What is a crisis of faith? To me a crisis of faith is any time anything (circumstances, ideas, people, desires, etc) challenges my current beliefs. When my beliefs are challenged I must wrestle with all of it and either see how the challenge really does work inside of what I believe or I have to adjust my beliefs.
It sounds pretty basic, but it’s hardly ever a fun experience.
I remember once I was sitting in a shared room with my friend Jessica. We were on vacation, we were young and we were up super late talking about the mysteries of the Universe, or men, or both. At some point one of us suggested, “What if we don’t actually exist?” What followed was both frightening and hilarious (in retrospect). Both of us could almost feel the floor of the room slide away revealing a black, sucking chasm beneath us. Although it couldn’t have actually happened this way, my memory shows the situation to me like we were both actually hanging onto the beds for dear life as the room rocked back and forth and objects began to disappear….
I would call that a momentary crisis of faith.
Lately I’ve been walking through a very different kind of crisis of faith. It happens pretty regularly, but sometimes I am taken by surprise with something bigger that colors each experience of daily life.
The other day I wrote in my journal (where I often talk to God), “Do I still love you if this is true?”
I bring up the question and not the specific crisis because I think it’s applicable to so many things in life. Many life situations will come to us like the serpent in the garden, “Did God really say…?,” “Is God really good?”
And like Adam and Eve, we are tempted to look narrowly at that one situation. We allow one hard thing to cover everything we know, change everything we believe.
I’m not saying that questioning is bad, or that we should just swallow everything without wrestling with it first. But what I am saying is that Adam and Eve actually spent real time with God in the garden. They knew him… in fact they knew only him and each other. Their experience with him thus far was one of beautiful communion. But they allowed one desire, one question to cover up everything else they knew. And they didn’t even talk to him about their struggle.
For this reason, I take my questions directly to God. I cannot just swallow my doubts, but when I wrestle with them, I invite God into the process. Similar to any relationship, you cannot decide about someone you love without any of their input. That is not a relationship, that is self-protecting, controlling and it will nearly always lead to believing partial, generic truths about complex, vulnerable people.
Will we love people and God for who they really are, or will we only accept them when they line up with what makes us feel good? The true path of love is much more painful, and much more difficult, but it is ultimately much more real and rewarding.