3 Steps to Build Faith

3 Steps to Build Faith

Maddy Stutz

image of a pen with a journal
You don’t just wake up one morning, light streaming in from the window, birds fluttering about, and jump from your bed with exuberance declaring “I have a faith!”

No, it’s more like a slow crawl from your bed as you try to slam on the snooze button one last time.

Getting faith isn’t easy, even though people put the phrase “have faith!” on repeat like it’s no big deal. It’s a slow, sometimes agonizing process that many people give up on, but in truth, it’s worth the wait. Having faith puts that pep in your step when you feel like you’ve busted a kneecap. It gets you to try one more time towards your righteous desires and keeps you smiling when all you want to do is crawl back into bed. Faith is the end result of a long journey, but makes the trip bearable.

But sometimes it can be hard to see the road to faith, or at least the end of the road. If you’ve found yourself in this spot, Martin Luther King Jr. has some wise words.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

So what is the first step? Honestly, it’s different for everyone. But if you’re having a hard time viewing that staircase, here are a few steps to get you started.

Identify the Doubt

What’s causing you anxiety right now? What’s making you worry? What’s filling you with doubt? Pinpoint an area of your life that’s weighing you down and take some time to ponder why it’s so hard. If you need to, find a quiet space to meditate or pray about the things that are bothering you, and ask yourself why these things are having an impact on your life.

Why are we doing this? Because in order to identify a solution, we need to identify the problem.

Find Your Mantra

Having a little saying you can repeat to yourself in times of trouble is a great way to dispel fear. Faith is a concept that’s been around since the beginning of mankind, and you can find motivating quotes across the religious or spiritual spectrum. Take some time to search them out and find a phrase or quote that speaks to you. Put this quote somewhere you can see it often, like your phone. Then when you feel that fear or anxiety begin to rise, just take a deep breath, and repeat after them:

“Having faith does not mean having no difficulties, but having the strength to face them, knowing we are not alone.” – Pope Francis

“If it can be solved, there’s no need to worry, and if it can’t be solved, worry is of no use.” -Dalai Lama

“For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” – Luke 1:37

Take Action

Now that we’ve identified the problem and have a mantra to keep us focused, let’s work on that solution. Write your problem down and start brainstorming ways to fix it, even the hard ones. What are the obvious ways you can fix it? The not-so obvious? Make bullet points until you have a solid list, then go through and find the solution that would be the most effective.

And now you’ll take action. You might be afraid, but that’s okay. Faith isn’t about not having fear, it’s about acting anyway. So take that solution and run with it, not looking back.

Faith isn’t a one-step process, and it’s also not a one-stop shop. In order to find and keep faith, you’ll need to practice over and over again. But that’s okay! With each step you’ll become stronger and stronger until faith is your first reaction to challenges, not fear.

As a writer, believer, and chronic Pinterest fail-er, Maddy believes that everyone has a unique message to share with the world, and enjoys finding new ways to strengthen her faith through different perspectives.

Finding Faith Through Doubt

Finding Faith Through Doubt

By Lauren Elkins, FaithCounts.com Contributor

doubt-of-the-century“The doubt of the century.”

When the Archbishop of Canterbury asked, “Is there a God? Where is God?”, the media frenzied on his doubts and labeled them with the phrase above. You can’t have doubts and lead a church!

That’s the feeling about doubt.

For example, James 1:6 reads, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

In your mind, does doubt keep company with fear and unbelief, three possible stumbling blocks for faith? If you or I had doubts, we must be in a dark place, spiritually.

Really? Must we?

If Archbishop Justin Welby has a doubt, has he lost his faith?

I believe that faith depends on, even demands, that we experience doubts.

In the hours leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus, Peter was asked about Jesus three times and three times, he denied knowing Him. After the third denial, Jesus “turned, and looked upon Peter,” as recorded in Luke 22:61.

He turned. He looked.

I’ve pictured this story in my mind. I’ve imagined the fear felt by the mortal man, Peter. I’ve imagined the darkness and violence of that night.

I’ve pictured how Jesus must have looked back at Peter. I pictured an expression of abandonment, disappointment, sadness, or maybe even disgust.

Perhaps not.

Perhaps I read it all wrong.

“And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.”

That’s it. That’s all that Luke wrote. There’s no sensationalized account of what transpired.

Only a few hours prior, Jesus had knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had suffered. He had bled from the pain. He took the sins of the world upon himself. Now He would know. Now He could succor.

Maybe instead, with His look, he told Peter, “I now know.” Could his eyes have been filled with love and empathy? He looked back at the man Peter, at the doubtful Peter, and perhaps His eyes were filled with understanding.

Perhaps he remembered. Perhaps He recalled a time when He had grabbed Peter’s hand as he sank into the Sea of Galilee. “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

He now understood Peter’s doubts. He now understood Peter’s fear. He now understood Peter’s faith! Peter stepped out of the boat. He walked on stormy waters. He felt doubt. He began to sink.

The power of doubt comes in how we choose to respond.

The boat was certain to Peter, a vessel built to float. Jesus was a man standing on the waters of a stormy sea. If Peter had given in to his doubt, let it overwhelm him and drive him back to what he knew for certain, he would have turned back towards the boat.

Instead, Peter reached out and called for Jesus.

Some may think it’s blasphemy to have doubts in your faith. Some may think you are transgressing to question the authenticity of your beliefs.

But, an attitude of certainty may lead to an attitude of self-righteous intolerance, dogmatism, and fundamentalism.

Embracing doubt can lead to deeper understanding through a process that strengthens faith. Flannery O’Connor, an American writer and essayist, described this:

“I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. A faith that just accepts is a child’s faith… [People] think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe.”

“Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Like the biblical father who said those words, Peter’s actions said the same: Jesus called; Peter stepped out; winds howled; Peter began to sink.

It was Peter’s doubt and unbelief that enabled him to grasp firmly to his faith.

Through doubt, I take on the necessary exploration of my beliefs.

I challenge those beliefs.

It is from personal doubt and unbelief that I then build the bedrock of my faith.

Lauren Elkins is a professional writer, former IT industry expert, and a mom. She also writes a personal blog and maintains a website at laurenelkins.com.