Welcome In, Doubt


christina bacino - welcome in doubt-3By Christina Bacino | Facebook

In the throes of acute PTSD, I woke one morning to find God had left me. Eight years of working with trauma victims, most of whom were raped or trafficked, and the darkness of it all suddenly descended on me. Like a light-switch turned off, my brain could not conceive of God’s reality, let alone God’s goodness. They say trauma affects the decision-making part of the brain–the pre-frontal cortex. So there I found myself, completely de-converted against my will. Despair swallowed me whole.

As a child, faith came naturally to me. I lay in bed at night and prayed for all of the sick, poor, and homeless people of the earth. As I grew older, my intimacy with the Lord grew as well. My work forced me to wrestle and come to terms with some of the hard questions of who God was, why bad things happen, and the reasons to pray. Yet, there I was, in my darkest hours on earth, and I felt helpless to believe anything.

In the following weeks and months, my doubts in God and His existence grew louder as well-meaning friends and family sought to comfort me with faith-based answers and encouragement. And my little secret grew bigger and bigger within me–I don’t believe anymore. How could I possibly explain this to people? Their answers and logic seemed ludicrous to me. I felt so alone.

Doubt, within Christian circles, has never been celebrated or received with open arms the way perseverance, faith, and hope have. Yet the more I dig into doubt, the more I realize that it is actually the birthplace of faith, and the breeding ground of conviction. I’m not talking about a docile belief here, but a zealous doubt; one that won’t stop until it lands on a truth, a truth worth dying for, even if it is difficult to accept.

I finally got up the courage to start sharing my doubts with those who felt safe. My little secret was out. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t as alone as I thought. Still, I have never doubted more than I do now. But truth has always been important to me, so important that I tattooed it on my body long before my doubts surfaced with my trauma. And though my journey is rugged and unsure, I’m curious to see if God shows Himself the way He did to Thomas. Even if He doesn’t, I find encouragement in the journeys of the saints who went before me like David, Peter, Moses, and John the Baptist; many of whom came face-to-face with the darkness of doubt and believed beyond what was reasonable, explainable, or comfortable.

So often in Scripture we are asked to remember. That word, “remember,” has come to mean a lot to me in this season of searching for truth. Because when I’m really honest with myself, I know my heart and soul give a palpable “yes” to a God my mind can’t reach right now.

I remember sitting with the poor in spirit in the townships of South Africa and the Syrian refugee camps of Iraq, and feeling God ever so close. I remember the deep depression and mental torment of post-traumatic stress, and my only comfort being found in listening to worship music. I remember that little girl who used to lie in her bed at night and know God was hearing her while she prayed for those less fortunate. I remember walking the streets of Assisi, Italy, and experiencing the unexplainable peace that permeates the city of St. Francis. And with each little memory, that light switch flickers, and I know faith is being stoked again.

To those out there facing doubts, I encourage you to offer them hospitality. Though the journey can be dark at times, doubt is not an unfortunate thing. It pushes us to seek truth and it expands our hearts to grasp what our minds can’t always comprehend. It is a rite of passage into a faith that is growing, divine, fierce, and honest.

About Christina:

Christina BacinoI am equal parts serious and funny. If you hang out with me long enough, you’ll know I believe almost all scenarios in life can refer back to a Friends episode. I am a big introvert, who is very often mistaken for an extrovert. If you can’t tell already, I am also a personality test junkie. I love them! I’ve come to know that loyalty, honesty, sacrifice and compassion are a few of my trademarks. In 2008 I moved to Cape Town, South Africa to be a missionary, and I ended up staying for eight and half years. Most of that time was spent in effort to liberate those affected by human trafficking. Those years, those stories, and those faces have shaped me into the person I am today. I moved to Hawaii a year ago to remember again what I had spent those years in Cape Town fighting for — the freedom to enjoy life. Now I spend most of my time outside, writing, reading, swimming and generally enjoying all of the “Aloha” these islands have to offer.

  • We, the doubters, are out there Christina. I’m hoping with your brave words we’ll be more open to share our doubts because, as you say, that is where faith begins. I think we’re in the same tribe.

    • Christina

      Thanks for sharing Debby! You are not alone! And yes, I truly believe doubt, when we pursue it to the dust, makes our faith stronger.

  • I’ll be pondering long this idea of “a zealous doubt.” And the goodness of God who meets us in our doubt and begins a new thing in our hearts.
    Blessings to you. Christina.

    • Christina

      Yes to God doing a new thing! Thank you Michele.

  • Amanda Dick

    “Because when I’m really honest with myself, I know my heart and soul give a palpable “yes” to a God my mind can’t reach right now.” – This is so important. Thank you.

    • Christina

      Thank you for reading Amanda

  • I love this, because what has always held my faith together in seasons of doubt and despair has been my remembrance: remembrance of how God has loved me in the past, remembrance and seeing how he is working in others lives, and remembrance of the saints in the Bible and times they doubted and still God was there. I mean just read some of Israel’s story and we can recognize that God will fiercely love us even as we doubt Him.

    • Christina

      Juanita, exactly! Seeing the saints of the Bible have their own wrestle with doubt is so encouraging. He is faithful when we are faithless…I am banking on this!