I feel about God.  I don’t think I WANT to say to God, “Do absolutely whatever you want with my life.  It is my joy just to be part of the beautiful story you are writing.”


And so I kind of sulk.  And mope.  And act like it’s a bad thing that God wants things to go His way.  And think there’s no way to tell if it is even worth it to follow Him.  Maybe it’s a crap shoot.  

But, bottom line.  I believe God was, is, and always will be.  I believe He created the world and all of humanity.  I believe that He very much loves us- to the extent that He sent His Son to die to redeem us all.  I believe that He is Holy, Perfect- and therefore all that He does is Righteous.  I know that even my love for Him is only a result of His love for me.  So I can wrestle all I want with my place in relation to Him, but it doesn’t change who He is.  And if I want to follow Him as Jesus asks, I must “deny myself” and “take up my cross daily” (Luke 9:23).  I pray that God will bring me to the place where I freely say, “It is my joy just to be part of the beautiful story you are writing.”  No matter what.

Doo-Be-Doo-Be-Doubt

It has been quite some time since my last post.  It is mostly the lack of motivation to write because I have no lack of things to write about.  I mean really, do I talk about the great home-school vs. public school debate, my ever growing disdain for things like quinoa or licorice; or more universal topics like how we all sneak around those pesky McDonald’s coupon rules (only one per visit!) by circling the drive-thru or splitting up the family to pay inside (or both).     

But I won’t talk about any of that this time.  Because one thing is sort of pressing on me most.  
I’ve been talking with a friend lately about faith in general.  In the back and forth I’ve realized one of the most important thing to do in my faith is to question.  I do not mean that I must be constantly doubting my faith.  But there are two, perhaps unspoken, myths about questioning that I’d like to clear up: The first myth is that we should be concerned about having doubts.  Honestly, why are we afraid of or even forbidden to have doubts and questions?  For some it is the fear, deep down, that if we ask too much we will shatter some thin veneer- that we will find out that what we believe is not really true.  For others, it is the fear that doubting at all signifies a false faith.  Maybe you are like me and really believe in God- so completely in Jesus and what He did- but a few places in the Bible make you want to scratch your head and say, “Really God?!?  I don’t get why you would do that.”  Or you believe in God, but feel like you can’t see him in your life lately, or that he hasn’t answered a longstanding prayer.  We worry that if we voice those concerns-to God or others- that somehow we are letting God down- or that we couldn’t even BE the Christian we claim to be if we let any doubts rise up.
So stop a second: why would we want to believe in something that we think is so fragile, so brittle, that it would fall apart at the first pebble of doubt we throw at it?  When we search tirelessly for truth and pull up answers it certainly could lead a person to change their mind about what they believe- or perhaps those answers can lead us to a greater confidence in what we believe.  Either way, how can the search for truth not be worth it?  In the Bible God asks repeatedly for our faith- but He does not demand it mindlessly-thoughtlessly.  Paul, who wrote so much of the New Testament, challenges readers to fully examine the implications of their beliefs in this specific scenario.  He says,
 “12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

Obviously Paul is making a case for faith- a case for Christ’s resurrection- but how does he do it?  He puts himself mentally in a view he disagrees with- that Christ wasn’t raised from the dead- and peels it apart, layer by layer, showing that the foundation of what we believe has to be tested or the whole thing falls apart.  At the end of the day he says, essentially, “You have to really think about what we are believing here and be confident in it- it’s no small matter- if we are wrong we are wasting our lives.”  

Also, forget the notion that “good Christians” don’t doubt.  Peter, the disciple who was the “rock” on which Jesus ultimately said he’d build his church, was also the one who tried to walk on water with Jesus and began to drown because he doubted.  And, as comedian Mark Lowry puts it, if you read some of what David wrote in the Psalms you’d “think he needed Prozac”.  One minute he is confessing his profound, sincere, deep faith and love towards God, another he is pouring out his heartache- his disillusionment with God’s timing or lack of aid.  And God calls David “a man after my own heart;” (Acts 13:22).  Then there’s Job- which is like a whole book of the Bible devoted to a man questioning God.  

I think the one passage that most helps me when I feel vulnerable in my questioning is this story about a man who comes to Jesus to heal his son who is demon possessed.  He says to Jesus, 
“22…But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24)

It has been my prayer on so many occasions- “I believe, just help me with my unbelief.”  Jesus does, in fact, heal his son.  And I believe he knows the man’s heart and sees the work in progress- the wrestling- the searching.  He did not come to condemn that man, or any of us.  
The second myth to clear up is that some people among us (mere mortals) have all the right answers and shouldn’t be questioned.  False.  So absolutely, incredibly false I wish I could stand up right now and scream it loud through a megaphone at midnight to wake everyone up.  Do you want to know something crazy?  Not everything you believe is right.  Not everything I believe is right.  Not everything your college professor says is right.  Not everything your mailman or neighbor or barista says is right.  Not everything your preacher, pastor, Bible study author or worship leader says is right.  I think there is an unbelievable danger in assuming that anything a person with “spiritual authority” says is correct 100% of the time.  Again, God wants us to respect people, to learn with humility and grace, but never to listen without His Spirit, without a discerning ear.  Take this passage- one I’ve come to appreciate personally:  

 “19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good,22 reject every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)

So the word used here is “prophecies” and I feel that can apply to our modern day preaching/ teaching of Scripture from a pulpit or stage, or even to statements made in more casual situations.  There is this sense that we are always listening- never shutting someone out before they speak because we heard one sentence we didn’t like.  But we are also always testing- probing- questioning even- all that is said to make sure it holds up.  If it does, embrace it- if not, get rid of it.
After sharing his heart in a letter to the Philippians, Paul says, ”  All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” (Philippians 3:15)

And that’s my final point.  We all seem to believe we are right and must lead others to our thinking, and sometimes that is what we need to do.  But we also have to consider that we are all growing- all maturing as it were- all in process.  And we have to leave room for the Spirit to work- for God to make clear.  And it is OK if ten years from now I don’t believe just the same things I do today because I was humble enough to question assumptions and allow myself to be changed.  In fact- it is more than OK, it is my hope.