Why do we lose faith and what might bring us back?
Faith is a belief in things that are intangible. We can feel the faith we have in ourselves, in our children and in God. But we cannot see it or touch it. Sometimes we can’t even describe it. A deep and abiding faith inspires us, moves us and may even give us the opportunity to become something better than we might otherwise have been. Faith can also give us the will and ability to endure hard times — to work through the darkest night and wake again with hope the next morning.
When you have questions, begin with what you can believe
Even very strong believers may have moments or periods of doubt. Just don’t allow your questions about one issue to destroy your faith in every other. Begin instead with what you can believe and then tinker with what you can’t believe at the moment. As someone who doubted, lost faith, and then years later regained my faith, may I suggest that moments of doubt are not times to throw the baby out with the bath. Wrestle instead with your questions, until your seeds of doubt sow new seeds of faith.
There may be some questions we have about our beliefs for which we simply have the wrong answers. At other times, our information may be imperfect. Sometimes what we think are facts are simply someone’s interpretation of the facts. So, as religious leader Dieter F. Uchtodorf said, “Doubt your doubts, before you doubt your faith.” Faith is a choice. We are made richer by faith and poorer by doubt.
When life gets difficult, remember that life is eternal
Some of us lose faith when life gets really difficult. We may begin to ask questions, such as “If God loves me, why this?” While it is true that God does not rescue us from every situation, it is just as true that he will always, always be there to heal us and mend our hearts. It is often in periods of sadness and loss that we feel his love and comfort the most. Believe that life is eternal, and then nothing is ever lost for good.
Where you find hypocrites, remember that we’ve all fallen short
Still others of us may become disillusioned with imperfect religious leaders or believers who we may term hypocrites. While God is perfect, none of the rest of us is. We have all fallen short in some way. Communities of faith should be places where good people come to learn to become better. Come, participate again, and add your faith and gifts to others of faith, that all may be uplifted together.
If you wander off the path, get back on
There may also be times when we lose faith simply because we wander off the path. Life entices us to turn elsewhere. We may find ourselves struggling with infidelity, pornography or addiction. Our guilt may then cause us to turn away from God and people of faith in an attempt to justify behavior that we know in our hearts to be wrong. Instead, use that guilt to motivate you to seek God’s forgiveness and get your lives back on track. It is never too late. Restore your faith in yourselves, in God and in others. Come home. Return to your faith and find peace.
If you haven’t left yet, wait a while
If you haven’t yet left the ranks of the faithful, but you’re considering it, think instead about waiting a little longer. Let some time pass. Wait and pray for a new perspective. If you feel tired, lost or alone, reach out. Love and be loved in return. Faith is at its best when it’s put into practice. Practice your faith and watch it grow and improve. Don’t let the sands of doubt destroy the bedrock of faith. Renew your faith, and then reach out and lift others.
Faith is a choice worth making. Choose faith.