When I was young, I never really thought about faith. I went to church with my family where I was taught scriptures, principles, and ways to live. I never questioned it, but I also never examined my own heart and thoughts to see if I truly believed.
After leaving home for college, my relationship with my faith varied. I went through roller coaster periods of half-hearted indifference, mild commitment, and complete devotion. My faith was largely influenced by people around me and my current situations, but never from my heart.
When I finished college and moved to a new city for my career, I was suddenly faced with challenges I never imagined and surrounded by people who thought differently than me. I had always been taught to turn to faith in situations like these; however, when I tried, I suddenly realized how weak and unfounded my faith was, and how unsure I felt of my beliefs. I felt like my bubble of comfort had not simply popped, but had shattered in a fiery explosion.
With all my new thoughts and experiences, the little faith I had slowly deteriorated. I realized all of the things about my church and its beliefs that I didn’t like, and stopped attending. I never stopped believing in God, but I stopped believing He cared. I started to go my own way, and for awhile I felt free.
I had read and heard many stories where people had somewhat big and miraculous returns to faith, and in the back of my stubborn mind I only wanted to believe again if I had one of those experiences. But my return to faith was simple.
I was driving home one night with conflicted thoughts. I had become very unhappy, and after trying for months to figure out why, I began to wonder if it was because I had abandoned my childhood beliefs. I was thinking about all the things I didn’t like about those beliefs and why I was angry, but then my thoughts turned to the things I loved and missed. Suddenly the thought came into my head, “What do you want to believe?”
Before that question came into my head that night, I had never understood that pursuing my faith and beliefs was a choice. Even though returning to my faith was the more difficult road, I decided to take it. I realized that I wanted to believe the good things about God and my faith more than I believed the negative things.
I don’t think my story is unique. Since faith is a belief in things that aren’t always visible, I believe it’s natural to struggle and even to stray. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I’m grateful for my questions and my discomfort with my faith, because they have caused me to continually examine my life and truly decide the path I want to follow. Leaving my faith helped me realize that the only way I can truly believe something is to examine it thoroughly and firmly decide why I believe.
My return to faith has been difficult, and likely will continue to be so, but the difficulties have made my faith so much deeper and more personal. I have discovered greater happiness with my faith than without it, and I believe that is largely because I continue to choose my faith, despite the things I don’t like or don’t understand. Questions will always come, but now I know that those questions can feed my faith instead of diminish it.
Katie Steed is a graphic designer who also loves to write. In her spare time she’s either biking, reading, or traveling.