The jig is up, I’m coming clean…I am a Christian who has been through seasons of serious doubt and unbelief regarding my religion and the existence of God. My most challenging and impactful experience with doubt was in college.
My sophomore year had just begun, and I was desperately trying to decide on a major. I’d heard stories of friends and family members who had received a “calling” or a clear sign from God regarding their purpose in life. Man, I wanted that. To this day I wish I could wake up in the morning, look over to my dresser mirror and see that God has left a sticky note there with instructions on what I’m supposed to do with my life. “Teacher”, “Florist”, “Professional Underwater Basket Weaver.” It doesn’t have to be a long explanation, a word or two would do just fine. Instead, I’ve spent the majority of my life searching, wondering, and praying.
I remember feeling like the beginning of my sophomore year was the period in my life that my faith was the strongest. I was highly involved in church, small groups, and volunteering, and my prayer life was consistent and meaningful.
And then it happened.
No reason. No warning. No explanation. It just happened. I began questioning everything I’d ever learned or believed about my faith. I had to start asking the tough questions. “If God is only good, why do things like natural disasters and childhood cancer exist?” “What if there are some things in the Bible that I don’t agree with? Is that okay?” “What do I say to those who believe that religion is just a way of helping people build community and find comfort to get through life?”
It was exhausting and at times truly terrifying, but I had to get to the bottom of it all. I began to seek counsel from friends, family, mentors, spiritual leaders, professors, and people of different faiths and backgrounds. I also started researching on my own, reading articles and books whenever I could find the time outside of school. It was a long process. One of the scariest parts was going to sleep at night not knowing if I would go to Heaven if I died . . . wondering if Heaven even existed. This season of questioning and learning lasted over a year - and although it may be hard to believe…I am so thankful that it did.
I came out of this journey as a new person with a renewed view of God, faith, and Christianity. I realized that before this, I was following Christ blindly. Growing up, I attended church with my parents, and I believed everything I was taught in Sunday school without question. After digging deeper and deeper into life’s hard questions, I found myself closer to God. It was so freeing to learn that God does not want us to follow blindly! I yearned for a more authentic faith. I think it’s important to ask the tough questions, learn things on your own, and to know that going through seasons of doubt and unbelief are normal!
To those of you experiencing something like this right now, keep going. Keep learning, asking uncomfortable questions, and talking to people of different faiths and backgrounds to gain new perspectives. And to those of you who know someone going through a season like this, I would encourage you to talk to them, love them, give them any space they need, but always be willing to offer strong support as well. This life thing is hard, so let us answer God’s call to love each other well and make sure His children know that they are not alone.
A few recommendations from myself and others who have gone through seasons of doubt and unbelief:
- The Hiding Place, Book by: Corrie ten Boom
- The Case for Christ, Book by: Lee Strobel
- Christy, Novel by: Catherine Marshall
- Proof of Heaven, Book by: Dr. Eben Alexander