The Anxieties of Faith

I’ve been thinking a lot this past year about how faith is a risk. When you take a leap of faith, you hope that things will work out and that your faith will be confirmed, but this doesn’t necessarily happen. When you walk blindly into darkness, sometimes you find a path or a light, but sometimes you get lost. And sometimes you take a dive headfirst off a cliff you didn’t see. It can happen because your faith wasn’t strong enough; it can happen because what you had faith in wasn’t “true,” but sometimes there’s no clear reason for what happens after you exercise your faith.

There’s a leap of faith that I’ve been pondering recently which I haven’t quite managed yet. God and I are on much better terms than we were earlier this year, and I’m feeling immensely grateful to him for the recent peace in my life, but I haven’t yet been ready to trust Him fully. I’ve been talking to Him and asking for blessings, but I still refuse to ask Him to guide my life. And this past week I realized why it’s been so difficult for me to take this final step.

I don’t currently need guidance on most of the issues in my life. I have good relationships with my family and friends. I love my job, I’m pretty good at it, and I can sort through the complications of teaching high school by talking to colleagues, family, and my therapist. I’m dealing with some health issues, but I have doctors who are helping me, and things are slowly getting better. The issue I’m most likely to turn to God (and the place I feel His guidance would help because of my own struggles and blind spots) is the one subject that I have the most difficulty discussing with Him because of what happened in my life the past few years.

I can’t figure out dating and relationships–how people manage them is a mystery to me. I’m pretty competent in most areas of my life, but this is one thing that baffles me, and where I seem to run into walls every place that I turn. Because I feel like I can’t figure this issue out on my own, this is an area where I’ve often turned to God. Sometimes He gives me advice, and sometimes He doesn’t, which I think is pretty standard practice with Him. However, the past few years He got pretty involved in this aspect of my life. I pretty much did what He told me because I was stuck in a situation that I could not get myself out of, and I trusted Him. But doing God’s will added to my misery, and in the process I felt like He lied to me, or at the very least, allowed me to believe things that were untrue, which caused me immense amounts of pain.

Like I said above, things have improved since then, but I’ve reached a place where I feel like I need God’s guidance in my life when it comes to dating and relationships. He has guidance to offer (I asked). And I am terrified. I want to trust Him, I want to take that leap of faith, but right now I believe that if I walk into the darkness blindly yet again, I will take another headlong plunge off a cliff.


  1. Seraphine, I love you. When you say “God and I are on much better terms” I totally relate. I feel so guilty and inferior about that and I look at those who express total faith in absolute wonderment.

    I’ve thought a lot about this subject lately, about being obedient and still suffering and hurting. Where is the middle ground that some people seem to reach? Is my misery a part of my inferior personhood?

    Good food for thought here. I heard this in AA (paraphrasing): If you come to a cliff and leap, two things will happen, God will catch you or He will give you wings to fly.” It’s pretty. Don’t know if it’s true LOL>

  2. When I was working on an advanced degree, my dad died, my mom was disabled, I needed surgery but had no health insurance. Since I am an only child and have no extended family, I felt very much alone and didn’t know what to do.

    I turned to the only Source that could help me and surrended my life to Him. Over the coming weeks, as I prayed earnestly walking to and from the university, I talked to God. I came to know in a deeply personal way that God loved me and would direct my life.

    Surrending my life to Him allowed Him to direct my life in profound and simple ways. I trusted in Him completely to help me with my health, university experience, and dating. God gave me peace amid profound sorrow and directed my life in ways that still amaze me.

  3. I’d propose that the third thing God occasionally does

    is let us fall and then helps us pick up the pieces. He hasn’t always caught me or given me wings to fly.

    Seraphine, thanks for sharing. I feel that I can relate.

  4. I can relate in a way…have been counseled recently to seek more guidance, but it can be scary.

    I found a LOT in conference as food for thought in approaching my new leaps of faith.

    Thank you, again, for sharing. I was thinking about you and your experiences earlier today.

  5. Try practicing asking for guidance for the areas you don’t think you need help in. You might find that this strengthens your faith when you are practicing with something that you feel less lost about. For instance, let the Lord know what you are doing at all times and ask him to let you know if there is something else he’d like you to do.
    There are many areas that we are capable. I am constantly using my experience, my knowledge, my creativity to make good decisions. If I also leave myself open to the promptings of the spirit I can more. What I like most about trying to do this is that HE knows that I want to do his will and I know that I want to do his will. This kind of “attitude” is what brings me peace even more than knowing exactly whether each specific idea came from him or solely from myself because it ends up blending together and being the same anyway.
    I hope I’ve explained it the way I mean it.

  6. annegb, I think I agree with Kelly Ann–in the previous situation, I did not get wings or get caught. But God does seem to be helping me pick up the pieces. (Thanks, Kelly Ann).

    Carol, thanks for sharing. Submitting to God in this way is difficult for me because of what I’ve been through recently, but I have at times felt the peace that comes from giving my life to Him.

  7. m&m, there were some things in conference that really hit me as well as I ponder what do next with God. Glad to hear that your experience was similar–good luck with your leaps of faith.

    jks, your advice is good, and would work if I weren’t facing my current difficulties. I guess where I’m stuck is that I feel like I don’t really need direct guidance in other areas of my life (though, as you said, I think I try to open myself to spiritual direction generally), but that I currently do need more direct guidance with my difficult painful issues (that I don’t want to talk to God about). Also, I think me trusting myself and my instincts (which has happened from the distance that has been between God and I) has been a good thing, and I want to continue with this. So, it’s complicated.

  8. Seraphine, I feel like I could have written this post myself – at least the first two paragraphs. I may not have said it as well as you did, but I have the same feelings. Especially the part about having faith in something that isn’t necessarily “true.” I wrote about that here.

    I don’t really have any advice, but I think the fact that you’re concerned about asking God to guide your life shows an immense amount of faith. Because you really believe He will. That’s something I wish I had more faith in.

  9. Emily U, thank-you. I read the post that you linked to, and I appreciate you sharing your experience. While my experience was slightly different (God was involved in difficult ways in my life rather than uninvolved), I definitely can empathize with feelings of having God not living up to your expectations of Him. And while I trust that His guidance is there, it’s hard to take that leap because I’m so sure that I’m going to end up in more emotional pain.

  10. Kelly Ann, that is my experience as well let us fall and then helps us pick up the pieces. He hasn’t always caught me or given me wings to fly. I’m still recovering from that part of my life.

    I haven’t yet been ready to trust Him fully. I’ve been talking to Him and asking for blessings, but I still refuse to ask Him to guide my life. And this past week I realized why it’s been so difficult for me to take this final step.

    I’m interested in how you get to the next step. I still struggle with parts of that.

  11. If I figure it out, I’ll let you know. There’s a good chance desperation will prompt the next step. I tend to turn to God when I have no other options, even if I think He might mess things up.


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