Is Doubt the absence of faith? This is the question I see Don Gatley Struggling with in this section. His inability to connect with the “higher power” for Gatley spells out the fear that what kept and is keeping him sober amidst the everyday struggle and pain is not real. In his shoes I would think “if my sobriety comes from God, and God isn’t real then is my Sobriety not real?” This thought process however misses a large truth about life. Doubt in anything is not the absence of faith but the context in which faith develops. You can’t have faith without doubt. Faith without doubt is no faith at all because it removes the need for choice, the mandate for free will over our lives. I also enjoy all the instances where we get to see Gately discuss his faith—his unbelief. A favorite is Gately complaining about his lack of understanding about God and F.F suggests that “maybe anything minor-league enough for Don Gately to understand wasn’t Major-league enough” to save him. In Hebrews 11:1 it says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” and it gives me joy to see DFW write about something that has been a major leap in dealing with my own doubt. Reading about how Gately no longer cares if he understands or not. You see him no longer focused on analyzing his disbelief but rather living it out through prayer and actually living not being burdened by the heaviness of doubt. I love that Gately continues to tell the Ennet residents the truth. Though we aren’t given specifically what he tells them from the point he’s at now I imagine it’s something along the lines of
“I don’t understand how it worked, but it worked. People told me that it would work and I didn’t know what to believe but I was desperate and needed to believe and now I see that it did work”
This is a beautiful picture of the Gospel in IJ and such a great reminder to me of the wisdom that can be found in this book.
We carry the people in our lives with us by carrying this revelation: There is nothing wrong with doubt. Doubt is healthy. But belief—whether its in God, yourself or the people in your life—amidst the doubt turns it into faith. And faith is what brings the substance, the wisdom we have to share and give from our experience…our fuel for life.