Returning to faith

Hi everyone, I was born Sep. 30th 1988, was raised Christian mostly in southern baptist churches. My family has a long line of pastors, I have a brother that is a youth minister, my mother and her siblings sang in a gospel group all over the southern united states throughout my childhood. I grew up in churches every day of the week almost. Never missed a sunday or wednesday night. Vacation bible school every year. I was very convinced in my beliefs all the way up until 2011 when I was confronted by a childhood best friend with some questions, which opened up into a discussion and debate over the next several years of my life. This time period is why I know and love Ravi’s work so well. I met my wife Allie is 2012, shortly there after we got married and in 2013 we had our daughter, I know, we moved very fast. During late 2013 I would say is when I started viewing the world from both sides of the fence. My discussions with my friend and others online opened my eyes to the reality that people of different beliefs and walks of life are capable of living good, happy and healthy lives. Something I bieved was impossible without going through God. I started seeing every situation in life from two sides and for a while both made sense. In 2014 my mother who was extremely strong in her faith, always lived a healthy life and was a wonderful woman was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She passed 8 months later. After this happened I really spiralled… After a period I finally admitted to myself that I was agnostic. The way I viewed things could not be unseen. Me and my wife began discussing these things openly some and I accepted and even loved the idea of her and I being so diverse in world views. I thought it was a great example of coexisting for our daughter. Though I do still believe that is important, me and my wife feel disconnected from our companionship and connection in faith. I realize I began viewing the world in absolutes when I know there is none. I am seeking to find my faith again and regain my connection with my wife but in my mind there are so many things that are hardened and I’m not sure what will change the way I view those things now. I need guidance, I’m so lost. I only know I want to seek some sort of middle ground. This where I am now, please help. This is why I came here.

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Matt, thank you so much for reaching out through Connect. First of all, I want to say how sorry I am for your mother’s passing. That must be so difficult. Thank you also for sharing so vulnerably about your faith journey. You are not alone.

It must be so challenging to navigate family relationships (with your wife and daughter) when you don’t have a common foundation. I can only imagine how exhausting it must be. I am sorry for your pain.

Something you said about absolutes reminds me of some of Ravi’s talks where he talks about the necessity of absolutes. I recall a particular story where he was challenged by a Hindu (I believe) convert in America that his (Ravi’s) thinking was too westernized and that true eastern thought prizes a “both, and” way of thinking. I cannot recall the turning point in the conversation, but at the end the gentleman confessed that the “either, or” way of thinking does seem to emerge. Ravi then replied that surprisingly even in India, when crossing the street, it is either the bus or the person. I am not sure if this speaks to your inner conflict with absolutes, but it certainly spoke to me.

I want to encourage you that by reaching out because of this heartfelt desire to embrace faith in Jesus, He will never turn you away. He sees your heart and knows your pain. He wants nothing more than to embrace you and welcome you back.

I myself grew up in church as well and it wasn’t until much later that I realized the faith of my childhood was based on blind belief. Ravi and his team helped to open my eyes to real and persuasive arguments as to why it makes sense to believe that Jesus lived, died and rose again not just for all of us, but for me, personally.

I am so thankful that you are here, Matt. I will be praying for you and your wife and daughter that you find the answers you are seeking, but more importantly that Jesus will make His presence real to you.

May God bless and keep you, brother.

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Thank you so much for your kind words. I have become comfortably numb it seems in this state of mind. There are ways in which I view life that make perfect sense to me and realities about life that aren’t fun that I have accepted. For example to me now I see a sacredness to life being that this is the only life we have. I am convinced that consciencness is just a biproduct of how the human mind works. Biology created me therefore I am here. My consciencness was developed because of biology and when I die so too will my consciencness. I’ve accepted that reality and in a way I see life as simply this short period of time we have in space. To live life to the fullest being the best human I can be without judgement, with love and respect for all life on earth. My childhood faith was a very blind faith. I grew so closed minded to other walks of life. I truly believed certain types of people were just doomed and I had the high ground. I feared parts of life because of the consequences I believed awaited me. I was convinced that happiness and success could only be obtained through faith in God of the bible. I was taught that my marriage would fail if I did not put God at the head of my marriage, then me, then my wife and so on. I began to doubt those things when I was opened up to others that have a different faith or none at all that are successful, do have happy marriages and are geuninely great people. I never became harsh or judgemental towards people of faith and never wished belief in God away. I feel as though like many other things in life faith for some is like a medicine that helps them through life. I just simply began to think that life in general isn’t that complicated and that I am capable of thinking and making good choices on my own. That is where this wall is for some of my struggles personally right now. My wife has felt alone in her faith for years now and I didn’t even realize this. She buried that part of herself for my comfort after my mother’s death. She kept dormant and prayed for me that I would come to realize I need my faith back and that we could once again be one flesh. But in that process she feels like she lost not only the man she married but a huge part of herself. So I’ve began self reflecting on my views and opening back up the books to where I was when I left.

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Matt, I am so encouraged by your motivation to self-reflect and to grow despite the inevitable challenges and even pain that is involved. Your love for your wife is beautifully evident.

It sounds like you felt betrayed by your early beliefs. That must have left you feeling hurt and empty. I, too, knew the pride of feeling like I had the “high ground” and that others with different beliefs were “doomed”. I heard all of the Bible stories and sang all of the hymns, but I never really “got” what Jesus was all about. Worse, I didn’t even realize what I was missing. It left me with a performance-based faith and I was full of pride.

I am interested to know more about your current beliefs and what aspects of the Christian faith don’t make sense to you now. What authors are you reading?

I will continue to pray for you and your family.

God bless you Matt.

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Yes thank you, I am not one to be concerned with wether I am right or wrong. I simply want to understand… that goes with everything in life for me. I also have come to the realization that I won’t understand everything in life. But my desire is to find my flaws and improve on them not to defend my position and prove anyone wrong. I seen a video by Greg Boyd that explain my early faith and what happened I believe perfectly. I was raised in what he called a “certainty seeking faith”… where for example my mom was so Strong her faith that she ignored early signs of her illness and even to the day she came to us she said “I just need to pray about it, God is my healer”… This is literally at a point that the cancer was so advanced that it had metastasized to her brain and was causing paralysis on her left side. It wasn’t until my mother could not physically play her piano that she admitted something wasn’t right. She was a beautiful and passionate piano player so it took that being taken away from her to say “ok something is wrong”… thats the sort of faith I was raised by. A very protected and insulated type of faith that’s effectiveness was deeply rooted in how much faith I truly had. Then one day I was confronted with question and had no idea how to deal with it. Doubt manifested and the journey then started for me. I struggled along for a year or so but ultimately found sense in the unknown and scientific reality of every situation without any faith or accepting any mystery that will likely never be answered. My view became “I don’t know therefore I live accordingly”… I’m not currently reading any authors but during my journey to where I am now I LOVED Ravi’s work. Also John Lennox. But somehow with the death of my mother I just gave up and found that reality was her genetics and biology resulted in her becoming ill and because she ignored signs her faith could have been one of the things that killed her instead of what she believed would save her. I had a new wife and 1 year daughter at the time of her death.

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Wow. That must have been so painful. I am so deeply sorry.

I totally get wanting to understand as opposed to trying to prove anyone right or wrong. I apologize if what I said came across that way. That was certainly not my intent.

I LOVE listening to Ravi and John Lennox too. You might aIso like Sharon Dirckx. She is a speaker with RZIM as well and I believe she is a neuroscientist. Another author/speaker you might find enlightening is Tim Keller. He has had a significant impact on my understanding of Christianity.

God bless.

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Oh no I did not take it that way at all. I apologize if I made it sound as though I did take your comment that way. I was just confirming what you said and adding to it. Thank you for the prayers and I will definitely check those two out.

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Glad there are no hard feelings😊. Looking forward to hearing what you think.

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I just watched Sharon Dirckx’s live stream from Sept. 10th on Am I just my brain… I needed that, very good. Thank you

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Glad it spoke to you.

Hello MSHARP,
I’m glad you are here in this group. I have recently joined as well.
Our relationship with our God is a journey. It is certainly a process of growing. He obviously is still holding you close even if I the recent past you have felt distant and removed. God promises that he is faithful even when we are not. He also stated through Paul, that nothing can separate us from his love.
With that said, I too have experienced these types of lows in my walk. I have gone to dark places that have surprised and shocked myself after the Lord had gotten my attention.
Needless to say, we have to grapple with these questions at some point to bring us from blind Faith to understanding of what it means to believe and trust God.
Some of this understanding of will come as a result of knowledge that we seek from scripture and other sources, whether it be phylisophical or scientific. Some of my deepest convictions come as a result of my personal interactions with the Lord and answered prayer.
I would encourage you to trust him in prayer for all avenues of life but to also be an active participant. Don’t allow yourself to sit back and say, God will take care of it. Although, there may be times that is needed.
With that said, I also like to read books pertaining to phylisophical, scientific and apollogetics.
One such book I have read a few times is “I don’t have enough Faith to be an Athiest”. It helped me to recognize the traps of self defeating arguments. It soured in me to understand that science doesn’t hold all the answers but that as Christian’s we can still use it to gain insight into our God and his creation.
Welcome aboard .
I look forward to see your posts as you continue to grow and explore along with us.
God bless.

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