O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


Alise Wright: Shaken and Stirred

posted by Jason Boyett

Well, after 25 guest posts, we’ve reached a good round number for the Voices of Doubt series, and today’s post by Alise Wright will be the final one. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series as much as I have. To me, it’s been encouraging to hear from so many excellent writers and thinkers about the presence of religious doubt in their lives and how they’ve learned to live with it.

AliseWright.jpgI got to know Alise (“uh-LEASE,” like what you get with a car) around the time she interviewed me for an O Me of Little Faith review and giveaway. The book resonated with her because her husband had recently “deconverted” from Christianity to atheism and she was dealing with the fallout from it. I was fascinated by their story and have kept up with her blogging since. (Her post about celebrating Christmas as an inter-”faith” family is a great example of her work.)

So I’m thrilled to have Alise filling the final guest slot. Ladies and gentlemen…

————-

Nothing quite shakes the faith
of a doubting Christian like seeing your spouse turn from belief to unbelief.

Faith has never been my strong suit. I remember as a 7th grade student, sitting in my pastor’s office after one of our confirmation classes, crying as I asked him how we could know that our religion was the right one when billions of other people believed just as fervently that theirs was correct. I’m not sure why it had never occurred to me before that time, but it absolutely devastated me that I could be following the wrong religion.

As I became an adult and attended numerous churches in different denominations, my doubts grew. Infant baptism vs. Adult immersion. Yes women pastors vs. No women pastors. Homosexuality is a grave sin vs. LGBT affirming. Tongues are dead vs. Initial evidence. The incongruities even among those who claim to follow the same God caused me untold consternation.

But for most of my adult life, I was able to lean on the faith of my husband. He shared most of my questions, but his faith was unshaken. Because of that, I was able to push my doubts down and not really pay them any mind. They were there, to be sure, but I just ignored them.

All of that changed when my husband told me that he no longer believed in God. Every doubt that I had came flying forward. Doubts about our marriage surviving. Doubts about how our children would be raised. Doubts about how our friends and family would respond. And of course, doubts about my own faith.

Most of my concerns were addressed with relative ease. Becoming an atheist didn’t make my husband lose all sense of right and wrong. The thirteen years that we had spent together didn’t suddenly become null and void because we no longer shared a faith. We have always wanted our children to come to their faith on their own, so little changed there. Those close to us were supportive of my husband and of me.

But those” God doubts” weren’t as easily put to rest. When it comes to evidence for God, the pro-God side comes up pretty short. It’s hard to argue with a lot of atheist reasoning, and living with someone who is a former Bible college student who no longer believes, well let’s just say that I’m not anticipating winning any debates around here. In those early days after my husband’s de-conversion, I felt incredibly alone with my doubts. And often when you’re alone with something, you take the time to examine it more closely.

What I found is that doubt is more common than many of us in the Church like to admit. I was amazed at the community of doubters that I encountered when I can face to face with my own questioning. I had spent years assuming that the doubts that I had were rare, only to discover that there were many others just like me who had unanswered (and sometimes unanswerable) questions.

I also found that, as I accepted my doubt, my faith began to grow. When I treated my doubt as something that needed to remain hidden, it had a tendency to make me cynical, bitter and angry. When I admitted that it’s simply a part of who I am, I found I could move beyond it and search in a more authentic way for the God whom I love.

Having your faith shaken can be a frightening thing. But sometimes shaking is just what is needed to stir up something that has gone stagnant.

————-

Thank you so much, Alise. Keep up with Alise Wright on Twitter as well as her writing blog and her “Big Mama” blog and Facebook.

Previous posts in the “Voices of Doubt” series…

Ray Hollenbach: Learning from Thomas
Sarah Cunningham: Doubt as a Hook
Shawn Smucker: Doubt as Discovery
Jamie Wright: A Born Doubter
Trudy Morgan-Cole: The Squirmin’ Herman of Doubt
David Sessions: The Hard Work of Faith
Dean Nelson: Test Everything
Carlene Bauer: Prodigal Daughter
Larry Shallenberger: The Knight and the Fortune Cookie
David Dark on Sacred Questioning
Cara Davis: A Textbook Case
Matthew Paul Turner: Letting Them See My Doubt
Sally Lloyd-Jones: Where Did You Put Your Faith?
Chad Gibbs: When It Doesn’t Seem Fair
Leeana Tankersley: The Swirling Waters
Robert Cargill: The Skeptic in the Sanctuary
Dana Ellis: Haunted by Questions
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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Comments read comments(11)
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Katie M

posted January 21, 2011 at 8:32 am


Amazing post, Alise! I felt alone in my doubt as well, until I started reading blogs from people such as yourself that are honest about their questions and struggles. Feeling like I wasn’t a horrible sweaty heathen for my questions and doubts actually drew me closer to God than I ever was before. When I first became a Christian I think I was too afraid to ask questions, but part of having a real relationship with God is growing in knowledge of Him and His word. You can’t grow in knowledge if you don’t ask questions. Some questions or doubts can’t be answered. Science can’t definitely answer lots of questions, but it doesn’t mean that hypotheses aren’t created anyway.



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seekingpastor

posted January 21, 2011 at 8:38 am


Great post. Your difficult time led to greater faith, which is one of the things that we are told will happen when the difficult times came. More in the Church need to be shaken far more often–including me.



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Dustin

posted January 21, 2011 at 8:41 am


I especially love how during those ‘doubt seasons’, God has refined your faith. Thanks for sharing!



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Stephanie Kandray

posted January 21, 2011 at 8:48 am


Thanks for sharing. Being stagnant is a struggle of mine right now and it is encouraging to hear your story and how you are dealing with that amongst other things.



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kristinherdy

posted January 21, 2011 at 10:06 am


Doubt strengthens faith by fire, and even though the refining sometimes happens again and again, it’s the process that brings us closer.
I love that this series (which I’m just discovering) allows us to talk about what we’re not supposed to, to mention that we can express doubt without losing faith.



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frogla

posted January 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm


when my dh announced some changes in his faith, i was very skeptical, cynical, untrusting, and i sort of freaked. someone on his blog shared some info on how Christmas is pagan and it read like an LSD pot smoking trip. unbeknown to me, @ that time, he was being recruited into an online bible cult which i didn’t clue in until a yr too late. i think that the way i reacted made him dig his heels in deeper to this group. i know that my anger didn’t draw him closer to me. anyway, i did alot of questioning & doubting. i am fortunate to have a good buddy go thru all of this with me. my dh recruited her dh into this cult. she and i have doubted questioned and asked the church for help. the second church we went to was more than happy to help us but we had to do it their way and they never really let us feel right where we were @. we both got prayer partners and my prayer partner counseling and other support really got me thru the toughest time in my life. my attendance to that church abruptly ended when i found out that the pastor had given some of mine and dh’s private counseling information to another member. that church wants me to come back but how do i go back when i was the one who had to confront him & his apology was very weak. there were many good things about that church but he wounded me betrayed my trust knowing that this issue with dh is very sensitive. i’ve put down all of my anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc. i really have a peace and am very calm. dh & I are building a bridge rapport and trust with each other. it hasn’t been easy but it’s been worth it. I’ve grown to trust love and see God as He sees me. i know that i need a body of believers but i’m so afraid of mixing my personal life with prayer meetings etc. thnx for this awesome post!



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Kristin T. (@kt_writes)

posted January 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm


“I had spent years assuming that the doubts that I had were rare, only to discover that there were many others just like me who had unanswered (and sometimes unanswerable) questions.”
Ah, the wonderful moment of realizing you are not alone! And the wonderful irony of seeing your faith grow as you accept your doubt. It all started to become clearer to me a few months ago, when I wrote a post called “It’s not about crossing from doubt to faith” (which was actually inspired by a post Jason wrote). I had always thought of “faith” and “doubt” as opposites–two forces that were working against each other. Just coming to the realization that faith and doubt can go hand-in-hand was very freeing.
Alise, I’m so thankful for you, and thankful that Jason gave you this space to share your story. Blessings as you continue to live it out.



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Katie @ Imperfect People

posted January 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm


I love your honesty. Glad to find your blog



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Alise

posted January 22, 2011 at 9:02 am


Thank you all for your comments and especially thanks to Jason for this space where people have been able to explore doubt in a safe way. I know that I’m alone in needing permission to examine it.



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Joe Sewell

posted January 22, 2011 at 10:14 pm


Wow! I needed to read this, Alise.
I’ve just escaped a time of “shadow” and doubt myself. I intend to write my own blog post about it as soon as I can gather all my thoughts, as I presently know them, into something that anyone else can read. In my case I was convinced that I was the exception to the rule, and that there was no way I could be right with God.



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ETS

posted January 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm


After my ex-wife “deconverted,” she divorced me. In part, because our worldviews were just so fundamentally different that she didn’t see how we could be together. It has been beyond hard. I still love her and I sill desire to reconcile our marriage more than 3 years after she left. But her lack of faith and rejection of me and Christ sent me running to the only thing I knew to be true at that point in life – Jesus Christ. I know Him in a way that I didn’t know Him then. And it is beautiful and it is deep. I pray that He and I grow together from this point on. And I pray that my ex-wife can join us on this journey.



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