If you’re new to my blog, you might think I only post about my anxiety (and more recently, my depression). You might think that all my posts have blue title banners. But…no. I colour code my posts. Blue is for anxiety and mental health. Peachy-yellow is for faith. And there has been a definite lack of peach.
My doubts started a while back. I can’t even pinpoint the moment they started. They didn’t start quickly. They didn’t come out of nowhere. They crept up on me until doubt seemed perfectly normal. This quote from the famous philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard sums it up pretty well.
“But doubt is wily and cunning and never, as it is sometimes said to be, loud or defiant. It is unassuming and sly, not bold or assertive – and the more unassuming, the more dangerous.”
My doubts were sly and unassuming. Like I said, I can’t even remember when they began. But once they were in my head, it seemed impossible to get them out.
I began doubting my entire faith and my relationship with God. My lowest point was when I was death-obsessed last month. I couldn’t shake the hard reality that life eventually comes to an end. I couldn’t shake the hard reality that my belief in God had faded.
Is God even real? Does He care about me? What happens after I die? Heaven seems way too good to be true. I can’t believe in this fairytale. Am I wasting my time?
All these thoughts ran through my head on a daily basis. They drove me crazy.
During this time, I didn’t want to talk to any of my Christian peers about this. I’m a youth leader, a Sunday school teacher, and my HUSBAND is in school studying theology…and I have doubts? How embarrassing.
I was so embarrassed that I refused to tell anyone, including my husband, about this until it eventually just…came out. It’s hard to hide this kind of thing.
I was embarrassed because…
A youth leader shouldn’t have doubts, right?
A Sunday school teacher shouldn’t have doubts, right?
A future “Pastor’s wife” shouldn’t have doubts, right?
An elder’s daughter shouldn’t have doubts, right?
A life-long Christian shouldn’t have doubts, right?
Doubts are normal. After many conversations with other Christians in my life, I realized I wasn’t a “terrible Christian” because of my period of doubt. I think it’s how you deal with those doubts that is the important part.
I wish having doubt wasn’t so stigmatized in our churches. I wish more people, especially pastors, spoke about their own struggles with doubt. Because I’m sure they have doubts or at least have, in the past, wrestled with it.
I also wish I knew how to deal with doubt when I went through this time. Maybe if we talked about doubt more, I would have known what I needed to do during this period in my life. Maybe it wouldn’t have taken months for me to get somewhat back on track.
Now, this isn’t a surefire strategy if you’re experiencing doubt. But this is what helped me:
1. Acceptance. I had to stop denying my thoughts & doubts. I had to stop telling myself “this will pass if you ignore it.” I had to accept the fact that doubt weaseled its way into my mind, and was there to stay for foreseeable future.
2. Realize You’re Normal. I had to realize that all Christians go through periods of doubt and that does not mean I am a bad person, or that my faith was too weak. Still, I also had to realize that even though it was normal, I was not dealing with my doubts in a healthy manner and that needed to change.
3. Reach Out. Once I stopped feeling so embarrassed about my doubts, I spoke to my husband, my family, my mentor, and a few other people from church about what I was going through. Hearing other people’s testimonies and advice really comforted me. The “Realize You’re Normal” step finally seemed possible.
4. Be “Normal.” No, I don’t mean just “act like everything is okay and eventually this will pass.” But…pray when you don’t feel like praying. “Lord, I believe. But help my unbelief.” It’s okay to be honest with God. Do a devotional even when you dread it. Write in your prayer journal even when you would much rather be playing your new PS4 game.
Do these things trusting that the feelings will eventually come. And realizing that even if those feelings never come back, God is still there and He is still good.
I like to compare my relationship with God to my marriage. (I mean like, so does everyone). A lot of times, we don’t FEEL ‘love’ towards our partner.Well, that’s because love isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice. I’m sure you’ve heard that before.
After you’ve been with someone for a while, those lovey-dovey butterfly feelings…they just disappear. Every once in a while, our partners will do something extra cute and WOAH! The butterflies again! But it doesn’t happen very often anymore. Still, you know that your love for your partner is much stronger now than it ever was before.
A lot of times, I don’t FEEL anything when I do a devotional or when I pray or when I worship. And that’s okay. I just have to learn to trust that God is still there whether I feel him or not, and that through my doubts, He’s still listening to every word I have to say.