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Questioning God

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Is it okay to have an ongoing struggle with faith? In other words, do you, at some point, need to move on either way? I was watching the JK Rowling interview with Oprah the other day, and JK said that she struggles with God and faith. She’s said this in interviews before. I listened to her say that, and felt relieved by her honesty. I definitely think people can go through times of serious doubt, then suddenly something happens or changes in them and they have their faith back, maybe it’s stronger than ever. I don’t know. But people are different. We feel differently. We react to things differently. I think some people go through times in life when their faith feels dead (recognize that I said, feels, not necessarily is). When I think about my relationship with God, I try to think about my relationship with people, specifically Jeff. With Jeff, I am in an ongoing commitment. Whether I feel like I love him or I don’t–I’m never going to leave him. (Lucky for us, I can’t imagine not loving him.) There are days when I feel loved by him, there are days (not many) that I might not feel that as strongly. I definitely have those moments with God. But it’s comforting to me to think that how I’m feeling doesn’t necessarily have to change my commitment. It’s like the vows you make on your wedding day, they don’t dissolve easily. You can ignore each other, be angry with each other, even stray from each other–but that covenant between you is going to be there until some drastic measures are taken.

If you’ve ever seen the movie The Painted Veil (Edward Norton), you know there’s a scene where the Mother Superior is talking to Kitty. I found it so profound. Here’s what she says, “I fell in love when I was 17… with God. A foolish girl with romantic notions about the life of a religious, but my love was passionate. Over the years my feelings have changed. He’s disappointed me. Ignored me. We’ve settled into a life of peaceful indifference. The old husband and wife who sit side by side on the sofa, but rarely speak. He knows I’ll never leave Him. This is my duty. But when love and duty are one, then grace is within you.”

It’s that line “He knows I’ll never leave Him” that strikes me. But no one wants to live forever without the passionate side of that sort of relationship. I’m reading Crazy Love right now by Francis Chan. It’s an encouraging, challenging read. But sometimes, for me, reading about how God feels about me doesn’t do all that much. Like in anything, I want to feel how much he loves me. Not just listen to other people tell me how God feels. I wish God would tell me. You’re probably thinking I should read the Bible–God’s love letter to me, right? Yes, I know. His love letter to me and 6 billion other people. I’m not trying to say it’s not God’s own words to me–but if Jeff writes me a love letter, obviously it’s for me alone. Do you ever feel like you want that from God? Him speaking to you alone? Just a conversation between you and Him? And you might wait and wait and never get it? There’s a Scripture verse that says something to the effect of “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” I think that can happen in a relationship with God, just as much as with people. You become heartsick when your hope is never realized with something tangible. You get tired of waiting. You lose hope. You become indifferent.

So, do I think it’s okay to live in this kind of struggle with God? I don’t think it’s ideal, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I don’t think pretending to be different from who you are works for anyone. I don’t think ignoring your inner doubts gets you anywhere. I do think God is more patient that most people. And that is something I’m sincerely grateful for. I can expect people to run out of patience way before God does.

I decided to try something new. I think it’s a step in the right direction. I’m at least going to be open to seeing God do something. I’m going to be actively looking for movement from God. It’s not about wanting proof from God. He doesn’t have to give that and waiting on that is a never-ending game of almost certain disappointment. It’s about believing He’s actively a part of this world, and watching for the ripple effects of His involvement. We’ll see what happens.

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About Brandy

Brandy Bruce is a Bookvana award-winning author, editor, wife, mother, and someone who really loves dessert. She has a BA in English from Liberty University. She currently works as a freelance editor--reading, writing, editing, and making good use of online dictionaries. She's married to Jeff and has three beautiful children.

12 responses »

  1. Hebrews 11: says” Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” I would add that faith is also knowing that we have what we do not necessarily “feel”. I believe that every true believer longs for more of God that what we can see, feel, hear, taste, experience on this side of heaven. If not, then what are we hoping for on the other side – more of the same?
    Keep pressing on. God reveals himself in big and small ways, but the best is yet to come!

    Reply
  2. I recently read Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans, and she talks about this concept. It’s a great book! In the end she concludes that we should ultimately question our beliefs about God, rather than questioning God himself. But, she does lay some pretty controversial topics on the table as far as fundamental evangelicals are concerned.

    Reply
  3. This short post says more to me (and many others) than most “spiritual leaders” seem able to muster.

    You are a treasure. Oh, that more people knew it. Your honesty, bravery, and intelligence are unquestionable. Remember, God is not human. He sees who you really are and he knows who he really made–even when you don’t see her as clearly.

    If you really want to find him, you will. If you don’t, you won’t. Either way, your answer starts with what you really want.

    Reply
  4. Brandy- this is one of my favorite posts from you. Your authenticity truly shines through. I’ve been going through my own struggles of faith and it’s comforting to know others do as well. We’re not alone. And God cares.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. Keep up the awesome blogging my dear friend 🙂

    Reply
  5. . I enjoyed your writing and would like to leave you with these few thoughts. Neale Donald Walsch is not the only one who has conversations with God. I have been talking, questioning and getting answers from God for some time now. We all can talk (or journal) to God if we accept that we are always in union with God and when we are ready to listen deeply, patiently with a right mindset and loving heart. I write a blog called; … questioninggodblog.blogspot.com. Check it out.

    You also mention wanting; “Just a conversation between yourself and God?” “I don’t think ignoring your inner doubts gets you anywhere.” “I’m going to be actively looking for movement from God.” …I can suggest that journaling and meditation with patience will get you to where you want to be. It worked for me.
    Richard

    Reply
  6. Hi Brandy!
    Just stumbled upon your blog via Seeded Buzz! I love your thoughts on faith! My blogging partner and best friend since we were 3 yrs. old (we are babyboomers) do not agree on everything regarding theology, but we are respectful of each other’s opinion. I’ve really wanted to explore more of what I believe, but have feared getting into theological debates—but I also don’t want to get so “generic” that what I write is lifeless and insipid.

    I recently discovered a talented young pastor who is using you-tube to deliver his short entertaining expositions on faith! He is quite remarkable, but not generic (he is an unapologetic, conservative Lutheran), but I find his approach and delivery quite remarkable! His name is Jonathan Fisk
    -revfiskj I think. Anyway, he is easy to find on youtube
    Love your blog! It is fresh and interesting!

    Reply
  7. Brandy—

    I just went through this….and needless to say, God for sure won! When I thought He was gone, He really was just listening and watching. For me….I realized I was letting way to many other things take center in my life, things that I knew I shouldnt be doing, I think thats why God became so silent for me. In the end it was more myself ignoring Him and not doing the things I knew needed to be done for a stronger relationship. I think we all go through dry spells and even that thought “How can God love me while he loves millions of others”?……….Amazing though is how my human mind cannot really understand this awesome God we serve….or contain how much He really does love me and you…:)

    Reply

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