Coming to grips with doubts in my come-to-Jesus meeting

Lorraine Murray lives in Decatur with a hamster named Ignatius. Her email is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com.

The other day, I took a long look in the mirror and said, “Let’s face it — you’re having a faith crisis.” When my reflection stared back sheepishly and nodded, I told her we needed a come-to-Jesus meeting.

You see, I started out in life as a Catholic, then became an extreme nihilist in college. Basically, I thought there was no one in charge of the universe, no ultimate meaning to anything — and a descent into utter nothingness after death.

I laughed at Jesus and found people who went to church on Sunday unbelievably quaint — until the day, that is, I had a complete change of heart and found myself back in the pews.

Having lived so long with no direction — other than my own whims — I was relieved to embrace the Ten Commandments and other rules that gave life meaning.

I also savored the sensory splendor of Catholicism — genuflecting as a sign of reverence, poignant prayers chanted like fine poetry, bells pealing at the most sacred moment of Mass.

Above all, I exulted that my life fit into a more intricate plan than my limited human mind could ever craft. Still, when my husband died, I became so confused that my faith started faltering.

Yes, I still went to Mass — in fact, I started going daily — pored over Scripture and prayed more than ever before. But demonic doubts were stalking me and trying to rip apart the fabric of my faith.

Did I truly believe Jesus was God’s only son who rose from the dead? And did I believe my husband was in another resplendent realm — or had he ceased existing when his heart stopped? And most of all, could I cling to the hope that we would meet again one day?

Throughout the crisis, I could my envision my husband advising, “You have to lean on your faith!” — but the crux of the matter was whether doubt and faith can coexist.

The answer came from Scripture, where I encountered Peter walking toward Jesus through a turbulent sea — and sinking as his faith wavered. I also met the infamous doubting Thomas, who stubbornly sought sensory proof of the Resurrection.

Most compelling was the desperate father in Mark’s Gospel, whose son had been ensnared by a demon since infancy.

The man begged Jesus for help, and the answer came swiftly: “If you can believe, all things are possible to the man of faith.”

For people like me who sometimes are assailed by doubts, the man’s reply is a revelation: “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

You see, that humble confession — which author Flannery O’Connor called the “most natural and most human and most agonizing prayer” in the Gospels — spurred Jesus to heal the son.

In my come-to-Jesus meeting, I answered each question with “yes,” but if future doubts stalk me, I will, like St. Peter, move toward the light of Christ — and trust that when I falter, his hand will steady me.