Doubt.

Amy - Arlington, Virginia
Entered on April 26, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in myself. I think.

I’ve been exploring faith this year – at some point I realized I’d been battling sadness for a very long time. And that at points this sadness swallowed me inside and out, and I felt very alone with a side order of hopelessness that scared me. As a child, my family fell apart, as many do, and I felt keenly the pain of loss, and yearned for love and acceptance. I escaped in dreams and in books. It seemed to me that the elusive future had now arrived and things hadn’t changed that much – still struggling for my place with no family of my own. I started to doubt a future where there was a place for me. That my hopes were little more that naïve dreams of youth – of a sad youth.

When I viewed myself, I saw shortcomings. When I looked at my future, I felt it had arrived and questioned to what end.

Perhaps by divine intervention or perhaps simple serendipity, I attended church one day with a friend and the sermon addressed the core of my solo suffering. And it made me believe for a moment, that I did not have to carry my burdens alone. And not only did I not have to carry them alone, but that I could be forgiven for my imperfections – that in fact – my imperfections were no worse than anyone else’s. That in fact, I was potentially a part of something bigger than myself.

However, this isn’t the end of the story. Because skepticism, doubt, and cynicism were habits I held dear. I was wedded to my sadness, made love to my melancholy. I still enjoy a good moment of melancholy. But it was the beginning of a journey to open my mind to faith in something bigger – and to feel the shine of hope and inspiration. The view that religion was for judgmental people clinging to power or manipulating the masses – that it had no place in my particular humanity – disintegrated like ash in the rain. I learned to forgive – not only others, but finally, myself.

I’m still traveling the pothole-filled road of rediscovering faith and still struggling with boulder-like doubts and with cynical loneliness, at times. But I’ve learned the importance of believing in something –and that believing in something bigger – surrendering my ego can actually redeem it. To believe I am a part of something bigger can help me reclaim my belief in myself and release my imperfections.

Recently a group I belong to discussed that even those who do not claim any particular belief system have one – that to claim to belief in nothing larger is simply an alternate belief system, another way of ordering the universe. In the end, we all believe in something – even if it’s that there is nothing bigger, and we are simply left with the alternative –

To believe in ourselves. Through whatever system of doubt or belief we arrive there.

I believe in myself. I think.