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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is an important part for some. Our Faith column is a place for anyone to discuss how faith positively affects their mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.
I find it difficult to write an article for the faith column, at times. I feel like those reading these articles expect me to have some wise words of encouragement and hope, or an inspiring message that will grow their faith in whatever season of life they may be walking through. I put expectations on myself to share some great insight into my faith.
Recently, I’ve been walking through one of the worst seasons of anxiety and depression I’ve ever experienced. I am weary and hesitant. Holding on to my faith through this period has been difficult, as it has continued to be throughout my entire recovery process. I have no advice, no encouragement, and no inspiration to share.
Honestly, I have a lot of doubts about God’s goodness and mercy, especially when I face the suffering that comes with my mental illnesses.
If God is merciful, why do I continue to suffer like this? I doubt He is working in my life when it seems each day is a continuation of the despair of the day before. Why, if God is working, does He not change my daily trials? My depression and anxiety are persistent, and I wonder where God is and why He is allowing me to be overcome with desolation and fear.
Often, I feel I will be judged by the Christian community, because I am never irrefutably sure of my faith. Depression and anxiety easily upset my certainty, throwing me back into doubt and making me feel alone in the full pews of my church. I don’t speak out about my doubts.
It’s portrayed there is no room for doubt in faith. Faith is “complete trust or confidence,” whereas doubt is “a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.” The two appear to be mutually exclusive. How can you have faith if you are uncertain, and how can you doubt when you trust completely?
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My doubts cause me to feel inadequate and unaccepted.
They consume me and force me to hide behind a mask of faithfulness. I speak the words that are “true” when asked the questions, yet I do not always believe their validity.
How is it God’s mercies are new every morning, when I awake each morning with the same resigned weariness of depression in my soul? Does God truly have a plan to prosper me and keep me from harm, even as thoughts of destructive behaviors invade my mind? Where is the peace that lends understanding while my anxious thoughts are racing and vying for my attention?
When will God begin to work all things for good, while each day is still wrought with battles of crippling anxiety and depression that crush the life I have worked so tirelessly and unforgivingly to live?
As Christians, we think there is something wrong with us when we question the assertions made in the Bible.
We deem we are wrong, inadequate, and less loved for our doubtfulness. We feel we are outsiders, masquerading as though we belong in a foreign land.
I like to be certain. I like my world to be in order, for my life to go as I planned it. I like to be sure the ground is concretely and firmly underneath my feet before I take a step.
Yet, I live with mental illness, with good days and bad days. My world is uncertain, dynamic, and abstract. I live a life that is not black and white, where I vacillate easily between doubt and faith.
In this season of my life, I’m finding that I am the doubter more than I am certain. I am the non-believer more than I believe. I am faithless more than I am faithful. I am the prodigal daughter more than I am returned home.
I’m finding, though, as I begin to develop more acceptance for who I am in this season of my life, that this is okay.
It is okay to have questions. It is okay to have imperfect faith. It is okay to doubt.
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