Faith Crisis – by Annelise

Every human is familiar with inner conflict. The sensations, emotions, thoughts, ideas, and values that we have don’t always align or work together. We try to find unified ways to think and live, and yet, internal conflict resolution doesn’t always come naturally.

During a crisis of faith for someone questioning and leaving Christianity, this confusion can be tumultuous.
Perhaps an inner voice of reason, mixed with fear, points out that it’s a serious question of salvation and faithfulness to God. “I can’t rest until I find answers.”
Yet the heart and body may be weighed down to their limit with anxiety and grief, and need times to rest. Times to be present and attune with the things that calm and enliven us.  Times to spread our focus more broadly on the things we need to do in our lives, for ourselves and for others.

The voice of reason may conclude, “There is no clear reason to worship Jesus, so I can’t.”

The heart may accept this, with eager love for God and truth. But maybe some part of the heart still says, “I want to cling to the person who seemed to be my loving shepherd, closest friend. I looked only to him to understand me fully, with unwavering love. I thought he was God! How can I stop seeing him as my comfort, joy, and hope?”

This feeling may not be logical, helpful, or acceptable. However, it’s fed by deep and legitimate yearnings for secure love, and may grow stronger if suddenly exiled to a distant corner of the mind.

Logic says, “I can’t be part of the church, then.” But for some people, something in the heart might say, “I don’t want to be torn from the belonging and friendship I’ve found in the Christian community. That’s where my place was, my identity, even my language for connecting with others. And my friends won’t see light on any other path I take.” If we had found a good community and let our roots grow deep, then there may be wounds and loss in separating from it.
One part of the heart says that it’s beautiful to seek God and truth with new clarity and freedom. A blessing to learn so much from the Jewish community, and finally let go of unjust beliefs about them. Perhaps another part of the heart is still in mourning.
And when the foundations of the faith we once had are taken out from under us, logic may ask if we can still see solid reasons to trust in God at all. When pain or fear beset us, though, something deep in the heart still calls straight to God, for help and shelter.
The conflict may be different in some ways for each person, but it does affect many of us.
What can we do with this? Without cooperation between our inner parts, we might become overly rigid, suppressing emotions and ignoring unfamiliar perspectives. Or we may become chaotic, letting strong emotions drive us unrestrained, or letting them cripple us. We might go back and forth between rigidity and chaos.
The more logical part of ourselves can help by becoming a gentle leader of decision making. Collaborating with and empowering the other parts within, rather than treading them down.
Without compromising what matters in the commitment to reason, we can still let our hearts and intuitions express themselves, rather than silencing them. We can let painful emotions be felt, and release them, in whatever place some beauty and peace may meet them. We can find our way in the overlap between what is right and what we desire. Only then may we be able to follow wisdom passionately, wholeheartedly, and with joy, in positive expressions of what we most yearn for.
The heart can lead too, by finding the rhythms of wellness in our lives. We can’t seek truth or serve God if we’re wearing ourselves out and losing our minds.
The music of wisdom balances deep thoughts with more ordinary ones. It alternates between effort and surrender. There is work and there is rest. There are short times of speaking, followed always by listening. Sometimes learning flows rapidly, and at others we grow slowly as the trees. The heart can find these rhythms, and gradually grow into them, when we pay attention to where we find wellness. We can only move forward freely towards our goal as we learn to fall in time with this music.
And when it comes to effort and surrender, surrender comes first. We can only offer what we are given.
Nothing more could be expected than that. And what we are given is very near to us, in the here and now, within us and all around us, taking us by the hand.
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21 Responses to Faith Crisis – by Annelise

  1. Tsvi says:

    Very beutifully put. As one who truly identifies with this I would say that anyone who hasn’t yet seen that all life is that combination of rest and struggle isn’t living in the fulness of what life is. Jacob and Esau struggled in the womb and that noticibly continued through their lives. How we wish for Gan Aden and thankfully that is going to come for us. Thanks again . Tsvi

    • Annelise says:

      I think you’re right…life as we know it couldn’t be only rest or only effort. Our nervous systems need the right balance of the two as well.

  2. Dina says:

    Annelise, this is so inspiring and moving!

  3. Another testimony of a faith crisis here.

    • charles soper
      I generally delete comments which just post a link – but I will leave this one up. Hebrew Union College and an Orthodox Rabbi – pretty good! This is the same culture of Matthew’s quotes from Tanach and Tzachi Shapira’s quotes from the Rabbinic literature
      https://judaismresources.net/2014/02/17/innocent-trust/

    • Dina says:

      Funnily enough, there is a Max Wertheimer who lived around the same time as the one in Charles’s link, who was born in Europe and emigrated to the United States.

      https://www.britannica.com/biography/Max-Wertheimer

      So that whole testimony is fabricated.

      This is beside the point that a real Orthodox rabbi would have already studied inside and out all the passages that suddenly strike “Wertheimer” as newly relevant. He also contradicts himself, calling himself Orthodox and then boasting of his “Reformed Judaism” in front of a church congregation.

      Wikipedia mentions that he was sent to a Catholic school at age five by his parents.

      Finally, the language simply doesn’t match the time period in which it is purported to have been written, and the grammar mistakes do not reflect his education.

      • Annelise says:

        I agree that this was definitely written by someone else.

        It baffles me that people can write deceptively about a belief they seme to genuinely hold! And how arrogant to sit down and write someone else’s biography in the first person, changing and inserting things at whim.

        • Annelise says:

          I agree that this was definitely written by someone else.

          It baffles me that people can write deceptively about a belief they seem to genuinely hold! And how arrogant to sit down and write someone else’s biography in the first person, changing and inserting things at whim.

  4. Yafe meod and inspiring, Annelise!
    I guess Jacob might have gone through this same faith crisis. He loved Rachel but Leah was given. He lived with Leah to have Rachel. He loved Rachel more than Leah. Yet Jacob never abandoned Leah and wanted to be buried with Leah. I have faith that my Jewish brothers and sisters here are doing the same thing to me and other Chriatians.

    • Annelise says:

      In my case, it wasn’t that I wanted Jesus more than God, but chose to follow God away from Jesus out of necessity. No…I never intended to worship a mere human, I only ever intended to worship God. And I stopped believing that Jesus was my shepherd, yet I knew that Judaism teaches that God is my shepherd even without Jesus being in the picture at all.

      The reason for the emotional dissonance was simply that we humans find it hard to change our attachment towards someone, even when in our minds we know facts to the contrary.

      I think that many Jews understand the sincerity of many Christians, and are willing to be their friends and appreciate them as fellow humans…if the Christians are being transparent and respectful.

      But how can Torah observant Jews accept the actual beliefs that Christians hold about how to look at Jesus as God or as the king of Israel? Christians don’t base this on evidence alone but on a leap of faith that all in itself defines which set of evidence will be accepted.

      And that leap of faith is based on an emotional response, which could fairly be explained as being influenced by social and emotional factors. An emotional reaction can’t be considered a good enough reason for elevating a human like that.

  5. Dovid says:

    Beautiful article, Annelise!

    • Annelise says:

      Thanks Dovid.

      • Bible819 says:

        Annelise,

        How do you know that Moses spoke to God on the Mount Sinai?

        • Annelise says:

          I’m not actually sure whether that happened or not. But I think the claim of revelation to Moses and Israel at Sinai is not in the same category as the claim that Jesus is God.

          This post was about some things I’ve found helpful for my mental health while questioning, and I think some of these principles may be helpful even for some people who are on somewhat different journeys than my own.

          • Bible819 says:

            Christians hold that Jesus was raised from the Dead making him the Son of God who ascended into heaven. Jews hold that Moses met the 1 true God on Mt Sinai.Point being, both are beyond human comprehension thus constitute a leap of faith.

          • Annelise says:

            Everything in life involves a level of uncertainty and partial knowledge. The question is whether any claim (religious or not) is reasonably convincing.

          • Bible819 says:

            Speaking to a Fire Bush, going up a mountain and talking Someone you can’t See?! Having a Son at the age of 100 years old by way of Miracle, Parting an Ocean…..Vs Sending a Messiah to Save the World being accomplished by God living in him to do his own work? And man rejecting Gods promise and killing him? But God raising him from the Dead freeing him from the agony of Death. If you believe the former you believe the latter!

          • Annelise says:

            I think it may be better to look at miracle claims through the lens of the discipline of history, rather than of science. The natural laws as we know them are fairly local to our eveyday experiences. There are certainly realities that don’t meet the eye and are totally unintuitive, even unknown to us. And the emergence of anything existing at all isn’t something that science has explained. We need to allow for things beyond our scientific framework, even if we consider them highly unlikely and rightly demand of a large amount of evidence.

            Historically speaking, the arguments for both Judaism and Christianity do have some level of merit, some reasons for taking them seriously. I’m in the same boat as you are in terms of not having found proof for either that convinces me fully.

            However, the strongest objections to Judaism (aside from lack of an evidence base) seem to be in the philosophically grey areas of things like ethics and God’s kindness. Traditional Christianity hits a much harder wall, because it promotes a changing of how the halacha are to be followed and the worship of a man (on the basis of saying he is God). These are topics that the Torah describes as being extremely important, and it’s written in black and white, in the Hebrew texts that Christianity takes to be foundational. So the existence of doubt or a ‘leap of faith’ in those areas means that Christianity is much more clearly false.

  6. Bible819 says:

    Annelise,
    If what you say is the case who did Isaiah (See) in Isaiah 6?

    VS

    Deut 4 :15 -> Spoken Law

    Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.

    Black and White?

    You notice that God shows more of himself throughout the history of Israel.

    Deut to Ezekiel… Then God speaks about in Daniel the Last Days ie the abomination that causes Desolation

    Seems to dive more into the Spiritual realm.

    • Annelise says:

      Ezekiel 1 gives the description of a prophetic vision as “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.” It doesn’t mean the prophets believed that God is a physical entity.

      I can definitely see how there is room in the Torah for later, progressive revelation. However, the caution that it sets up around worshiping God alone and holding on to God’s commandments is so clear and strong that there is no room for speculation or a shadow of a doubt about whether or not someone is transgressing in these areas.

      The Tanach goes frequently to the description of created beings as those who are in the land, sea, and sky, including all people. So for there to be an exception to this, it would need to be with great clarity. This isn’t at all what we see in the early church, where the apostles weren’t even openly declaring an incarnation belief, and also seemed to still be upholding the normal Jewish following of Torah law in many senses.

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