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?