Faith, doubt, and certainty


My friend Scott recently told me, “The opposite of faith is not doubt – the opposite of faith is certainty.” He says that Mike Gaffney told him that. Anne Lamott writes the same words, only she says that her priest, Father Tom, enlightened her. I don’t know who came up with this idea originally, but whoever he/she was is totally on to something.

I don’t like living in the tension between two extremes. The grey area freaks me out. I don’t even wear the color grey – it’s too indecisive and vague. Choose black or choose white, but for the love of all that is indubitable, DON’T WEAR GREY.

But I am learning that life is lived in the in-between. Rarely is anything certain, for sure, cut-and-dry, or beyond question.

HOWEVER, I certainly hold the following truths to be self-evident:

1) When in doubt, err on the side of generosity.

2) Buy lemonade from every lemonade stand you see, even if you have to pull over your car – and always pay double the price.

3) That very car that you pull over for lemonade should always be a stick shift.

No second-guessing those.

I am uncomfortable in the in-between, but it’s in this place of uncertainty that our faith is tested and grown. Muscles are developed. Our beliefs are stretched and strengthened, and we wind up stronger because of it all. And I am determined to grow my tiny faith muscles as much as I can.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I, like Anne of Green Gables, vacillate between “the wings of enchantment” and “the depths of despair.” Today, I feel strangely optimistic about the world, and what’s in store for me. The Big Trip is calling my name, loud and clear. For all that is unknown in what lies ahead, I am certain that there will be good. I am certain that I will smile. I am certain that I will be surprised and delighted and taught and stretched. I am certain that amazing times will be had.


Because I am certain that today I bought the perfect red dress. [cue the balloons]


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  1. Erin on April 12, 2007 at 7:29 PM

    Annie, I think you are a wonderful writer. Whenever I read something you have written, (previously on your myspace, and now here), I feel like I know you.
    But then I am sad because I really don’t…I feel I wasted the short time we were roommates in that horrible house (that is now several condos). This is making less sense the more I write…in any event I love the way you write, and I wish I knew you better.

  2. Scott on April 12, 2007 at 11:32 PM

    Although I drove a sexy and dangerous 2007 corvette this weekend, it was an automatic. I felt like a little kid who wasn’t tall enough to ride the cool rides at the fair.

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