Complete self confidence is not merely a sin; complete self confidence is a weakness. Believing utterly in one’s self is a hysterical and superstitious belief … GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy.
How frightening, it turns out, to be both inquisitor and standard-setter of your soul! One would think that we long for such freedom—“you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Such freedom becomes our own personal hell. We are forever second-guessing if we are good enough at our jobs, relationships, families, lives: I never have to look far to find some nurse, some professor, who appears to have it more together than me.
“I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family …”“I’m a nurse, you’re a nurse, we’re the ones who really care … “
The materialist immediately has a much shorter list: there is no heaven, and nothing to doubt that cannot be seen, touched, measured, and experienced. Once things are seen, touched, measured, and experienced, nothing can be doubted—except, perhaps, for doubt itself.
The madman is horrifyingly certain of his reality. Any psych nurse knows that that therapy is so difficult because the practitioner is striving against that certainty: if even a glimmer of doubt can be shed about his world of paranoia, voices, and illusion; there is a movement toward wellness.
Christians, on the other hand, are free to doubt in good health :-) ... to wonder, imagine, to embrace Mystery. Christians live in the paradox of the cross: this crux where time and eternity meet. We are free, then, not to believe in ourselves. To cultivate an inner locus of control based on an inquiry of self-as-assessed externally. We are valued by God, and upheld by his standard of care made explicable in his Word. There is, thus, an external touchstone when caught up in the whirling vortex of self-doubt.
We live caught in time, but captured by the eternal. Our God is big. Our viewfinder is limited by finite boundaries. As we grow into greater vision of God, these boundaries grow with us. We live in complexity: the muck and murk of earthly reality in learning, teaching, nursing, community living is framed by the finiteness of the boundaries of our viewfinders. Healthy doubt is catching sight of the periphery in stark contrast to the light. Glimpsing that thin edge at light's border—a necessary happening in this finite world. Perhaps, in this way, doubt itself acts as a marker of the size of our God. Perhaps as well, this doubt saves us from the madman’s illusions: it is not all about me, my feelings, my thoughts, or that matter, my actions … as the Bard scribed, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”