I don’t know if there really is a God. I don’t know what happens after we die. I don’t know if heaven is for real or not. I don’t know why there’s so much violence, disease, oppression, and abuse in the world. Nor do I know why there’s so much beauty and abundant life. Naturally I have thoughts on all these things, but I don’t really KNOW. While I trust and live into my beliefs, honestly, these days I find admitting, “I don’t know” is a deeper, kinder, and more spacious way of knowing.
If I really and honestly think about it, how could one definitively know if there’s a God or not? Skeptics and atheists say believers need to “prove” there’s a Deity, in response I think we could easily respond with “prove there’s not”. It seems to me when it comes to the Divine, someone bigger than and beyond ourselves, the categories of prove or disprove and certainty or uncertainty fall apart. God, after all is by definition at least partially beyond our limited intellectual ability to understand and comprehend. Deep thinkers say God doesn’t so much exist, as God calls things into existence; and the Divine isn’t so much a being, as the ground of Being itself. I don’t know about you, but I think I only grasp like 5% of what those truths mean. So, how could we even expect to prove there’s a Creator or know for sure there’s a Source to all Light and Love?
(A selfie of my “I don’t know” face 🙂
Speaking of love and beauty are similar categories. They’re not so much knowable intellectually as they are at a deeper, soul level. When I was going through my last divorce I had some incredibly lonely nights. In my mind I KNEW I was loved by a plethora of people (daughter, parents, sister, bro-in-law, nephews, friends, etc.), YET, as she’d wanted a divorce when I didn’t, I FELT unloved and unwanted at a deeper level. I’d say the former was head knowledge, a truth that had little impact on my being. The latter was heart knowledge, a Truth that affected all of me (even though it was in reality false).
Like Richard Rohr, I think my example on Love applies to all the big mysteries of life. Love, God, infinity, the universe, death, great tragedy/trauma, and beauty are all categories beyond definition, knowing, and understanding. They’re all great mysteries. They’re infinitely knowable. As Father Rohr says: “We must agree to live without resolution, at least for a while. This is very difficult for most people, largely because we have not been taught how to do this mentally or emotionally. We didn’t know we could—or even should.”
In the West, at least, it seems we’ve mistaken faith for intellectual assent and certainty. While those have their places, they are NOT faith as I see it. Faith is a deeper knowing, if it can even be called “knowing”. Faith is trusting the arch of life and reality, hope is believing it’s good, and love is allowing an infilling of my being from another Source. It’s opening myself to something bigger than me, which I name God, so that I can be filled with Light and Love, and thus embody heaven come to earth in my day-to-day life.
Do I know life, reality, and the universe are trending/going toward goodness, toward more love? Or that something joyful awaits us on the other side of death? Heck no! I trust it though. I live like it’s true because it leads to greater wholeness, peace, and love.
Relatedly, one needs look no farther than the news, Facebook feed, a newspaper, or even the lives of people close to us to see there’s all sorts of tragedy and trauma in the world. Why do wars, terrorism, oppression, cancer, hunger, disease, slavery, and abuse continue across the globe … especially if there’s a good God behind us all? I … DON’T … KNOW.
I know when I hear the story of a young boy who grows up to be a terrorist because his family was killed by an errant U.S. bomb, and the leaders he respect tells him he’ll be rewarded for killing infidels, I understand and sympathize with that. I get that. Mr. Rogers said there’s NO ONE you can’t LOVE once you know her/his story, because to know our stories is to know us. Yet, there’s no way I can know the millions and billions of stories that interweave to form the complex reality that is our world.
I don’t know why crappy stuff happens in life … and I trust it’s because Love/God is the Ultimate Reality of the universe and Love gives us space to choose and be us … and I don’t know if I’m right … and I find it leads me to more love, care, and understanding for others … and I could be wrong … and I’m open to listening to and being changed by the ways others make sense of life.
It seems to me, when it comes to these big life, the universe, and everything issues, when we start with uncertainty, it leaves more space for others. It opens the doors to friendly disagreement. It creates a place where we can learn and grow from each other, where we’re less divided and more united. “I don’t know” leads to greater connection and more love.
Why do I believe in God? Why do I think reality is going somewhere amazing? Why do I follow Christ? And why do I think Love is the most powerful force in the universe, when I’m not certain about these things? When I don’t know them as facts? I find trusting a Divine goodness, hoping we’re ALL on a long journey of amazingness, and opening myself up to the Way and Reign of Love makes life more wonderful for me and everyone else I encounter here and now (which is really all we have, don’t you think?).
Additionally, while I can’t put words to it: I feel these Truths more deep inside me than intellectually. I’d call it soul or spirit knowing, as opposed to intellectual knowing. Light and Love as the guiding forces of Ultimate Reality rings true in my bones, it quickens my heart … and I may be wrong.
These days, when it comes to the biggies, the topics of God, love, tragedy/trauma, infinity, death, and beauty, I find engaging myself and others with an “I don’t know” is a kinder, more spacious, more peaceful, and more loving approach to things. What do you think? What’s your experience here?
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Grace and peace,