Jamie 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.
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
• 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