How to Have Faith When You Question Religion

This past week I put out a call on Facebook, asking readers to tell me what they’d like to hear more about on Beauty in the Mess. The response was: How to have faith when you question religion? I have to say, my heart just about stopped when I read it. This is a very hard, but a very important question. I’m praying that I can do it justice, but please speak up in the comments section and help me out!

How to Have Faith When You Question ReligionSometimes looking at religious institutions, and even religious leaders, can be discouraging. There can be pettiness, deceit, hateful actions and words, and so many other issues that I cannot name. I was at a church for many years that was in a horrible cycle. One of its many problems was that people would come, I and others would connect with them, then they would leave in very damaging ways.

It got to the point that even after I left that church, I could not trust church people. At my new church, I sometimes literally hid to escape the kindness of the people. These new people were loving on me and caring for me, but I would cringe because of the hurtful situation I’d been in before.

For a long time, I was mad that this had happened. I was sick of church politics and I didn’t want to get involved. And it made me very skittish about staying at a church and connecting with the people. It took a lot of prayer and some godly counseling from an outside source before I was finally able to open my heart again.

How to Have Faith When You Question ReligionBut during this whole thing I never lost faith. I always knew that God was there. Sure, I was frustrated with Him at times. I even questioned His decisions. But when I cried out to Him in pain, after all the anger and the tears, I could hear His still, small voice. I could feel His presence, like arms holding me.

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. -Mark 11:22

Faith is your trust and belief that Jesus is our Lord and savior. That He died on the cross because he loved you so much that He wanted to take your sins on Himself so that you could spent eternity with Him–free from the pains of this world.

Your faith should not be tied to religion. Even the best of institutions will fail you at times. They are run by flawed human beings after all. Faith is tied to one thing alone–God. And He is perfect. Even though that doesn’t mean our lives will be.

My last point is that not all religious institutions are bad and just because you’ve had a bad experience doesn’t mean you should swear them off altogether. The church is the bride of Christ. Jesus set up this institution so that we can fellowship with other believers, so that we are not alone in our triumphs and our sorrows. If you haven’t found the right place for you, I urge you to keep searching. Because now, I and my family have wonderful church families who love and support us. I am blessed to have these people in my life. So blessed.

How to Have Faith When You Question ReligionSo even though you might be going through a difficult period, hold on to your faith. It is the one solid place in which you can take refuge. And if you are struggling, talk to someone. Talk to me! Getting an outside look on your inside pain can help you find new ways to deal with your struggles, and eventually find healing. And know that I’ll be praying for you.

How would you respond to the question: How to have faith when you question religion? Have you had this question? Do you still? How have you overcome struggles with religion? How has holding onto your faith helped you in troubled times?

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By | 2015-09-08T09:40:17+00:00 September 4th, 2015|Faith|41 Comments

About the Author:

I'm a tea-sipping, adventure-seeking, pug-loving kind of girl. I'm crazy for God and want to share his love with awesome girls around the globe.

41 Comments

  1. Elise September 11, 2015 at 9:04 am - Reply

    Thank you for this post, Megan! I really appreciated reading this in the morning.

    For me, faith has been a bit of a continuum; although I’ve been through quite a bit, I’ve never seemed to question my faith–it just is. Your concept of “faith should not be tied to religion” is, I think, an excellent point. Just as the church is the Bride of Christ, the New Testament is vague on exactly which denomination qualifies.

    I really appreciate your style of writing, and the topics you choose!

    • Megan Gonzalez September 11, 2015 at 9:17 am - Reply

      Thank you so much Elise! I’m sorry to hear you’ve been through so much, but it’s wonderful to hear your faith has been solid 😄

  2. Autumn September 6, 2015 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    I really love this post! It is difficult to write about such things. When I find that I am upset with people at church (and have doubts that begin to come from it), I remind myself that church culture versus doctrine can be different and often it means I need to find a new way to invest in the church. I’m glad you were able to find a church that was a great fit for you and I’ve had similar feelings after getting out of a toxic job environment and then going to a new one.

  3. Shann Eva September 6, 2015 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    Such a great post. It’s wonderful that you respond to your reader’s questions. I’ve never belonged to a church, yet I still have faith and believe. I don’t think one is tied to the other.

    • Megan Gonzalez September 6, 2015 at 11:44 pm - Reply

      I love interacting with readers! While faith is not tied to church, church is still very important. Jesus set up the church so that we can be fed spiritually on a regular basis, so we can find fellowship to support us through good times and bad, and so we can have accountability to help us continue to live the way God wants us to. I would encourage you to check out the churches nearby. It may not be the first one you visit, but eventually I pray you’ll find a home 😀

  4. Aishwarya S September 6, 2015 at 5:28 am - Reply

    God and religion are very important parts of our lives. Every person thinks differently about it. I think you’ve written wonderfully. We must keep faith and trust.

  5. Jonathan Key September 5, 2015 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    I believe that faith is a gift from God. Faith is not something we conjure up on our own, nor is it something we are born with, nor is faith a result of diligence in study or pursuit of the spiritual. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it clear that faith is a gift from God, not because we deserve it, have earned it, or are worthy to have it. It is not from ourselves; it is from God. It is not obtained by our power or our free will. Faith is simply given to us by God, along with His grace and mercy, according to His holy plan and purpose, and because of that, He gets all the glory.

    Ephesians 2:8-9
    8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

  6. Karin Rambo September 5, 2015 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    Wow. This is a greats topic isn’t it? I’m actually a PK so I know all about the “nitty gritty” of religion. I’m still processing this, but for the longest time I could barely stand to sit through worship during the service because I felt anxiety around people watching me to make sure I was being the good, dutiful PK and worshipping properly. I.e. Hands raised just enough to communicate sincerity, but not enough to be considered charismatic (and that’s a whole other story). It’s crazy what “people” can make you feel at church. And I emphasize that word because it’s people and not God that are the problem. We’re sinners and sinners do hurtful, stupid stuff. It’s taken me a long time to think this way, but I’ve found it’s helpful to separate the person from the pain they have caused. What I mean, is i try to understand the situation that person is in that would cause them to act out. There was one girl, for example who was so MEAN. There’s no other way to put it. But then I found out that she came from a background of all kinds of crazy abuse. Did that excuse her behavior? No. But it did help me to give her grace. And finally, I try to remind myself that I’m not perfect either. There have been plenty of times in my own pain that I have lashed out at someone. Or I have let jealousy take hold and then treated that person with disdain to make myself feel better. I think it’s important to remember that we are all on a journey. None of us are perfect. But God? He is. And He’s constant. I find that incredibly comforting. Thanks for the post!

    • Megan Gonzalez September 6, 2015 at 11:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Karin! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I know exactly what it’s like to be in the PK fishbowl. It can be very trying, and I’m so sorry you had to go through so much anxiety and stress. It’s wonderful that you are able to separate the people from the pain and learn to give grace. It can be so hard to do when others have hurt us, but it’s so worth it! Extending grace and forgiveness may or may not make a difference to them, but it certainly frees us!

  7. Matilda September 5, 2015 at 5:43 am - Reply

    This is a really difficult topic. I think you have done it Justice.

  8. Chelsie September 4, 2015 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    I really liked this post. I know that there are times when I struggle with certain things that happen within my church (others saying offensive things or weird leadership calls) but I have to remember that the reason I go to church is to show my love for God and that’s why I’m there!

    • Megan Gonzalez September 5, 2015 at 8:48 am - Reply

      Going to church to show your love for God is such a great way to look at it! It takes the focus off the flawed people and puts it back where it belongs.

  9. Kimberly Bolden September 4, 2015 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    I thank God that we do not have to have it all together to be a part of the church. I am grateful that there is sufficient grace for all of us hyprocrites and that we are made perfect in Him. Don’t stop believing.

    • Megan Gonzalez September 5, 2015 at 8:47 am - Reply

      I thank God for that too, otherwise I would never be able to attend. And I certainly need to! His grace is truly amazing and humbling.

  10. Anonymous September 4, 2015 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    When there is nothing left, faith is still there

  11. Vianca September 4, 2015 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. In my family we always knew about God even if we weren’t going to a church. I struggled with my relationship with God. Thankfully as the years have passed, I realized that He never left me.

    • Megan Gonzalez September 5, 2015 at 8:45 am - Reply

      Vianca, it is so true that He never left you. He loves you like crazy and He always will! I’m so glad you found this post helpful. If you ever have any questions or would like to see a post on another topic, please let me know! 😀

  12. Summer @ Coffee With Summer September 4, 2015 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    Great, encouraging post, Megan!

  13. Lauren English September 4, 2015 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    So good! I love the idea that “the church” is a broken group of people trying to figure it all out together. If we totally swear off ALL believers because of one bad experience, we’re just seeing such a small part of the big picture of people trying to live out full life with Jesus. Thanks for sharing this and challenging people to pursue faith even when they’re frustrated with religion!

    • Megan Gonzalez September 5, 2015 at 8:43 am - Reply

      Thank you for your comment Lauren! It can be so easy to write off a whole group because of one bad encounter, but if we did that, we wouldn’t be displaying the grace God has given us.

  14. Nicole September 4, 2015 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Nice article! I think religion is more man-made, and therefore highly susceptible to flaws and imperfections. To me, faith in God is almost completely separate from religion. People give me funny looks when I tell them yes, I’m a Christian, but no, I’m not religious. How can that be? I follow the Lord and His guidance for me, which may be very different than that of the next person. If we are locked into religious beliefs and traditions, my fear is it that could potentially impede upon God’s direction for us.

    • Megan Gonzalez September 5, 2015 at 8:41 am - Reply

      Thank you Nicole! It is important to be focused on God’s will for us. I agree that we shouldn’t let that me clouded by man-made legalism.

  15. Rachel - À LA MODEST September 4, 2015 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    It did use to sadden me when hearing people leave churches. However, I have to remind myself that church isn’t defined by a physical structure. The body of Christ is a community of believers, and staying in touch with a community, whether it’s a group of Christian friends once in a while or a regular Sunday fellowship, it’s all the same. It starts becoming more of a religion and less of a relationship when others try to make you feel bad for not attending church regularly. It’s not about attendance, it’s about having a relationship with God.

    À LA MODEST – Replacing insecurities with inspiration!

    • Megan Gonzalez September 5, 2015 at 8:39 am - Reply

      That is true, but I do want to stress that attending a church is important. Jesus set up the church so that we could have a community of believers and regularly be fed by God’s word. As I said in the post, the church is the bride of Christ… And I want to be a part of that!

  16. Elizabeth @ Sweet For Your Soul September 4, 2015 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    My 16-year-old was just talking about this the other day. One of her friends said he didn’t know much about religion. I told my daughter, “It isn’t about religion. It’s about relationship.” Religion is rules, but faith is freedom. Stopping by from Christian Women Blogs on FB…welcome to the group!

    • Megan Gonzalez September 5, 2015 at 8:35 am - Reply

      Thank you for stopping by and thanks for your words of wisdom. I love how you put “Religion is rules, but faith is freedom.” Such a great way to capture it!

  17. andi September 4, 2015 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    my pastor always says – that it’s always about a relationship – not always about a religion… 😀

    • Megan Gonzalez September 5, 2015 at 8:33 am - Reply

      That is very true. And your relationship with God can’t be defined by your relationship with people.

  18. Cathy September 4, 2015 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    Your response is so beautifully put! Love the picture you used, especially the heart one!
    Cathy

  19. Rene D September 4, 2015 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    I get this question quite often actually. My granddad is an ordained deacon in the Catholic church, my uncle a monk…. I was baptized in a Baptist church and now go to a non-denominational.. My belief is that each of the “religious” sectors has some of it right – yet none of them is perfect. And if God could talk to us, He would say that he would LOVE if we all just came together. I walk through my days trying to be an example of Christianity (that means not judging others for their religious beliefs – even if they don’t fall in line with mine or the bible)… But rather, holding onto my Faith and praying for everyone silently and without judgment. “God none of us has it 100% right – please just guide me in the right direction and help me be an example of your love so that the world will be a better place” …

    • Megan Gonzalez September 4, 2015 at 12:18 pm - Reply

      This is such a wonderful idea and attitude. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to start copying your prayer. I love it! It’s a wonderful prayer as well as a great reminder to myself to not be judgmental.

      • Rene D September 4, 2015 at 1:13 pm - Reply

        Of course! Pray away 🙂

  20. Lyn Fleming September 4, 2015 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Such great insight; I left my previous church 10 years ago and still haven’t taken the step to find a new one. The time will come though, but in the meantime I keep my faith and that’s what matters to me most. That said, your comments about finding refuge and being blessed with your church community make me want that for me and my family.

    • Megan Gonzalez September 4, 2015 at 10:53 am - Reply

      After I had that bad experience, it took some searching. I tried three different churches before finally settling in to this one. And it didn’t truly become my church home until my husband and I found a Bible study. To connect with those people in a personal, private, and safe way has grounded me in the community. It’s given me such a great support system. I pray you can find something like that, and soon!

  21. Melanie September 4, 2015 at 9:51 am - Reply

    Yes! Faith is not the same as religion, or dependent on people or places. We need to hold tight to God, nothing else.

  22. Caroline @ In Due Time September 4, 2015 at 9:28 am - Reply

    I so agree! It really is the ONE place to take refuge! Such a good reminder!

  23. Lindsay September 4, 2015 at 8:54 am - Reply

    Thanks for listening to my Facebook comment! This was a helpful, inspiring post to think about first thing i the morning.

    • Megan Gonzalez September 4, 2015 at 9:14 am - Reply

      Thanks for participating Lindsay! I always welcome questions and input. I’ve prayed a lot over this post. I’m glad you found it so helpful.

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