I am an Ennegram type 1. For those of you who don’t know what that means, the Ennegram consists of nine personality types. Each type is defined by a particular core belief about how the world works. That core belief drives your deepest motivations and fears — and fundamentally shapes a person’s worldview and the perspective through which they see the world and the people around them. I have hated that I am an Ennegram 1 since the first time I failed the test. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you can’t fail a personality test… but Google “Ennegram 1” and then come back and try to convince me I didn’t fail! Type 1s are often called “perfectionists”. My type is known to be principled, purposeful and self-controlled. When I first read that, I read “Basically you’re a boring rule follower, that never has any fun”, however over the years I have grown to laugh at how much of a type 1 I am. I really love living in a black and white world with rules. I am a Type-A girl who really likes organization and processes. I like to be in control of what is happening around me and I like to have a plan.
I grew up with a Dad who also has a lot of “Type 1” tendencies. He taught me that it is important to be certain about what we believe and why. To me, that meant there is an answer for everything and if we don’t have the answer – we can get a book that has the answer! I can’t even count the amount of times I have called my Dad with questions and we have gone down the rabbit trail of books together. I have taken great pride in being certain.
However, the older I get, the more I realize that life simply doesn’t make sense sometimes. In fact, there are times in life that are so senseless there is not enough books or theology to make it make sense. Like in 2017, when we lost a baby that we had dreamed of for years – a baby that we conceived spontaneously without the help of medication. I thought that baby was the answer to our drought. After years of dreaming for a baby, dealing with sickness and than feeling like God told us “to be still” – which meant stopping all medical intervention – I was sure this was our big miracle story.
However, ten and a half weeks after taking a pregnancy test I was getting rolled into a surgery that would complete the miscarriage my body wouldn’t do naturally. I remember waiting for surgery thinking that none of this made sense. This wasn’t how our miracle story was supposed to end. I tried to find answers that explained the loss, however no theology filled the void that was growing in my heart.
What about the time I was diagnosed with a rare disease that still threatens to take my vision? We prayed big prayers, and heard the words “no evidence of disease”, only to have a recurrence just a few months later. Didn’t God heal me? Did He change his mind?
My Dad’s life hasn’t been filled with rainbows and butterflies. While his story is not mine to tell, I have watched him struggle with his own big questions. When he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease years ago, I wanted to scream at God. “Hasn’t he had enough?” Why does someone who has overcome so much, have to face something so hard?
Sure, I learned the “right” answer to explain these situations…. “We live in a fallen world, so bad things happen and will continue to happen until Jesus comes back.” Also, “We can walk in total and complete healing because our healing was paid for on the cross 2,000 years ago.” While these things may be true, there were so many moments that these “right” answers felt so terribly wrong. My situations feel heavy, and giving such “simple” reasons for the cause of them feels downright careless. The more I have walked through infertility, sickness, pain and loss, the more the “right” answers have left me feeling angry.
What is even harder to explain is that in the midst of that anger… in the midst of doubting the very theology I was saying out loud… I found a deeper relationship with God than I have ever had before.
Why did we lose our baby in 2017? I don’t know. Why do I still have evidence of a rare disease? I don’t know. Why is my Dad dealing with Parkinson’s? I don’t know. I won’t ever know the answers to those questions. It’s an incredibly odd thing to not know, and honestly the Type 1 in me is screaming as I type these words. However, not having a black and white answer finally feels okay. In fact, living in that “I don’t know” has given me more freedom than trying to make my pain fit into some crap theology box.
For the past several months, (maybe years) I have been reading more and thinking about things I have never thought about before. I find myself saying “I don’t know” more and more. I have found myself wondering if I need to know and understand everything to trust that God is good? Maybe a better way to say that is… do I need to know and understand ANYTHING to trust that God is good?
I recently read this quote in Peter Enns book “The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs” and it resonated with me:
“When we reach the point where things simply make no sense, when our thinking about God and life no longer line up, when any sense of certainty is gone, and when we can find no reason to trust God but we still do, well that is what trust looks like at its brightest – when all else is dark.”
That quote felt like so much freedom. I literally have told my closest friends that I have no idea what is up and what is down anymore – nothing makes sense to me theologically – but I know that I trust God. Maybe not knowing is when we find pure freedom?
I think a lot of people could misread that quote, or my peace in not knowing, as scary. I have stayed quiet on so many topics as I was terrified that if I shared that I was questioning theologies the Christian circles I was running with held to so tightly – I may be kicked out. Maybe I would be deemed a heretic who twists words, going straight off the deep end to burn in hell. I was afraid that people would stop talking to me – and I would just die alone.
However, I am tired of being quiet. I am tired of being afraid of what people may think of me, while also living in a world that theology that feels wrong and careless is being preached loudly. Sometimes I doubt that what is happening around me is for my good. I wonder what the heck God is up to. I wonder if the theology I have clung to my entire life is correct. Sometimes I wonder if we have gotten it wrong all long. The reality is… it is okay to wonder.
So, I can no longer be quiet. I am no longer afraid of what I may lose. The freedom I have found in saying “I don’t know” is worth sharing. It goes against everything I have learned to cling to for most of my life – but I am throwing up my hands and saying “I don’t know, but I trust You.”
I believe that trust is the only thing that means anything these days. I wonder what would happen if you took a chance and tried to sit with “I don’t know” with me?