Doubt, the Uneasy Visitor

He comes, knocking at the door — softly at first, then more insistently.

You can’t just ignore it. He will keep knocking until the knocking turns into pounding, and if you still refuse to answer, he will break in while you are sleeping and steal some of your most valuable treasures. And then he will disappear into the night, never to be found, never forced to relinquish what he stole. You will have to go the long, hard way around to replace it.

So the only option is to answer the door. You can call the police, but he will know if you do, and will vanish into the night. He is good at vanishing.

Speak to him at the door or let him in for a cup of tea. Allow him to take the conversation places where you in your sheltered, cozy little home have never dared to venture. He wants to convince you that he’s right, that the gaps in your knowledge are your downfall, but be cautious. He is biased. Hear him out on your own terms, bring others into the conversation — particularly a certain other Resident of the house. When you face him instead of cowering under the covers, you will discover the chinks in his armor. Sometimes fear of the thing is more pernicious than the thing itself. Doubt is not the bastion of truth, but he isn’t the devil either.

One word of caution: Don’t invite him into your home to stay. Don’t give him his own room, whether in a forgotten little attic corner or in the luxurious guest room. Because that will not be enough for him. He will not be content to stay there, but will want to take over the whole house. Offer him a drink, talk to him, and then send him on his way. He may come back — in fact, he probably will — but the second time won’t be such a shock, and the third, even less so. We all have our burdens to bear.

Don’t be afraid to speak with this uneasy visitor, just make sure he isn’t your only outside influence. Another’s knocks are less insistent, more gentleman-like, but should be equally attended to. Listen to His truth. It’s not always comfortable either. And He should get not only His own room, but free access to the entire house.

Some think that this isn’t the right response to Doubt, that he shouldn’t be “let in” at all, that the heavenly police can and will bind him and take him away while he’s still on your doorstep. And maybe you’re right; feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section. In my next blog, I will unpack this (imperfect) illustration a bit more by sharing some of my own journey with Doubt.

Moments and Seasons

Life isn’t about “those moments”; it’s about living after those moments have come and gone.

Graduating. Traveling abroad. Finding a job. Meeting your favorite celebrity. Getting engaged. Getting married. Having a child. Moving to another part of the country. Changing jobs. Going on vacation. Retiring.

All those moments are milestones in life, but they aren’t life itself. Life is marriage, not the wedding. Life is parenthood, not the birth. These milestones shape who we are, but of themselves they are not us.

I don’t want to be racing through life trying to get to the next milestone, the next “moment.” I want to enjoy each season I find myself in, whether it’s a season I choose voluntarily, or one that’s thrust upon me. Because there’s no wishing them away. Seasons are a part of life, whether they seem to be characterized by beauty or bereavement.

But seasons aren’t static, with all pain and no pleasure, or all pleasure and no pain. Living roots under the dead white frost … rain in a dry place … tremors and shakings where there have been none before … a snowfall in June. Seasons are dynamic, and feelings aren’t forever.

Live in the moments … and live after them.

The Facebook Wood

“This place is too quiet. It’s so — so dreamy. You’re almost asleep. If we once give in to it we shall just lie down and drowse for ever and ever.”

-Polly, The Magician’s Nephew

Facebook is like the Wood between the Worlds in Narnia, which, if you aren’t familiar with the series, is exactly what it sounds like: a forest containing many pools of water and so connecting all sorts of different worlds. Each pool, you will find, will take you to a different world if you jump into it.

When you’re camped in this Facebook Wood, leaning against a thick tree trunk or sprawled in your tent, there isn’t much to do except watch other people get in and out of pools. Of course, there are others who settle there for long periods of time too, but what do you have to talk about amongst yourselves? None of you are doing anything! Much better to jump in the pools yourself than to live vicariously through the accounts of other travelers, who stop in the wood just long enough for a meal and a quick rest. When you’re in this wood for too long, it’s easy to lose track of time, or even yourself.

I will also add that not every pool contains spectacular adventures to foreign lands and far-off kingdoms. For example, I know one in particular that has a couple churches, a little radio station, walking paths in a dry, brownish place, and a few other indistinguishable buildings. The people are nice, and the trees are grand and lofty, but it isn’t the sort of stuff that tales of adventure are written about. And yet, more is going on beneath the surface than meets the eye.

Anywhere where life is truly lived is a place of excitement, a place worth going to.