Sunday, August 19, 2012

Some thoughts from a Christian who doesn't always feel confident about her faith

I am going to get a brain tumor with all the phone calls I've been making. I guess that's the consequence of moving far, far away from your family and friends.

Le sigh. Bittersweet.

I might spend my whole life trying to learn how to live by this: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." -- Philippians 4:11

Written by a man who was in prison. Yeah, I could learn a thing or two from such an attitude. But something I have been learning and thinking about regarding faith is that you can't will yourself to adopt an attitude. You certainly can't adopt a feeling. You can change your actions to try and nudge your feelings from bad to better, such as my choice to go for a walk just now and to call my brother and his wife while I was out. But I don't feel 100 percent at peace right now, no.

You also can't adopt a belief just at any moment, in the sense that you can tell yourself you're going to believe something and then immediately believe it. You can choose the faith and beliefs that come with it that you are going to do your best to live by and at least try and believe in. You can't suddenly make yellow your favorite color if really your favorite color is green. I am of the camp, however, that believes that it's up to God what our favorite color, so to speak, our values, choices, beliefs, etc., should be, and He will make a way to get us there and it is our job to trust Him or at least try to trust Him. Or, just wait (while walking through life), hoping to feel that trust until suddenly we do feel that trust.

If you live by a certain faith, some days you are going to believe it fully. Some days you are going to feel that belief fully. But whether you're first coming to a particular faith, or have been in it for years, it's a struggle. Our emotions fluctuate and that reality makes trust and belief very difficult.

But that's what they say faith is for. You choose to do your best to believe in the teachings that you trust, or that you want to trust even when you're not sure that you do. People outside of a faith sometimes laugh at that, but to me I can't imagine abandonment of my faith as a solution. Weathering my way through doubt, fear, depression, not being entirely or at all sure of what it is I hope to believe in; it sometimes honestly feels like I spend a majority of my time doing that. Frustrating as hell.

But walking away? Absolutely not. Sometimes I walk through things, not experiencing feelings of trust, or peace, or calm, or happiness. In those times I may not be able to say with confidence that I believe specifically in something that might seem very out there, in things I can't explain. Sometimes it feels like my actions result in little to no change. That cliche of feeling like no one is listening to your prayers is cliche because it's a common feeling. Or wondering why you're praying about feeling confused and lacking in your faith while people are starving, abused, screwed up by drugs, more scared and alone than I can sometimes feel. Yeah, I feel it all, a lot.

But walking away would make me feel lost. Where would I go? It's better to worry and at least hope what I want to believe in is true than to just worry without holding onto anything.

Feeling badly at times is inevitable as humans. And believe me, folks, I feel badly a lot. I have plenty of moments where I'm fine, too. Confident, accomplished, happy, having fun. So I don't want you to get the idea that I'm always one way or the other. In fact for me one of my bigger fears is not knowing how I'll feel from day to day, because like I said feeling badly is inevitable, at some point or another. Some people are blessed to feel happy and calm almost all the time. Others are not.

Choosing to believe in something outside of ourselves can help. It helps me, anyway, and I do believe with certainty that it helps others. While I can't always feel things happening in my life, or can't bring myself to trust that things are working out for God's will, I have seen so many people changed by their faith in God, and in Jesus.

You may be reading this and it sounds totally foreign to you. Or it might sound completely familiar. I'm just glad you're reading it, to either find comfort in common ground or to learn of a perspective that so many people of faith have. Sometimes I think people think that people of faith are just arrogant, or kidding themselves. A lot of times we're just trying to be content whatever the circumstances, because a man who was once in prison found a way to do so. I don't know if Paul's faith was unwavering, but he certainly felt there was some reason to try and make it so.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Bailey! I think you've hit the nail on the head. Faith isn't easy, but it sustains us through the good and the bad.

    1. Thanks, Casey! Good to see your name--I would say face, but I don't see it here :)--on here.

  2. Yep! A wise man once told me that without God's help we can not believe. We seek him because his creation, including you and me, are compelling examples of his work. We are not here by accident.

    Thanks for sharing your struggle. I know I feel the same way often. Hope you find a message from God today to strengthen you.

    Love Ya!


    1. Thanks, Sharon, for the sweet note. Ditto on the hoping you find strength today. xoxo

  3. My friend a CC friend of mine was telling me on the phone again today of his plans to gather young Christian people's stories about their faith and struggles and the like. Anyway, I was thinking about this and voila, here is something directly on the topic. Would you be interested in such a project? I'm not really sure what would happen with it. My friend probably isn't really, either. (still planning stage). He was thinking of gathering a few together to get an idea of perhaps a format and then requesting more. He didn't want to go through official channels initially, just to gather such stories/essays and, presumably, get them out to the wider angsty, young adult world out there.

    1. Would love to participate (or at least consider)! Thanks, friend! Do you have my email to send me more details?

      Also, do you/your friend know of the book "O Me of Little Faith" by Jason Boyett? It's on the subject of spiritual doubt.

      Good to hear from you, fellow Kansan.


  4. Bailey:

    You're too young to sweat such details. Don't sweat the small stuff, as the famous books of that name suggest. Nobody is perfect and that includes you and me.

    The Scriptures say that God is the "author and perfecter" of our faiths. You cannot make your faith perfect. Therefore it is pointless to try. Enjoy your life and learn to laugh at your faults. I try to do that.

    Finally, remember that the Scriptures are quite clear about nearly all the main characters having a crisis of faith. The list is too long to mention but here's a snippet: Moses slapping the rock with the stick, Abraham & Sarah not trusting God's promise to deliver them a child, John the Baptist sitting in prison before his execution wondering if Jesus was really the Messiah, Peter and his 3 denials. They all doubted. God put those stories in Scripture for a reason.

    Now go watch something funny on tv for me.


    1. Tom! Wish we could have a beer and you could offer your "young Jedi" some of your senior wisdom. :)

      Thanks for the note. And you're totally right about the crises of people mentioned in Scripture. I like your point about not trying to perfect our faith because God is the author and perfector of it. So true, yet I never thought of putting those two points together (the quit trying part and what Scripture tells us).

      Hope you and that babe of yours are doing more than well.


  5. I am glad you could put pen to paper or in this case fingers to keyboard. This reminded me of a more secular quote I found that was inspirational when I was struggling like you by Caroline Joy Adams:

    Your life is a sacred journey and it is about change, growth, discovery and your vision of what is possible. You are on the right path exactly where you are meant to be right now . . . shaping your life story.

  6. oh, and by the way Grammie is Maureen

    1. Hi Maureen! Miss you!!! Thanks for the note! xoxo