Struggling with Faith

This week we received the following question from a friend in recovery:

Has anyone else ever struggled with their faith?  It seems like this is why I can’t get past step 2…How do I surrender when I don’t know if I trust God?  Has anyone else felt this and if yes, what helped you?  I’ve asked others but it seems to scare people so I stopped…hope it’s okay to ask here.

Yes!!  It is okay to ask!  So glad you did!  You are not alone.

Wow, can I relate to this question.  Yes, I have struggled with faith.  Yes, I have felt like I couldn’t talk about it with others because it might “scare them.”

At the last SA Lifeline Conference, Dorothy Marion spoke about Post-traumatic growth.  One of the concepts she mentioned was “Positive Religious Coping.”

She presented the idea that redefining our faith can be a helpful, and even necessary part of growing through trauma.  This felt like a huge relief from the shame I felt about the fact that I was struggling to reconcile my life experiences with my faith.

For me, here are some of the things that are helping me grow through a crisis of faith:

xsgapcvboju-dmitry-ratushnyUnderstand the difference between “religion” and “spirituality.”

Religion can be defined as “a collection of belief systems and moral values, often established by a governing institution.”

But spirituality is a measure of one’s intrinsic relationship with their God.

While certain aspects of my religion may seem unsafe or unhealthy now, I have found that working the steps always increases my spirituality.  When my religion might not feel safe, I especially need to focus on nurturing my spirituality.

Trust my Sponsor.

I love how Step 2 suggests that to begin, we only need to recognize that we are limited and we need help.

No matter how confused I am about who God is and what He wants for me, I can definitely admit that I am not the greatest power in the universe!

Even when it seems too scary to trust God, I can still wrap my brain around trusting my sponsor, trusting my group, and trusting the recovery I see in them.

Open my mind to “the Higher Power of my Understanding.”

Sometimes I struggle with the fact that the God that is presented to me via my religion doesn’t always jive with the God I have experienced in the private battles of my heart.

When this brings fear and confusion, I try to let go of the idea that I have to fit everything into somebody else’s neat little box, and I try to embrace the “Higher Power of my Understanding” today.

This understanding will grow and change one day at a time as I work my recovery and have different experiences with Him. But, for today, I can only trust my Higher Power as I know Him now.

And that can be enough for today.

I trust that He will reveal Himself to me as I work my program one day at a time and become more ready.

Keep trying.

Although it is sometimes tempting to want to throw in the towel and declare “God is not there!”, this is a battle that is worth fighting.  This is, in my opinion, actually the most important battle of your life. Keep trying.

Work your steps.

Surrender to your sponsor.

That is the best advice I can give.

Nothing that I have ever done in all my life, in all my religious activities, has ever brought me closer to the God of my Understanding than working the steps.

They have cleared my mind and heart from the clutter of my Self.

They have allowed me to see Him closer to who He really is.

They have allowed me to see myself closer to who I really am.

They have allowed me to see my husband, my children, and every other person on the planet more clearly.

Work your steps.  One day at a time.

You will be amazed at where they will take you.

Don’t give up.

How are you dealing with the struggles of your faith?

5 thoughts on “Struggling with Faith”

  1. Thank you so much for this article! It was so nice to hear that the redefining of faith is a helpful and even necessary part of post traumatic growth and like you, this idea has helped removed some of the shame I have had around this topic. I have noticed when I start to want to control my relationship with my higher power to fit what others say it does not work, but as I work the steps and surrender, my relationship with my higher power improves. Again thank you for this post, just what I needed.

  2. I was stuck too for quite a while when I finally realized I didn’t trust God anymore either. That’s when I started taking steps to gain that trust again. I asked the God of my understanding to help me trust Him again. I put myself in situations where a tiny bit of trust was necessary and I tried it out. Little by little I gained it back again. My relationship with God is definitely not the same as it once was, but I think it’s safe to say it’s better. Questioning is for sure OK!

  3. I’ve shared this analogy that my sponsor shared with me many times in group, and I’ll share it again here.

    She told me to imagine a tightrope walker, walking between two buildings high up in the air. You’ve seen him do it successfully so many times that you have no doubts whatsoever that he can do it without falling. He’s so good that he can even take a wheelbarrow across with him. She told me that belief is knowing that he’s going to make it across and not fall, but trust is climbing in his wheelbarrow and letting him push me across.

    That was the moment that I realized that, despite growing up with God in my home and life, and never doubting His existence, I had zero trust in Him, and I had a long way to go.

    One thing that really stood in my way was that, while I believed in grace and the Atonement, and that God could perform miracles and grant forgiveness, it didn’t apply to me, not really. I believed that my own transgressions were too great, too big to be reached anymore. I also believed that I was to do everything I could to fix the problem first, then ask God to bridge the gap.

    Even though this was, and continues to be, a very vulnerable experience, I have found that God–the God of MY understanding–truly loves me, and His grace is sufficient. I can still work hard to make amends and correct my mistakes, but I now go to Him first, and trust that He is happy to help me. This experience has allowed me to really get to know who God is, and receive a personal witness that all those things I hoped were true actually are. The only thing to do is to try, and be open to the many different answers that may come.

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