Not many people like to talk about their seasons of doubt. It’s scary, it can be embarrassing, and it just doesn’t seem like something a Christian should go through, does it? But our faith isn’t always an upward climb. Like Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress, our walk of faith consists of trials, struggles, times of worry and doubt, as well as all the joys, fun, and sweet gifts from God.
Like anyone’s, my faith has had seasons of strength and seasons of struggle, but it wasn’t until two and a half years ago when we moved back to Germany that things came to a head. I had a 6-month old, 2-year old, 4-year old, and 5-year old, and we moved to a small village where we knew no one and had no family close by. Our church is far away, and we don’t know any believers near us. I sent my 5-year old to kindergarten for half days and stayed home with the other three while my husband worked long hours. I was utterly alone. Exhaustion started to set in. Isolation was taking over my heart.
Slowly, I started believing that I had no purpose in the world. My life didn’t matter. What was I doing in the countryside in a small village in Germany? No women took me up on my offers to hang out. I was rejected and hurt. Where was God? Did He truly send me here? My prayers seemed to bounce off the wall into the air of emptiness. I lost the deep sense of God’s nearness that I always had. I wondered if He was. If He existed.
Some days I looked into the sky and had to say out loud to myself that a God does exist because the earth exists. I would try to convince myself that He was and is. But I lost total sight that He cared for me and that He is sovereign. My crisis came gradually, creeping so slowly I didn’t realize it was happening.
As time passed, I became paralyzed in my despair and felt I had no one with whom to discuss these feelings and thoughts; despair had tricked me into believing I was alone.
During this time, I also had difficulty praying. I had no words, no belief. I listened to a particular worship album every day, almost constantly. It was Beneath the Canopy by the Village Church, and I highly recommend it. Listening to music strengthened me to get through each day and each hour as I fell over and over again into my pit of despair.
One evening, I was talking to Blythe on the phone. She knew from the way I talked that something was seriously wrong, that I didn’t sound right—the way she explains it is that my spark, my joy, was gone. After time and prayer, she came back to me and asked me to speak with a counselor friend of hers. I agreed and thus began the healing process.
My counselor listened to me and never judged; I really needed that kindness and safety. I was a crumbled pillar of faith, and she never condemned me! She walked me through the lies I was believing, and we discussed everything. She encouraged me, spoke truth to me, and supported me on the darkest days. I learned to articulate my struggles to my husband and sisters.
I can’t say that I am “fixed” or that I am even the same person I was before my faith crisis. And that’s okay; my faith has been deepened after being in that dark place of despair by learning how to lean into Jesus and by learning how to reach out to others and accepting their love. I learned that if you are in a season of crisis, doubting God’s existence or even doubting His promises and that He loves and tenderly cares for you, you can find grace by telling someone.
We were not made to live outside of community, separate from our brothers and sisters in Christ. God made us to be family and to bear one another’s burdens. I know that it’s scary to pick up that phone, write that email, or tell your friend over coffee. It’s hard. I know how hard it is. But it is worth it. Sharing this burden is the only way forward—it is the way of meeting grace.
Have you ever had a crisis of faith? How did God’s grace meet you in that place? Who is someone you could call on if you were have this kind of crisis tomorrow? Are you someone safe for others to call if they are struggling? How can you become the kind of friend that others can approach and trust?