There is a certain time of year that anyone who has ever been employed before has come to both fear and dread – and no, I’m not talking about tax season.
What I’m talking about is the age-old performance review.
Yes, I DID see you grimace just then. I am yet to meet a single human being who enjoys performance reviews. Now, I could go into the psychology of them and point out all the ways they are truly inaccurate and a horrible measure of capability or competence, but even without trekking down that path, they still remain pretty awful.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of having to justify to people why I am qualified for the position I was hired for, and about all the ways I intend to grow over the next period (like I can even make a definitive decision on what I’m having for dinner!), gives me such anxiety. Maybe it’s because, like most human beings, I am naturally inclined to focus on everything I’m not so good at instead of on my strengths. Not only do I dislike talking about myself and my strengths and weaknesses, but as private of a person as I am, I can’t deal with people discussing me either.
But really, you hired me – so YOU tell me what’s so great about me lol.
Every year when performance eval time comes around, I find myself stuck behind my computer for days trying to figure out what to tell management so I can keep my job lol. And it’s a time where I find myself questioning my self-worth and my abilities, and if I’m even where I’m supposed to or want to be.
It’s quite frustrating.
But this post isn’t about work performance reviews. It’s about how I’ve come to the realization that every so often, I find my faith under review as well.
Every year around Easter – like clockwork – I begin to question my faith.
I begin to question if God is really good, if His promises are really true, if He can do what He said He will and whether or not going so H.A.M. for Him is even worth it. If we’re being completely honest, there are people who were less dedicated to the ’cause’ and seem to be doing pretty well – many much better than I am. There are times that my life looks like a complete cess pool and I can’t see God anywhere in the midst of it. There are honestly days where I ask, why bother? Why even do all this? Why forgo the sex and copious amounts of partying and libation? Why not do drugs for once in my life (because YOLO)? Why not just be like everyone else and say whatever I want to say, whenever I want to say it? Lord knows I have an opinion on everything – why not just share it?
A vocal Christian who questions her faith??? Shocker, I know. I used to be shocked by it too. In fact, it often made me sick to the point of depression; the thought of possibly giving up on the one thing that mattered to me most – the one thing that had been my banner, the one thing in which I had placed all my trust. It was like that sick feeling you get after dating a guy for half a decade without a proposal and having to ask yourself some hard questions about whether or not the relationship is going anywhere. Ending a relationship after 5 years of faithfulness and commitment??? It would scare the living daylights out of anyone, and it definitely scared me too.
But not anymore. I no longer fear my doubts.
I’ve come to realize that we are conditioned to believe that doubt is the opposite of faith. That to doubt something is to express disbelief. But this is not true. Doubt is not the opposite of faith, sight is – because faith is not the assurance of things unknown, it’s the confidence in things unseen.
Paul Tillich, a renowned Christian Theologian once said,
Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.
Miguel de Unamuno, a Spanish essayist, novelist, poet, playwright, philosopher, professor of Greek and Classics said this:
Faith which does not doubt is dead faith.
A Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher named Fyodor Dostoyevsky says this about doubt:
It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.
And I couldn’t agree more, Dostoyevsky.
As I look back on every one of those periods of doubting, when I felt at my weakest spiritually, they were each, ironically I suppose, followed a period where my faith was stronger than ever before. Each time I approached the table of my faith with questions, I came back more convinced and determined than ever before to follow through on my commitment to Christ and dive even deeper into my faith. I went into these periods with a kernel of faith and walked back out with a jumbo-sized movie popcorn box of faith with extra butter.
Throughout the Bible we see people struggle with issues of doubt – doubt of God and doubt of self – but never does doubt disqualify them from God’s goodness or God’s call. If doubt were really the opposite of faith then this would not be possible since without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
Peter walks out onto the waves towards Jesus full of faith, and finds out what we all do in our lives: that doubt easily and quickly creeps in in moments that require great faith. But Peter’s doubt does not leave him drowning. To the contrary, Peter’s doubt incites Jesus to reach out and grab him – to make eye contact with Peter, perhaps in a moment of intimacy that they have never experienced before. Suddenly Peter is brought to a deeper revelation not only of who Christ is, but of who he, Peter, is in relation to Christ.
Moses doubts his qualifications and his call. He thinks He is not up to the task that God is calling him to and that failure is not only possible – it is practically assured. In a moment where we think God’s anger at Moses’ doubt should cause the flames to leap up from the bush and burn him to ashes, God extends to him His right hand – the power of God through his staff to perform miracles. Moses walked into that place as a doubting man, but emerged one of the greatest leaders to ever live.
Even Jesus had his apprehensions, and he was still God’s son, in whom He was well pleased right up until his death. AND he was given the keys to Life and Death.
My faith, like my job performance, is constantly under review, but I do not battle my doubts or worry that they will disqualify me from God’s goodness and promises. I consistently find myself in a friendly tug of war with my doubts that has, each time, drawn me closer to Christ. I no longer fear seasons of doubt – because they push me to dig deeper into His Word, stay longer at His feet, know Him better, and trust Him to do greater.