I grew up in a home where the word “God” was rarely spoken. I went to mass maybe 10 times with my mom (outside of the weekly masses that my school required), and we never once prayed together as a family that I can recall. I think every parent, whether intentional or not, models to their children what is and what is not important. In my childhood home, God did not make the list of things that were important.
I went on to have a strange relationship with God in adulthood. I like to call it a non-existent relationship. I sometimes felt like maybe God existed. Most of the time, though, God was just a thing that dumb people talked about to make themselves feel better. God was the Santa Claus for adults. If you do good, you get rewarded with presents (heaven). If you do bad, you get punished with coal (hell). During the fleeting moments where I did believe there might be a God, He always seemed to agree with every single thing I thought. What a crazy coincidence, right? God was always ok with the things I was ok with and He was not ok with the things I happened to think were wrong.
As most of you know, I had a pretty life altering conversion experience 3 years ago, but that’s not where my walk with Christ ended. I didn’t have my conversion and just become unwavering in my faith. I still have moments of doubt. I still have moments where my imperfect, human brain just cannot figure out this whole God thing. What does God look like? Is He an actual visible being? What is Heaven like? What if this whole thing is just a sham and this life is all we get? What if after this life there is only nothingness? That last question brings me such sadness and fear that tears immediately come to my eyes on the occasions where it jumps to mind.
I know some of you are reading this and praying for me. I know many of you cannot begin to relate, but I know, deep in my heart, that there are some of you out there who have similar doubting thoughts pop into your mind. And, you are the reason I wanted to write this soul baring post. I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that the people who appear to live a life devoted to Christ do not always have everything figured out. I still struggle with doubt. Do you know what I do about it? I tell the Lord that I will continue to act, to pray, to show up despite my questions. I ask Him to love me through my weaknesses. I offer up to Him my prayers for those who doubt and do nothing beyond their doubt. I tell Him I will carry my cross of doubt out of love for Him.
Today in mass the Priest said, “how can you do anything BUT believe when you look back at your life and at all the ways He has shown up for you and carried you through.” And I wanted to stand up and say: “I, in my weakness, STILL manage to have moments of doubt even with all of the amazing things God has done for me. Even though He has shown Himself to me OVER and OVER, I still forget. I cannot be alone in this. Right? Right? Yes? No?” I did not stand up and say that in the middle of his homily because I don’t think the sweet little old ladies would’ve approved (and because that wasn’t the time or the place). But, this is the place. So, here I am, being really, really honest with all of you and, more importantly, with myself.
I opened my Magnificat, and you’ll never believe what I found. Sitting there, looking at me, waiting for me, was the passage pictured below. I got goosebumps when I read: “For some people, the intensity of their belief in God is matched by an inclination to ask questions of God. The correlation is not a sign of disrespect of doubt.”
And I read it and I felt like God was saying “Hey, guess what? You’re not alone. There are other people who wonder the same things you wonder.” I felt really grateful in that moment. Grateful that God loves me enough to gift me with little moments of unwavering faith in the middle of all of my big, crazy questions. I thought maybe someone out there might need to know they are not alone in their weakness. I want you to know that I completely understand what it feels like when your brain gets in the middle of your relationship with God. I have been there. I am there more often than not and it doesn’t have to be the end of the conversation with Him. You can love Him through your questions. You can pray when those thoughts enter your mind. You can be faithful to Him through your doubt.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have everything figured out, it means showing up even when you don’t.
(Featured image by Ryan)