6 Steps For Confronting Doubt as a Christian Parent

I long to have a faith of steel. I want eloquent, passionate prayers to spring forth from my adoring soul. I want to feel deeply connected to God when I pray, resting in the peace of His presence. I want to read Psalms and feel the majestic awe that David did.

But that is never how my faith has been. Persistently sandwiched between me and God is a layer of doubt.

I firmly believe and know in my heart I will never actually turn from God. The problem is, simply believing in God without fully living out faith is almost meaningless. Even the devil believes in God (James 2:19). Aside from my own spiritual well-being, I’ve become acutely aware of how my fluctuating faith impacts my ability to raise my kids to know the Lord.

If you regularly struggle with faith doubts, yet at the same time deeply desire to be a committed Christian parent, this post is for you. Here are 6 ways to keep your heart focused on being the Christian parent you want to be in spite of your innately doubtful nature. 

 

1.       Be aware of faith fluctuations.

 

I’ve noticed that my faith dips slowly, at a rate that I don’t notice until I’ve drifted far from God. If I weren’t very aware of my faith patterns, my kids would experience a constant fluctuation in the existence and strength of my spiritual guidance. Be aware of where your faith stands at all times so you don’t end up fighting to get back into spiritual shape (for you and your children).

 

2.       Understand your triggers of doubt.

 

While faith ebbs and flows for all Christians, as doubters we tend to hit rock bottom more severely.  If you can identify triggers that tend to lead to your faith crises, you can manage the triggers before they lead you there. Some examples include:

  • Being overly busy. (You get so separated from God that you misinterpret the distance as God’s absence when really it’s you who moved away.)
  • Spending time with certain people (especially unbelievers).
  • Getting lazy about going to church. (Worship and teaching at church are food for your soul; when you are underfed, your faith can become quickly malnourished.)

 

3.       Keep going to church.

 

One of the first spiritual activities to go when you aren’t feeling solid in faith is going to church. But nothing tells your kids, “We believe in God (for the most part) and think He’s really important (when it’s convenient)” like taking your kids to church sporadically or not at all based on your current faith status. Know that consistently prioritizing church is an important message of faith for your kids, and important food for your soul as you work through your struggles.

 

4.       Keep doing or start a Bible study with your kids.

 

Many studies have shown that you learn more by teaching others. I’ve found this to be very true when it comes to faith. In our nightly worship time, the simple act of explaining the Bible to my kids touches me deeply. Sometimes as doubters we get caught up in detailed questions. When we get back to core truths by teaching someone else about faith for the first time, it can open our eyes to the more simple answers we had been missing all along.

 

5.       Implement and schedule family worship time.

 

I’ve tried many times to schedule “God time” for myself so I would be more consistent with my devotion. The problem is, it’s very easy to cancel plans with myself. It is much more difficult to cancel planned time with my kids because they are counting on it and will ask about it. By implementing a set worship time each night with Bible study, singing and prayer, I am counted on by my kids to always live up to the expectation that it will happen. This strengthens them and me.

 

6.       Accept your doubting nature, but don’t be satisfied with it.

 

This is probably the most important thing, and it’s what keeps me from turning into an unbeliever. For years I struggled with the mere existence of my doubts, assuming they were not normal for a Christian and that I needed to work through them before I would be a “real” believer.

I found peace when I finally accepted that all Christians have some doubt, and the degree varies naturally between people. (Even the disciples, who actually walked with Jesus, struggled to understand Him and His message!)

Accept that doubt is both normal and OK.

There is, however, a difference between acceptance and satisfaction. Acceptance can lead to indifference: “These doubts are always around, therefore there is nothing I can do and I am giving up on trying.” Surely you will not find motivation to raise your kids to follow the Lord if that is where you land. You have to have enough dissatisfaction with your faith struggles to be motivated to constantly seek the Lord more fervently.

Finally, pray for God to not let your faith fail, just as Jesus prayed for Peter (Luke 22:32). I now pray this daily, knowing it’s both my faith and that of my kids at stake.

The fact that God won’t let my faith fail is the one thing I’m sure of.

Do you relate to struggling with doubt? How has it impacted your parenting?

 

14 Comments

  1. Rosann on June 26, 2012 at 6:56 AM

    Always so nice to stop by and read your thoughts Natasha. 🙂 I particularly like that you suggest family worship time because it’s harder to let the kids down than it is to miss it when it’s just for yourself. Also the sporadic church going. My husband and I were just talking this past Saturday about whether or not we would be going to church on Sunday. We settled on going despite how busy our day was going to be. The reason: We want to send our children the message that church isn’t just something you do when it’s convenient.

    Blessings to you and yours!
    ~Rosann



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on June 26, 2012 at 8:21 AM

      Hi Rosann! I was right there with you this Sunday. We had just gotten back from having been on vacation a few days and there was nothing I wanted to do less than get up and go to church. I lay in bed 20 minutes mentally fighting with myself over whether we could skip “just this once.” I came to the conclusion that if vacation means I don’t feel like going to church when I get back, then I just shouldn’t go on vacation. God has to be THAT important in our lives! I chose to go to church rather than cancel future vacations. 🙂



  2. Sheeba Mathew on June 26, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    This is a very well written encouragement of sorts…I like your suggestions and feel like you alot of them are real important in the growth of your spirituality….



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on June 26, 2012 at 7:03 PM

      Thank you Sheba, I’m glad you enjoyed it!



  3. David Crain on June 26, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    I have seen your evening devotion time with your children-it is a time of incredible beauty, faith and trust. Away from evening devotions, i have heard your 2-year-old children mention the names of Old Testament figures like Rachel and Abraham-a stunning display in the development of young lives. Bless you, Natasha.



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on June 26, 2012 at 7:07 PM

      Thank you so much. 🙂 I’ve found that they have retained so much more interest and learning now that we are reading their children’s Bible each night, which is “story” based rather than a conceptual devotional. Now those Biblical figures like Abraham really stand out. Tonight, Nathan was asking about Jairus!



  4. Jason on June 26, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    I understand this is for religious sake, but there is nothing wrong with doubt it’s natural and part of the human mind. Doubt is there for you when something doesn’t feel right, suppose not everything adds up, it’s the brain that calculates that and transmits that information into something objective. Basically what I am saying is embrace the freedom of doubt, for it shines the light of truth into the hazy conscience.



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on June 26, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      Hi Jason, I agree that there is nothing wrong with doubt – which is where I have gotten to as a place of acceptance. Whether a person believes in God or not, no one knows for CERTAIN if they are right, so the most intellectually honest position truly is to acknowledge room for doubt no matter what side you are on. For that reason, I don’t really agree with the statement that doubt shines light on truth. Doubt has to exist on any matter that someone can’t know for sure – in this case, the existence of God – so the mere presence of doubt can’t point to truth. One side or the other is true, but doubt must exist on both sides in the absence of certainty!



      • Bryan Crain on June 26, 2012 at 8:09 PM

        Every atheist I’ve ever met has said he is 100% certain there is no God. Yet the most faithful, deep thinking religious people I’ve known or read about (both Christians and Jews, including pastors and rabbis) all admit to struggles with doubt about God’s existence. It makes one think that the religious people have given this more careful consideration and are being more intellectually honest.



  5. Amy Henninger on June 27, 2012 at 4:07 AM

    Thanks so much for posting this. I too have had struggles in my faith, and I wish I didn’t. I deeply love the Lord, and want nothing more than to be the believer and person He wants me to be. And even more, I want my children to love, honor and serve Him. I am about to be a new mother again, Praise the Lord, and I truly hope and pray that I do better about teaching this child to follow the Lord than I did with my first daughter. I made so many mistakes with her, and the biggest one being that while I always tried to teach her about The Lord, I wasn’t consistent. Consistency I’ve found is key in teaching your children about Christ. If you have a lax or lazy attitude about teaching them, then they begin to feel the same way, and don’t make Him a priority. I am now remarried, and while I am still trying to teach my first daughter about truly loving God, I will also be teaching my new daughter about Him, and pray that she someday comes to accept Him into her heart and life. One thing is for sure…there is simply NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT than to teach your children about CHRIST!!! One of the best gifts we can give them is to show them and teach them His love. He is truly THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE!!! May His Precious Name be praised ALWAYS!!!!!



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on June 27, 2012 at 10:29 PM

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I completely agree with you, that consistency is critical. Consistency is perhaps most at risk for those of us who aren’t believers with “unwavering” faith. When we’re not intentional about consistency, it’s almost certain we’ll be inconsistent. 🙂 Congratulations on your growing family! And don’t beat yourself up about your past inconsistencies…you have many opportunities ahead to influence her spiritual growth!



  6. Amanda on June 27, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    I appreciated your insights. They couldn’t have come at a better time for me, as I am struggling with my faith like never before. I did however, have one question about the second way you suggested we keep faith alive. You state that we must manage spending time with unbelievers. I know that spending ALL of our time with unbelievers would be unhealthy for maintaining a healthy faith base, however, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are expected to spend time with unbelievers.
    I personally feel that my faith would be rather shallow if I avoided relationship with them. Any thoughts?



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on June 27, 2012 at 10:24 PM

      Hi Amanda, I’m glad you asked that – I had to re-read my sentence to see how it read because that is definitely NOT what I meant, but I can see why it sounded like that. 🙂 There are certain people I’ve encountered in my life who are so negative about Christianity and faith that I find myself constantly having to defend my beliefs around them. That can become draining and over time the wear-down can become a trigger to faith struggles. This is a problem that is specific to some individuals and relationships, however, and I didn’t mean to imply that that is the case with all unbelievers. Also, this is not to say that we should run from difficult conversations on faith. For example, I recently read a book written by an ex-Christian who is now an Atheist picking apart the Bible. I wanted to see the other perspective and I don’t want to live in a bubble covering my eyes and ears so I don’t lose faith. It is reasonable, however, to protect our hearts and manage those influences which negatively impact our relationship with the Lord. It’s a fine line between facing our doubts and protecting our hearts! Does that make sense?



  7. kelly on June 30, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    hello natasha! i just want to say i spend every day with an angry unbeliever, my husband! we have two childeren, a boy 9yrs and a girl 10 soon to be 11. i was not very consistant at all when they were younger. only these past few yrs the kids an i go every sunday. only lately have been getting more consistant with their bible study. trevor, an active boy, most of the time wants to hurry through it and olivia more into it. with dad being out spoken and very against christianity, feel trevor strugling. and this breaks my heart! i try to always tell them god loves daddy and to pray for him to know and understand his love. this weight can be exteamly heavy at times. since he is always sees my faults and noticeing all my mistakes can be very heard for him to even want to be a believer. the lord is my only rock and foundation! he has been superglue in this marriage. i describe my faith like a rollercoaster ride. up and down and never now what to expect around every corner! never never never give up!! no matter how heard it gets! kids need to see this too!