This I Believe

THOMAS - 85721-0106, Arizona
Entered on March 5, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.


I believe that life is ambiguous. Life is not planned nor is it controlled or manipulated in any way. Life, as I have come to know it through the lens of Charles Darwin, is precarious at best. From the beginning, it has been all about survival, and my survival is about having the right stuff to exist in an environment not of my own choosing.

I have arrived at this place in time through some considerable happenstance and serendipity. I am a survivor who can trace my lineage back to the very earliest organisms. Their ability to survive has led to a long, 3.8 billion-year, tortuous pathway that is littered with the detritus of my ancestors who did (and did not survive). Even today, my precious health is plagued by problems and faults that lead me to realize that I was not perfectly designed.

As sentient beings, we have the fortunate (or unfortunate) capacity to anticipate things that may or may not happen. Even more problematic, many fantasize that because humans have these mental capabilities, their place on earth (and the universe for that matter), is elevated above that of all else. We have become the products of our own worshipful behavior, as we have idolized human life. Most of us have chosen not to recognize this idolatry—let alone internalize it. Instead, we have preferred to be blinded by our own hubris rather than to face the stark realities of life.

And so today, I no longer hold to expectations of certainty; I refuse to shut out the harsh realities that confront me. I no longer seek to blame others, or even God, for the circumstances in which I find myself. I no longer prefer the comfort of my own “cocoon”, choosing instead to be open to the enormous challenge of life as it presents itself.

Living with ambiguity is a supreme challenge, if only we will be open to it. Coming to this accommodation is an epiphany of sorts—a realization that we must simply learn to deal with life as it presents itself and not dwell in denial because it is an inconvenience. I personally find this liberating because I no longer live with expectations that are frequently dashed with disappointments. It is also liberating because I realize that I am in charge, because life is now about responsibility—responsibility to use the gifts and talents that I have in the most productive ways possible in the short time I am alive. For me, my life is best used in service to others.

This way of thinking is also a theological liberation from a supernatural, theistic god who is in control of everything. It demands that I re-theologize around the meaning of ambiguity, and this is where doing theology becomes creative! God talk is now alive and takes on new meanings, inviting me to think in different metaphors, for God can only be described in metaphorical language.

Thomas J. Lindell, Ph.D

(member of the Society of Ordained Scientists)