My faith has become a center for my life. My marriage, the way I raise my children, my friendships and even my career are heavily shaped by my faith and where I feel I fit into God’s world. I have talked friends through times of crisis. I have pushed myself and my family through times of grief all on the back of my sturdy and solid faith. But I have to share that I’ve had moments where my faith fell.
I hesitate to write on this because it feels a bit taboo as a Christian. Is it okay to say I have moments of doubt? Is it okay to admit that in my life’s darkest moments, I have felt the terror of wondering if I am alone? Does this make me a bad Christian?
It was nearly a month ago that I found myself in this dark place. It hit me like a ton of bricks. My happy, peaceful little life was turned on its head. My plans were interrupted. The things that had been important the day before, suddenly had no significance. And with this swift turn of events, I felt incredibly weak in my faith.
I struggled in my pain and confusion and I wondered, is my God real? This idea of a soul, is it more than an elaborate, hard-wiring in our brains? Are we nothing more than the most amazing computer that biology ever evolved? The feelings I had in those moments with my thoughts are hard to describe. I don’t think I can find a way to write the emptiness of doubt.
I have heard of people hearing an answer from God. I mean actually hearing. There are Biblical stories and those experiences my friends have shared. But those have always been just stories. Something that happened for someone else, but not me. I have cried out in loss to God and felt resentful at the return of silence. But this time, in the silence of my doubt, I could hear for the first time.
I received an answer. I heard a clear, calm voice and it told me,
“No. This life is not it. You are more than your personality. You are more than your intelligence. You are more than the way you feel about one another. There is more to you than the way the world perceives you. You. Are. More. Than. The. World. Can. See.”
I was astounded in my heartbreak. How did I never understand this? I had thought the soul was so simple. I have explained it to my children time and time again saying, “Our soul makes us who we are…why Jace is funny…why Jera is stubborn…why we feel and cry and think.”
But suddenly I knew with absolute certainty that that isn’t it at all. We can change the way the world sees us. We can mimic another’s behavior. We can pretend to be someone we’re not. We can fool the world. We can make the world love us. We can make the world hate us. But only God sees who we truly are…only God has access to our souls. Only God knows us, the deep down, secret parts of us. The parts that we don’t show our lovers and our friends. The parts that our family never knows. The part that we might not even recognize. The part that is tucked away and is only for God, our Creator.
This part of us knows only God. Our soul doesn’t create a persona. It doesn’t design an interesting human being. Our personality is certainly a gift to us. It is a tool that can be used to do God’s work. And our relationships and the way we relate to one another, again, are separate from our soul. These bonds are again, a way for us to show God’s love to one another in this life. But our personality and our relationships are not US. They do not determine who we are and without them, we are still us.
If tomorrow something happens in this life, my memories are taken from me and you can’t recognize me as the often bubbly, sometimes overly serious, too guilible and always passionate person, wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend that I have always been….God will still know me. He can see past all of the qualities that the world uses to define me. He can see what I’m made of.
This is my answer. This was my experience. My gift in my time of doubt. I’ve never felt so certain of anything in my life. In my darkest moment, in my doubt, God was listening and he provided my answer.
I still went to sleep that night with a troubled and heavy heart. But I knew I was not alone. Difficult times are not over for my family. Over the past month, God has shown himself to my family and to me…little, undeserving, doubting me…again and again. I hope to tell the world about God’s work in my life. It is my greatest responsibility to share it with you.
I hope you read this and know that if you doubt, it’s okay. We are only human. I never thought I would react with doubt in a time of desperation…but I did. And my faith grew in leaps and bounds from this experience. Our faith can grow from our human experience. It should. I’m starting to realize, that’s the whole point. And when you doubt, God will love you anyway.