Friday, October 1, 2010

When Your Faith is in Shambles~ A Spiritual Article by Abby Massung

When Your Faith is in Shambles

Where to start…
  When you’ve been as messed up for as long and as badly as I have, the very last thing you really want to be asked to do is to write a spiritual column for impressionable teenage girls (sorry, but you all know it’s true, why’d you buy that new and very fashionable skirt for going back to school?). You’re afraid that you’ll end up passing on the rather jaded way you view the world to your readers. You find yourself wondering how you could ever manage to help other’s spiritual walks when just yesterday –or so it seems – you were cursing God for the life He’d dished out to you. Why, just a couple months ago you’d practically become a self-proclaimed atheist! How were you going to manage this, and really, what right did you honestly have to try? When your own faith is in shambles, where do you start?

  I think that when your faith is in shambles, the best place to start is at forgiveness. Why? Well, in my experience, I’ve learned that when things aren’t right between you and God, there’s usually someone or something that needs to be forgiven before your relationship with God can be healed. Whether it’s you, a friend or family member, or God, forgiveness has to take place.
  Alright, you might have caught onto the fact that I listed God in the needs to be forgiven list. You’re probably thinking, “Wait a sec, God’s perfect! There isn’t anything He could have done that requires forgiveness.” I know it’s not really something we think about and it sounds like it goes against everything you’ve been taught, but bear with me here for a minute and I’ll tell you what I mean.
    Forgiving God
  God can’t do anything wrong, that’s definitely true enough. However, we still tend to look at God wondering why He allows this or that a lot. After all, He runs everything, doesn’t He? So why couldn’t He have gotten you a job out of the fifty you applications you filled out this past summer, or maybe at least given you a boyfriend? Couldn’t He have kept that drunk driver from colliding with your friend’s car? He could have at least tried to keep your dad from walking out on you, or make the other kids treat you less like an outsider? He’s God, He could do it if He wanted to, if He cared like he claimed He did.
  That, right there, is where the resentment and hurt begins building up, just as if a friend had betrayed us. We feel hurt because something that we felt we really needed or wanted was withheld by someone who was able to give it to us and whom we trusted. We don’t know why He chose to not do whatever it was, we just know that it hurts that He did. He didn't do anything that was actually wrong of course; but our faith in Him wavers, and we question Him regardless.
  We definitely aren’t the first to think this way. Millions of people have felt this way over the history of this world. Most prominent, is Job’s story. Most people focus upon his faithfulness to God through his trials, but not so much on his doubts and declarations of abandonment by God.
  Let’s look at a couple passages:
   “I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm. I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.”
     -Job 30:20-23

  “He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store.”
     -Job 23:14

  "Have pity on me, my friends, have pity, for the hand of God has struck me. Why do you pursue me as God does? Will you never get enough of my flesh?”
   -Job 19:21-22

  Job didn’t understand why God was allowing him pain, just as we wonder today. People have been asking the same question we do for literally forever! It's ok to ask, it's ok to not know. However, we can't allow it to separate us from God. We can't hold a grudge about it. It's easier to accept things when we know why God did things, and sometimes we find out later why God allowed certain things. But, frequently, as was the case with Job, we don’t. We have to accept God’s choice, and forgive and let go of the hurt it caused. After all, we have God’s promise that He only does things for our own good.

   “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” 
       -Jeremiah 29:11

  And while you forgive God, ask Him to forgive your doubt in His desire to care for you. He'll understand. Remember, even Jesus had a moment of doubt.

  "And at the ninth hour Jesus cried, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' - which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'"  -Mark 15:34

Forgiving Others
  Did someone else hurt you? Whether it was a physical wound, or an unkind word, the pain is still there and extremely real. In fact, Emotional abuse is becoming more and more recognized as being as damaging as physical abuse in many ways. Maybe someone criticized your body, or maybe someone forced you into something you didn't want to do. Maybe your parent(s) have ignored you. They've given you everything you’ve ever needed, accept them. 
  No matter what it is, it'll likely take time (depending on how deep that hurt went,  and who caused it), but you have to forgive them for whatever it was they did to harm you. Trust me, you can't just let it go, you have to face the pain and then consciously forgive it.
Forgiving Yourself
  Ok, this one is definitely the hardest for me to do out of all of them, but also, it is one of the most important. You have to forgive yourself. Yes, you turned from God, so tell Him how sorry you are for doing that, and ask Him to forgive you. After that, don't dwell on it, after all, He isn't going to.
  Yes, those scars are going to be around for awhile, but the shame and regret that are haunting you because of them will only make things worse, let it go. You've done things you're not proud of, but so have we all. You can't keep punishing yourself for them when God's already forgotten and moved on. He wants you to move on too so you can enjoy a closer relationship with Him, but until you release your past, you'll never be able to.

  "Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth, shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." - Isaiah 43:18-18

  Do you feel that thrill of sheer joy? If you've just experienced forgiving God, others, and yourself; or you've at least started to, you probably do. That feeling is forgiveness and freedom, completely and totally. That's what release is like. It won't always be like this from now on. This is just a little gift from God, a sign that you're on the right track. This is where you start when your faith is in shambles.



  1. I love it! That was awesome and super insightful Abby! Yay :) God bless you!
    :) Nadia

  2. Hey Abby! This is Emily - THAT was AWESOME! I loved it - people love it when you tell the truth - even though we hate to hear it sometimes! Thanks for being straight with all of us girls in the dumps!
    Much love,
    fellow writer, Emily.

  3. I loved this article.
    I can totally relate with your dilemma, i seem to have been on a spiritual roller coaster this past year, with more downs then ups, so whenever I find myself having to give someone spiritual advice, I wonder how? But, God always gives the words - it's quite amazing. I'm sure He has a lot more in store for yoU! :)

  4. thanks for the comments everybody! glad u liked it :)

  5. This was AWESOME(:

  6. Right on! :D This is a lesson we all need to hear (and practice) again and again as we grow...thanks Abby!!!