O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


Jamie Wright: A Born Doubter

posted by Jason Boyett

jamievwm.jpgJamie Wright began blogging regularly just over a year ago. She called herself “Jamie the Very Worst Missionary” and wanted to offer a candid, humorous take on life as a missionary in Costa Rica’s central valley. She succeeded, I think, far beyond her expectations.

Jamie’s blog got attention out of the gate, because it was head-snappingly honest. She destroyed most people’s concepts of what Christian missionaries were supposed to say, think, and reveal to the world. If Anne Lamott were a couple decades younger, lived on the side of a volcano in Central America, and had a blog, it would probably read a lot like Jamie’s.

Jamie was kind enough to take a break from her work as a missionary and mother of three boys to write today’s “Voices of Doubt” guest post.

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I am a born doubter. It’s in my DNA. I was raised mostly Jewish by an anti-authoritarian, atheist, science-fiction writer. For real. I am not kidding when I tell you I came out of the womb doubting the existence of God.

If you had told me at the age of 10 that I would one day believe in a Savior called Jesus, I’d have laughed in your face with a hearty “I doubt it.” My dad would never have it, and besides, the stories I knew so well — stories of Moses talking to a burning bush and Jonah living inside a fish — were just way too implausible for the girl that brought a Van de Graaf generator to the 5th grade science fair when all the other kids made potato-powered clocks.

If you had told me at 16 that I’d be pregnant within a year…OK, I might have believed you…but if you’d mentioned that I would marry my baby-daddy and still be married to him 17 years later, I’d have blown you off with a “Yeah. I doubt it.”

And if you had pulled me aside just a few years ago and said “You, my friend, are gonna be a missionary!” I’d have responded with a disgusted eye-roll and a “Yeah. I doubt it.” And by “I doubt it” I would have meant “Over my bloated, dead body.” Because, seriously, at that point my life’s most pressing long-term goals included laser hair-removal and never, ever getting super fat. So, you can see, joining the ranks of the social rejects and homeschooling, helpmates-in-mom-jeans on the mission field was clearly not on my list of things to do.

So now you’re probably wondering how the doubting Jewish daughter of an atheist ends up a Christian Missionary in Central America.

The answer is: I have absolutely no idea. But, here I am. And it is insanity.

I work with kids in the ghetto, loving on the poorest of the poor…and I hurry home to the suburbs to throw my kid’s private school uniforms in the washer and cook a hot meal.

I live one life in English, where I’m able to express myself, share ideas, laugh with people…and another in Spanish, where I’m an idiot, and if not for my blond hair and blue eyes, people would wonder if I had some sort of brain damage.

I read the Bible and believe it to be filled with truth…and I sometimes wonder about the validity of its claims.

I love the Church…and I hate the Church.

I believe in God and I gave up everything to follow Him…and I still want laser-hair removal. Somehow, both of those things fit in my world.

If this whole missionary thing has taught me anything, it’s that life is full of these crazy juxtapositions — things that on the surface seem like complete opposites, but when you lay them side-by-side they mysteriously fit together. Things like doubt and faith… or me and missions. Some things simply defy explanation.

I’m not gonna lie: that DNA strand of doubt is ever-present in me. If you want to tell me that God has plans to redeem this mixed-up, broken world, I’d be inclined to sigh, and tell you “Yeah. I doubt it.”

But…I’ve been wrong before.

————-

Thank you, Jamie. Keep up with Jamie’s missionary work with Latin Americans — including her work every Tuesday among high-risk children in an impoverished neighborhood — by following her on Twitter or visiting her blog, The Very Worst Missionary.

Previous posts in the “Voices of Doubt” series…

Trudy Morgan-Cole: The Squirmin’ Herman of Doubt
David Sessions: The Hard Work of Faith
Dean Nelson: Test Everything
Carlene Bauer: Prodigal Daughter
Larry Shallenberger: The Knight and the Fortune Cookie
David Dark on Sacred Questioning
Cara Davis: A Textbook Case
Matthew Paul Turner: Letting Them See My Doubt
Sally Lloyd-Jones: Where Did You Put Your Faith?
Chad Gibbs: When It Doesn’t Seem Fair
Leeana Tankersley: The Swirling Waters
Robert Cargill: The Skeptic in the Sanctuary
Dana Ellis: Haunted by Questions
Rachel Held Evans on Works-Based Salvation
Winn Collier: Doubt Better
Tyler Clark on Losing Fear, Losing Faith
Rob Stennett on the Genesis of Doubt
Adam Ellis on Hoping That It’s True
Nicole Wick on Breaking Up with God
Anna Broadway on Doubt and Marriage



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Matt @ The Church of No People

posted December 10, 2010 at 9:05 am


Love Jamie’s blog! I think that even though I come from the opposite end of the spectrum, we kind of meet in the middle. I was born a pastor’s kid, had no problem with faith. But as I grew up, and went to a Baptist college of all places, I started doubting a lot of the assumptions of modern Christianity. I guess I’m a believer who doubts while Jamie is a doubter who believes.



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Ashley Musick

posted December 10, 2010 at 9:55 am


I think the little spark of doubt that creeps up in my hopes, dreams, and desires for a better world is actually what makes God showing up and blowing my mind all the better. Like Jamie, I’m a missionary, and sometimes it’s hard to believe that the things I’ve seen in the world could actually be turned around. But if I didn’t think it was a difficult task, a big issue, an almost impossible thought, then God couldn’t wouldn’t be the all-powerful, loving God He is.
Love Jamie’s blog… totally real and honest.



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Melinda

posted December 10, 2010 at 10:03 am


I love Jamie. I don’t remember whose blog first led me to hers, but it was love at first sight.
And like Matt, I was raised-ish in a church (for real in junior high and beyond) and it wasn’t until Bible College that I felt my faith give way to greater and greater doubts.
Learning how to live with the paradoxes is a journey I ‘m still on… the paradoxes of my faith, the paradoxes of my life.
That to say, thanks for the voices of doubt… and thanks for having jamie here, especially.



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eduClaytion

posted December 10, 2010 at 10:08 am


Really good article Jamie. Thanks for hosting Jason. I know a lot of folks who think the exact same way but don’t articulate that “juxtaposition” like you have. Doubt is always there and most of us are lying if we pretend we don’t think about the things in life that distract us. Keep up the good work.



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Charlie Chang

posted December 10, 2010 at 10:29 am


I love it because there isn’t a “like” button!



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Janet Oberholtzer

posted December 10, 2010 at 10:33 am


Jason, I think I tell you every week that I love these Friday posts and here I am again … I love this series. Thanks!
Jamie … when Jason tweeted yesterday that you’d be writing today’s post, I looked forward to it, actually stayed up all night waiting for it to be posted (ok, not quite, I do (kinda) have a life)
Your post is great (as usual) … love the bouncing back and forth between faith and doubt, because that is where I live. Plus enjoyed hearing a little more about your life and the way you’ve overcome tough odds … being a young mother and wife. I married at 20 and had three sons in 4.5 years and hardly survived … so hats off to your endurance.
Like this line … “that DNA strand of doubt is ever-present in me.” I think I was born with that strand also, though I was born into an almost-Amish home (strict traditional Mennonite) I began having questions/doubts around age 2 or so, but I was (strongly) taught that you don’t ask questions. Now I am finally allowing myself to be honest about my doubts … but since I’m in my mid-forties I often feel like the old lady in the crowd.



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Erin Pettengill

posted December 10, 2010 at 11:18 am


Sweet Jamie – thanks for sharing your heart, as usual, in an honest and open manner. Thank you for speaking your mind and saying the things others don’t want or can’t. Thank you for coming from California…I know…I know…I’m a BIT biased! And thanks for being just you. I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope that we are able to connect while we are here in The States, but somehow I see that time slipping away, and we won’t be able to! Darn it! Anyway – prayers your way to you and your family. Love ya girl! Erin



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The Seminary Wife

posted December 10, 2010 at 11:25 am


Thanks for having Jamie do this quest post! She is one of my favorite bloggers. And now I’ve been introduced to this site because of her. I’m sure I’ll be back to read more.



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Cathi

posted December 10, 2010 at 11:40 am


Jamie–more I didn’t know about you! This was a great blog and I try to keep my “I doubt it’s” to myself(although God knows them I know)….
Let’s get the fams together and grill out after the holidays!



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Sherri

posted December 10, 2010 at 11:50 am


From one born doubter turned believer to another… thanks for being brave enough to speak up Jamie! If you haven’t read her blog… it is a must. I’ll be checking this one out because of her too.



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Katie McNemar

posted December 10, 2010 at 11:51 am


Awesome post, Jamie!



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Matt Snyder

posted December 10, 2010 at 1:43 pm


Yay, Jamie! Great post – as always.



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seekingpastor

posted December 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm


Without doubt there would be no need for faith. Good post from a person doing a good work. Thankful for those who do what so few would dare to even dream about doing.



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Buddy Bagwell

posted December 10, 2010 at 4:00 pm


Jamie, Great blog…
The best thing about Pulp Fiction was the dialog, it was real not like a normal movie script. That is what I like about your blog it is real. When Jesus was on the earth I believe it was like your blog, real dialog about every day things, caring about real hurting people not characters in a book. Also lots of laughing…
I also love it when your dad comments on your blog.



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Dana

posted December 10, 2010 at 4:03 pm


You nailed it again Jamie. Thanks for keepin it real.



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Chelsea O'Leary

posted December 10, 2010 at 10:49 pm


Love it!



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kelybreez

posted December 11, 2010 at 12:55 am


Jamie, as always, love reading your stuff…
The only difference between your doubting and other Christians’ doubting is that you talk out loud about it and others don’t.
So many times we say all the things we learned in Sunday School LOUDER, and that makes us feel like we’re not doubting.



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DeborahDC

posted December 11, 2010 at 6:48 am


Jamie – you rock – AGAIN!



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Woody Roland

posted December 11, 2010 at 9:29 am


Considering the wonderful juxtaposition of Jewishness, doubt and creativity (which you definitely have Jamie), Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote,”Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters.”
Thank you for “doubting with us” as we attempt to be light in this sometimes dark, dark world.



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douglas

posted December 11, 2010 at 11:11 am


Doubt is so essential to faith. Thank you for doubting and working that doubt out in fearing and trembling. And by engaging in good works.



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Jeff Goins

posted December 11, 2010 at 2:35 pm


Jamie’s a friend. I love her honesty, wit, and humor. I can tell you, knowing a little about her personally, that she’s the real deal. Her self-effacing sincerity isn’t false modesty or a ruse; she sincerely lives out her faith each day, honestly and humbly. Her transparency about issues that, I believe, we all struggle with is a model for me personally and for the church as a whole. Thanks for sharing some of her wisdom with your audience, Jason.



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Jenna C

posted December 11, 2010 at 8:25 pm


Jamie, love seeing your writing all over the web. This is a great post so stop hating it, ok? I love you, friend. Hope your Christmas is awesome…



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thebeloved

posted December 12, 2010 at 2:27 am


Great post! I love how you illuminate (indirectly) that God is full of things that don’t make sense to use and do things that don’t make sense to us, but that He’s still right. I’ve been wrong before to… lots of times. But, that doesn’t stop Him from putting the girl, who never wanted to leave her home town, halfway across the world. It has never stopped Him from using fragile human beings to carry His message. Whaddaya know!



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Kim

posted December 12, 2010 at 7:33 am


Thank you, Jamie. You always provide a smile, usually some throw my head back laughter, and there’s that stilled, nod of ascent as you finish your thought. I love all the laughter. But I love reading even more for that grounding, that beautiful sobering, that God is so much bigger, better than I’ve even thought to let HIm be. That makes me faithfully search my inbox for another word of life from the very worst missionary.



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Susan Wilson

posted December 12, 2010 at 7:19 pm


Jamie, I love your blog. I Iook so forward to reading it. You are an amazing women. I miss you and your family. Hope to see you all this holiday season.



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Susan Wilson

posted December 12, 2010 at 7:25 pm


Jamie, I look so forward to your blog. You are an amazing women. We miss you and your family. Hope we can get together this Holiday season.



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Carole Turner

posted December 12, 2010 at 7:41 pm


I follow her on Twitter, not even sure how that came about, but I love her writing. So good. Thanks for posting this.



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Alvin-Rocks

posted December 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm


The next time I’m in Costa Rica – I’m gonna find Jamie and give her a big hug. This is a safe promise, since I never plan on going to Costa Rica. But then again … I guess making such blanket statements was the point of this post – wasn’t it.



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MarytheKay

posted December 14, 2010 at 12:39 am


Wow. This is my first time to read this series. I’m here because Jamie’s here. But, I’ll sure be back!! Love the idea of the series.
Jamie, your writing–as usual–just shimmers! Love it!!!



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Kari Kounkel

posted December 14, 2010 at 3:14 pm


I, too, love your writing. I love the freshness and the honesty. I found your blog at one of my favorite blogs, TheDirtyShame.blogspot.com, and now I’m a follower. Keep up the good work.



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Lisa Prather

posted December 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm


I love Jamie and love reading her blog. You amaze me girl!



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Laura @ Life Overseas

posted December 16, 2010 at 3:33 am


I love this post! I’ve grown up as a preacher’s kid, husband’s been in church ministry for ten years, and now we are overseas in Thailand with a Christian NGO. And one thing I have seen is that HONESTY is so often not a quality that the American Church seems to value. Perhaps that’s why so many people love Jamie and her blog {I know I do!}– because it is refreshingly honest and authentic and real and makes us all feel . . .
NORMAL.



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Erica

posted December 17, 2010 at 11:07 pm


Dude, I had me a little “laser hair removal” and it totally did. not. work. Total waste of money. Stop wishing for it.
There.
I’ve set you free.
I feel so … so … so JESUSY!
excellent!



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Matthew Drake

posted December 20, 2010 at 12:35 am


The only thing more satisfying than the freedom to doubt is the ability to doubt that doubt.
I dunno. Am I drunk?



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Lisa Jemison

posted January 29, 2011 at 8:21 pm


I love this blog! Jamie says the things I hope everyone thinks!



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