O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


Dana Ellis: Haunted by Questions

posted by Jason Boyett

danaellis.jpgA few weeks ago, my friend Adam Ellis contributed to the Voices of Doubt series of guest posts here. He’s not the only thoughtful writer in his family, though. Today his wife, Dana, offers her perspective on doubt, uncertainty, and the compulsion to ask questions.

Dana blogs at Thoughts on Life and Dirty Diapers, which has an excellent subtitle: Saying daily the things my mother said that I swore I’d never say.

Here’s Dana Ellis…

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The timing of this post is somewhat ironic. When I agreed to write it, I assumed I’d be past the crisis of faith I intended to write about. As it turns out, I’m still shoulder-deep in it, and trying to find a way forward.

It’s really easy to have faith as I sit in my own little world, with my loving husband and my healthy children, when my life isn’t being challenged and I feel like I’ve got God all figured out. If I could only find a way to keep my family and my friends from being touched by pain, I think I could keep up that charade. It’s easy to do when everything is bright and sunny and we appear to be God’s favorites…His “chosen ones.”

But today, I’m thinking about a friend with a sick child and a mountain of medical bills that just keeps getting bigger. I’m haunted by a friend who got laid off from his job, a friend who wants a baby but seems to be unable to have one, a friend who is in constant pain with no identifiable reason, the friend who is staying in an relationship with an adulterous spouse for the sake of her children…and the friend who just couldn’t do that. Today, I’m thinking about (dare I say it?), the friend who is gay and didn’t ask to be.

Usually, I’m the person I’ve described in the beginning of that last paragraph, living a bright and sunny life on cloud nine, with a living and vibrant faith in a loving God. However, when that life is disturbed… when I’m in my darkest, most private hours, there is no mistaking how small my faith really is. A few months ago, my family lost a member to a life-long fight with Cystic Fibrosis. It was a long fight, fought by one of the most faithful of God’s followers that I’ve ever known. A fight that looked like was going to be won. Then, in a sudden turn of events, my 39-year-old cousin was taken from us. I sincerely prayed prayers of confident faith that should have moved mountains. But for reasons that I don’t understand (and that, in all honesty, probably wouldn’t give me any comfort anyway), it appears to me that, at least for now, those prayers were not answered.

My questions about God and faith may not be those pondered by the average skeptic, but they’re struggles nonetheless. I’m not sure that I have ever, in my life, doubted God’s existence. Did you know that when an infant is born prematurely, its mother produces a different milk than what is produced for a full-term baby? Did you know that the milk produced in that situation is especially suited for that baby at that age? For me, even the small glimpses that I catch of the complexities of our world point to a Creator much greater than myself, and to an intentionality that isn’t explained by chance or chaos.

Even though I have confidence in God’s existence, I’m often plagued by two questions: “Does God know what He’s doing?” and, if so, “Is He actually good?” I realize that those questions may appear disrespectful to God, and perhaps they are. But, I have this hunch that He can take it. Besides, the fact that I just admitted that I have those questions and asked them “out loud” doesn’t make them any worse. God is already very aware of them.

In truth, these questions have taught me something. I am learning that my following Jesus is about a lot more than finding an escape route from Hell..or death…or pain. I want to be on the side of what’s true and pure and good. When I look at the wonders of this world, I feel as if my choice to follow this God was right. But on other days, when the pain of the world is what I see, I’m haunted by questions. In my heart of hearts, I believe that whatever this is that we’re all a part of — this thing that we’re all trying to make sense of — is going to be overwhelmingly obvious once we are truly able to see the full goodness of God. I think we may even be somewhat amused that we never even entertained an idea that was even close to the reality of how it all works together and how good this God is. But for now, God’s goodness is so out of reach from my limited perspective, that I don’t think I could comprehend it, even if it could somehow be fully explained to me.

So for now, I step out and follow Him, admitting that some days, I’m uneasy about it all. In the end, I’m thankful that following Him requires faith and not sight; trust and not certainty; hope and not total comprehension. I’m pretty sure that faith cannot exist without questions, and I’ve got enough of those to go around.

————-

Thank you, Dana. You can keep up with Dana at her blog or at The Mom-tage, where she’s a contributor. Also find her on Facebook.

Previous posts in the “Voices of Doubt” series…

Rachel Held Evans on Works-Based Salvation
Winn Collier: Doubt Better
Tyler Clark on Losing Fear, Losing Faith
Rob Stennett on the Genesis of Doubt
Adam Ellis on Hoping That It’s True
Nicole Wick on Breaking Up with God
Anna Broadway on Doubt and Marriage



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Tina

posted September 3, 2010 at 9:39 am


Dana,
I can so relate to your times of doubt. I think that is why I enjoy searching the scriptures. Throughout the pages we can find “strong, faithful, believers in God” doubting. I feel God knew that we would have doubts and expects us to question and search! David questions, Moses, Thomas, Martha, Mary, Peter, Paul, and the list goes on! I thought the older I got the clearer my questions; such as seeing more of His total plan in my life would “just happen”. I do admit that I see golden threads of His plan in my life, but as my personality is, it’s doesn’t always seem like enough!!! I am finding the older I get the more I don’t know. When I was younger I totally knew the answers….then I grew up! God is showing me that many things I believed have more sides than I saw at an earlier stage in my life. I continue to be amazed at the “newness” that I found while searching the scripture and seeing His workings in my life!
Thank you for you honesty and your thoughts! ~Tina



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mpt

posted September 3, 2010 at 9:53 am


Thank you for this, Dana. As I write the last essay to my book today, your words have given me inspiration and encouragement…
Thank you.
Matthew



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hyperactivelu

posted September 3, 2010 at 11:15 am


Love you girl! Thanks for being open and honest!



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Matt Wilson

posted September 3, 2010 at 11:17 am


Dana,
Great post…your last two paragraphs gave me chills.



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jeff fleming

posted September 3, 2010 at 11:34 am


“I believe, help my unbelief” has become one of my favorite sayings. I am convinced faith is a journey and not a destination, thanks for helping remind me that there are many of us traveling that road. Thanks for your observations.



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Kathryn

posted September 3, 2010 at 11:39 am


I struggle with many of these same questions (especially as a “wannabe a mama & it isn’t going to happen”). I see so much good in the world, & so much that is not good by any stretch of the imagination. And of course, the age-old question, “Why doesn’t God just fix it?”
One scripture touched me recently. That was in the parable where the enemy of the land owner sowed thorns/thistles among the wheat. The servants wanted to pull up the weeds, but the land owner wouldn’t let them, telling them that they might injure some of the good produce by doing this.
That still doesn’t address all my issues, but i have to trust that for some reason, for God to “fix” it all right now would do damage to many. I have to trust that he will bring it all right ultimately, but the lack of doing it now is best.
I don’t know that i’ve much faith these days, & i do have a lot of doubts. I can’t seem to fix that either. But my choice is to trust. I do trust that it will work out ultimately. Even tho i so often don’t like what i see or experience.
http://kateekat.blogspot.com/



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Jessica Turner

posted September 3, 2010 at 11:45 am


Thank you for your honesty. I loved what you shared.



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Ashley Blanchard

posted September 3, 2010 at 1:39 pm


Thank you for sharing, Dana. I, too, have lately been in similar struggles, and I know many people who are feeling the same way. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this post on FB. ;)
Ashley



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Mandy

posted September 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm


You are always so very eloquent and honest with your thoughts. Thanks for sharing. :) Love ya!



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Denise Bettencourt

posted September 3, 2010 at 3:09 pm


I read your writings quite often since Adam frequently links your blog on Facebook. You manage to say so well what so many of us are thinking, feeling, and yes, questioning. Thank you for using your talents for your God, your family, and your fellow-believers!



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SLB

posted September 3, 2010 at 3:13 pm


Thanks for sharing. I totally understand your struggles. The more I see of life, I definitely believe in a creator – God, as people call Him. However, I doubt his goodness more and more. Having grown up in a fairly affluent area I’m used to the Christians of the suburbs…wealthy, educated, beautiful, successful. It’s easy to think God is good. But when you go out into the “real” world there is so much despair and so much inequity, I can’t believe God is good. And don’t get me started on hell. It’s so fear based. I try to believe God is good, I really do, but the evidence, to me, just isn’t there.



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Lynn

posted September 3, 2010 at 4:02 pm


Dana, I so identify with what you have written that it brought tears to my eyes. You so eloquently identify and express the issues with which many of us struggle. I’m blessed to know you and even more blessed that you married my son. – Lynn



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Rachel H. Evans

posted September 3, 2010 at 4:41 pm


Wow. What a beautiful, honest post. I have a feeling we are kindred spirits, Dana. I’ll definitely be stalking…er…following you on the blogosphere from now now! :-)



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Denise

posted September 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm


You always put my feelings into words. This day has been one of those days that I have wondered- How can this happen to such a faithful family and then- what am I supposed to learn from this, because I hope I do it soon! Thanks for sharing. I love you!



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Fastthumbs

posted September 3, 2010 at 7:50 pm


When I read this blog entry, I kept thinking about this U-Tube video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd7iXASIOdA – “The storie of Suzie”



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Bernard Shuford

posted September 3, 2010 at 8:11 pm


Wow, so well written, so articulate, and so accurate.
Thanks so much for sharing.



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Missy Spivy

posted September 3, 2010 at 9:35 pm


Your honesty and your writing has moved me and prompted me to think more deeply about my relationship with God! There are so many things that we can’t fathom about our wonderful God! Thank you for your enlightening and thought provoking words!



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Sheryl

posted September 5, 2010 at 2:12 am


Thanks Dana for sharing your thoughts. I think that as we reach the middle of our life we begin to truly encounter life or at least begin to have our blinders removed and as this happens we are shaken to our core. I don’t think that is bad, quite the opposite really. It is now that I find myself trying to “put myself in some one else’s shoes” more often, or crying over a picture of a beautiful child who has a slim chance of living past elementary school age much less enjoying even the simplest of the mundane for me, or wondering what kind of legacy we are leaving our children by mindlessly throwing away that empty bottle of water instead of simply keeping it with us until we find a recycling can. It is not a bad thing to doubt at all (at least I really hope not), but a very natural thing instead. In fact, I’m kinda counting on the thought that doubt will end up leading to a faith that I never imagined before.
Anyway, I love your thoughts and the way you express yourself in words. You, and Adam too ;), always make me think of things in a way I haven’t before and I truly appreciate it. I send love to you and your family.
Sheryl



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Sue

posted September 5, 2010 at 6:44 pm


Wow Dana Everytime you write a post I am so amazed at how you can put your feelings into words like that. I am even more amazed that I am your mother and I can’t put any of my feelings into words. Lol but I am very thankful you can. Made me cry but was a good cry.I love you more than you will ever know and am so proud of you. Mother



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Anne Reynolds

posted September 6, 2010 at 9:36 am


Dana,
Thank you for sharing and being honest about your response to the difficult situations and questions of life. I have gone through a crisis of faith myself, and by God’s grace, my faith is stronger than it was before. I have learned that pain, while it is something not ever desired, is not our enemy; sin is our enemy for it blocks our fellowship with God which is the only thing which will sustain us through trials. Knowing God and abiding in Jesus Christ is better and sweeter than anything this world can offer.
Anne



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MARTIN S.

posted September 6, 2010 at 1:43 pm


Be assured GOD knows your name,
knows the number of hairs on
your head; HE cares deeply, HE
loves greatly and nothing in
this life or this world can ever
separate us from HIS Love!!



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