As a college student, I nearly lost my faith. It was my sophomore year in college and I was scared because I didn’t want to feel how I was feeling. For the first time in my life, I was having significant doubts about whether or not God exists.
I didn’t realize it at the time but these kinds of doubts are normal. In fact, they’re healthy. But, when you’re in the middle of it, it doesn’t feel like a good thing.
The reality is, if you’re a person of faith, eventually, you will have a crisis of faith. It’s common for college students to wrestle with this. Although, it doesn’t always come during college.
It may come after a difficult loss.
It may come during a difficult illness.
It may come out of nowhere.
If you are a person who has deep, abiding faith in God, you’ve most likely come through a crisis of faith at some point in your life.
I learned this as a sophomore in college when I was struggling to have faith. I remember how relieved I was when Chris, my campus minister, told me it was normal to doubt. He explained this by drawing 3 circles on a notepad. I’ve never forgotten those 3 circles.
He explained the circles like this…
1. The Outer Circle | A Simple, Untested Faith
There’s nothing wrong with this kind of faith. This is where everyone starts. This is the kind of faith my daughter, Eden, has. In so many ways, it’s beautiful.
This is the kind of faith I had when I got to college. I’m so thankful for all the people who helped to instill this faith in me.
This is a great place to start. But, it’s not a great place to stay.
2. The Second Circle | Doubt
The second circle represents doubt. As people work their way to that inner circle of deep, abiding, life-giving faith they (almost) always come up against doubt. In other words, doubts are normal.
Unfortunately, what happens for many people is that they come up against doubt, are scared by it, and retreat back to the outer circle and never experience the richness of a deeper faith.
If you’re having doubts, I want to encourage you to face your doubts with courage. Don’t be afraid to discover the truth. I know it’s not pleasant. But, in order to get to that inner circle, you’ve got to wrestle with the doubt.
3. The Inner Circle | A Deep, Abiding, Life-giving Faith
This is where you want to be. You want to have the kind of faith that is deep, tested by doubt and difficult circumstances, abiding, the kind that sticks with you, and life-giving, the kind that brings peace and joy like nothing else could.
In order to get to this point, you’ve got to face the doubts head on.
I use these three circles pretty often when I talk to students who are wrestling with doubt. Is there anything that’s helped you to work through your doubts? I’d really love to hear about it.