The Ebb and Flow of Faith
I have written here before about the seasons in my life where I felt my faith in God wane, or when I thought I had lost it altogether.
I was fifteen when I decided that I didn't believe in God anymore, but I didn't dare share that information with anyone--even my closest friends. I did what I had to do to get along in the Christian school I attended, at church, youth group, even at home.
But deep inside I had given up on all of it and was counting the days until my 18th birthday when I would no longer have to darken the door of a church ever again.
It took many years, but I did find my way back to church, and eventually discovered a new expression of my faith that brought me incredible joy, and what felt like a new lease on life.
At the time, I never imagined that there would come a day when I would once again wonder if God was really there, or that I would be overwhelmed by doubts and questions about faith. I guess I thought I had put all that behind me.
The sober truth about your faith journey is that you never quite get to a point where you don't have questions for God. And you also never get to a place where you won't have moments of doubt.
Sometimes our circumstances can cause us to wonder. It might take global pandemic violence in the streets, political unrest, or our own personal trauma, tragedy, or tribulation to do it, but even the bravest and most faithful among us have our moments.
Here's the good news in all of this. First, you aren't alone if you resonate with what I am saying. There are a lot of us out there who are constantly experiencing the ebb and flow of our faith.
Second, what you are experiencing is perfectly natural and totally okay. Sometimes you just don't have any answers, and sometimes it feels as if God doesn't either. There are lots of reasons why we feel far away from God at times, and we shouldn't ever feel guilty for it.
I've come to believe that God actually prefers it when we struggle with God, and spend time thinking critically about our beliefs. Faith and doubt are not diametrically opposed.
I recently started reading Wholehearted Faith by the late Rachel Held Evans, and she wrote this wonderful line before she passed away tragically just a few years ago:
For better or for worse, there are seasons when we hold our faith, and then there are seasons when our faith holds us.
I can't tell you how much I love that line. It's simple, beautiful, and true.
Listen, the truth of that statement shouldn't be lost on any of us because it's the kind of truth that illuminates our shadows and chases away the darkness--even the darkness we create.
Because sometimes you have to be held by your faith when you can't hold it on your own. Sometimes---and this is super important for you to know---you just might need other people to embody God and hold you in faith.
Which means you need a community that is willing to do that. You need to be in a community with people who aren't afraid of your doubts or questions, and who embrace you where you are--wherever you are.
If you don't have a community like that, you need to find it. If you don't know where to start, I would be willing to make some recommendations. Message me, or find someone you trust to ask, but make the ask.
And know that if you are struggling with your faith, you are in good company. It comes with the journey, like some strange consolation prize, and there are so many of us who know the struggle.
May you find peace in the ebbs and flows of faith, and may you discover what it means for your faith (and others) to hold you until you hold it once more.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.