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  #1  
Old Jan 16, '11, 11:27 pm
lifeinyouryears lifeinyouryears is offline
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Default i need help believing in God again.

Hi everyone,

I'm slightly afraid to post this because I don't know how everyone will react. I'm not trolling or anything, I just really need help, and I don't know where to turn. Not only that, but I am not even sure if this is the right place to post - if not, I apologize. But here is my story.

My whole life I have been raised as a Christian, yet, for some reason, my family was never strongly Catholic. I went to mass (more so when I was a child than as a teenager) fairly regularly, though not as regularly as most would consider appropriate. I went to CCE and was baptized and received the sacraments of communion and reconciliation. Even as I grew older and got to the point where we weren't going to mass at all anymore (for this reason, I haven't been confirmed yet), I still believed in God, and was very spiritual.

However, it feels that as I have gotten older, I have stopped believing entirely. For those who don't want to read all of my crazy, possibly blasphemous, ramblings, essentially I feel that as I have gotten older, my belief has faded and I can't help but be a skeptic. I have started going to mass in desperation to believe again, but yet while I am there, I can't help but think... "What if this is just a way to answer questions about things we can't answer, or comfort us when we are scared? What if it is all made up as a way to get people to behave the way that it is believed they should?" Now, granted, a lot of that may be due to complete ignorance, because I'll be the first one to admit I know nothing about the history of Catholicism or Christianity in general (unless you count the story of Noah's Ark... or Adam and Eve. You know, all the famous ones.)

I'm absolutely filled with questions that there simply aren't answers to - and yet, I can't shake them. There are so many religions out there - Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism - and so many variations of Christianity as well. How do we know which one is the "right" one? How do we know that we, as Catholics or even as Christians, are the ones who are right about things? Why is it that we say that the gods that the Aztecs or the ancient Greeks or Romans believed in are wrong - how do we know that they weren't right, and we're wrong? Or something to that effect. I don't know if that makes any sense, but that's kind of where I'm at.

And then all the social concerns - abortion, homosexuality, masturbation, contraception, pre-martial sex, everything - some of these I have come to disagree with the strict ban on them, and I am not sure if anything will change my mind. This scares me because, I want to be closer with God and I want to have faith and believe in Him - but if I cannot agree with the Catholic (or Christian) teachings, how will I ever be accepted in the church? My best friend since my freshman year of high school is gay, and it hurts my heart to hear people say that he CHOSE that life, or that he needs to be 'cured' or that I should not accept him.

Everyone that I've tried to talk to about this, just says basically the same thing: "Well, you just have to have faith that it's right", or "Faith is about belief, and belief isn't knowing, because if belief was knowing then it would be called knowledge." But I guess I feel like those answers aren't doing it for me anymore. I know a lot of you are going to reply and say that I need to go talk to a priest or somebody, and not asking questions on the Internet - but I feel ashamed and embarrassed (and I'm ridiculously shy enough as it is) -- I don't think I, as a 19-year-old college student who knows next to nothing about her religion, could openly admit my doubts to someone who has dedicated their whole life to believing in, and teaching, this. For some reason, the anonymity of the Internet, and this forum in particular, helps to alleviate some of that stress.

And then, lastly, the most evil truth of all - my fear is that, deep down, the only reason I want to believe is because I am afraid of being wrong, and finding out when I die (or on Judgment Day, whichever comes first) that I was wrong and am now being damned for eternity. I know these are selfish reasons, and I know this is not why you should believe in God or have faith or be a religious person. Yet I can't help but feel this way.

So here is my plea. I need some help believing in God again. I want to believe in Him so bad, and I want to be a good Catholic, and I want to have faith. I don't want to do it purely for selfish reasons, or for fear of going to hell when I die. I want to be a person who can honestly say that they are a healthy Catholic and that they truly, deep down, believe in God and accept Jesus as their personal savior - for their own reasons, not because they are afraid. If there is anyone out there who can help me, please - I need you.

Lastly - please be kind. I am not trying to denounce this religion. I am not trying to say I know something I don't. I am not trying to start a riot, and I do not want to get banned for this post. All I need is just someone to listen, and try to help me out... I feel more lost and scared than I ever have in my life. I really just need some advice.

Thank you all in advance.
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  #2  
Old Jan 17, '11, 3:31 am
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Ben F Ben F is offline
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

Although this is a Protestant book, I really liked it. Lee Strobel's A Case for Christ. He was a court reporter who wanted to see if Jesus could pass the test of our legal system. There are other good Catholic books out there, but I can't get over this book. Remembering it, when I start losing my faith helps me a lot. All your doubts that you've listed in your posts are real and understandable. Simply because you're not alone. The fact that you want to believe, must tell you something. Where does this want come from and why? The fact that you doubt, tells you something. Where does this doubt come from and why? If man is religeous, because he made himself religeous in order to face life, the question still remains? I didn't make myself. I personally don't think our thoughts are our own. I think they originate somewhere. Pray. That is not some cliche. Prayer is powerful. It's thoughts directed somewhere. If there is a God, you'll know it. He'll show you. The truth is lusive, but it's there. Jesus said if you seek you will find. God bless
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  #3  
Old Jan 17, '11, 3:48 am
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HickmanJosh HickmanJosh is offline
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

http://wordonfire.org/WOF-TV/Faith-Clips-new.aspx

this link goes to a site where a catholic priest has videos, he comments on movies big news things sometimes, and obviously God. The "faith clips" section which i have posted is just some videos some are titled "so what about God?" and "why do we believe in God?" in regards to the question of the validity of Christianity and Catholicism its best to look at its founder, Christ, so there is also a video about Jesus and later the Priest goes into why Christ is different from other religious leaders like the Buddha and Mohammad

‎"God does not need the world, yet you are hear, that's very strange. Because what that means is you have been loved into existence"-Father Robert Barron

as for the social concerns thouse are matters that all relate to human sexuality and marriage. This site has a huge bank of q&a on almost all catholic teaching.(under the faith tab at the top of the page)

In regards to homosexuality Catholics believe that marital love must be Free, Total, Faithful and Fruitful. and it is by definition impossible for the homosexual act to be fruitful the same goes for contraception. i don't mean to be cold but man and woman were created for union with each other not with members of the same sex.

Abortion is a whole different can of worms, essentially the pro-life and catholic (and scientific)stance is that abortion kills a human being (homicide) unjustly(murder)

Quote:
"What if this is just a way to answer questions about things we can't answer, or comfort us when we are scared?"
well there is no doubt a long answer to this but for two thousand years people have willingly went to their own deaths for the sake of their beliefs in this religion(or person), it would seem illogical for them to do this if it was merely a coping mechanism

plus here is a thread about miracles(scientifically unexplainable)http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=341474

hope this helps
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  #4  
Old Jan 17, '11, 3:49 am
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

You should go speak to a priest. They can address your concerns with you and help find the best route for you to take.
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  #5  
Old Jan 17, '11, 3:50 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

It will be a good thing to study your faith from trusted Catholic sources, and especially to read the bible, beginning with Mark's gospel.

Take the short-cut. Return to Mass and the sacraments, beginning of course with confession, and pray the rosary every day. It is not totally necessary to know everything in detail in order to give the assent of faith. You have the initial gift of faith which you received in baptism. It is not lost. It is still there, an indelible mark on your soul. You have simply to activate it, and confession is the speed-dial way to access your faith.

When you have done all this, then start looking for good books and adult education classes and on-line study resources.
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Old Jan 17, '11, 4:07 am
Bob Crowley Bob Crowley is offline
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

It's a long story, but I became a Christian in the real sense in late 1982, at the tail end of the worst 4 years of my life. At that time I was Presbyterian (I won't go into all the background as it would take too long).

It was also the first time in my life since leaving primary school that I felt some measure of acceptance, as our home life was one of constant bullying and cruelty from my father, I'm hard of hearing with the subsequent difficulty in socialising, and I wasn't happy in the the high school to which I was sent (the teaching was of a high standard though I'll admit). Getting jobs and keeping them was difficult, and my confidence was at rock bottom.

About a year after my Christian "conversion" I was at a "Scripture Union Beach Mission" at a place called Forest Glen Caravan Park south of Nambour (not actually on the beach mind you).

Like you, I was having doubts, as the weeks leading up to the beach mission had been rather negative, and I was doing something for which I was not well prepared. I was thinking to myself "How do you know all this is true, and is not just a psychological prop?"

To cut a long story short, during a Bible study meeting for the "leaders" of whom I was supposed to be one, I copped my first "double whammy" to coin a term my Catholic psychiatrist used, as he had experienced it himself (but I didn't meet him for at least another 12 years). It was like a breath going through me in waves from head to foot, and it was used to highlight some words spoken by the overall leader.

I had this happen twice more in church over the next couple of years, and it hasn't happened since. But then I've also experienced a lot of other stuff - heavy gripping pressures at night, "the tail of the snake" in visions, and the night my father died he appeared in my room, apologised, argued, conversed and then disappeared with one terrifying scream.

So unlike you I've had a fair number of what might be called "spiritual experiences" and therefore have an unfair advantage in one way. There's no doubt in my mind that God exists, and the devil exists also. Moreover the scream my father gave indicated to me there's a judgement, and it is to be feared.

I also happened to have the good fortune of not only meeting a highly spriitual Catholic psychiatrist (as I had depression at one time), but also had an outstanding pastor for the first nine years of my Christian life. I learnt a lot from him, although he did discourage me.

Now I can't translate my experience to you. As I see it, you need at least three things -

1. An experience of God in some form or another. it may be different to mine.
2. Someone you can relate to with a lot of experience and wisdom in Christian things, preferably with spiritual experience.
3. An intellectual approach to the Christian fatih, with an emphasis on Truth. Have you read any of CS Lewis books? To me, he's the Christian apologist par excellence.
4. The realisation that God has given you a brain to think with, and He expects you to use it. I am a former Protestant, and while I think the RCC is correct about abortion (and I think God is extremely hostile to it), I disagree strongly with its teaching on the contraceptive pill (and so do a lot of other Catholics obviously). And I haven't got much admiration for the Papal "Infallibility" however it is framed. As far as I'm concerned it is unnecessary and a stumbling block for ultimate church unity. Nor was the way it was brought in a shining example of clerical honesty.
5. Some way to serve others, even if you don't believe at this stage. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, only he who obeys believes, and only he who believes obeys.

So if I were you, I'd start by praying for the above 5 avenues to be made open to you.

CS Lewis books you can probably get from your local library - start with "Mere Christianity" but don't stop there. Read as many of his books as you can. If you've even heard of Charles Colston, President Nixon's hatchet man, who went to jail, but became fully Christian in jail and later formed Prison Fellowship, he himself testified that CS Lewis had a formative influence on his thinking.

The service to others is best done through another organisation. Look around - it may take a bit of trial and error.

The rest depends on God leading you, in His subtle and sometimes very frustrating way, to the people you need to meet.

But be warend - If God does give you a spiritual experience of some sort, there is nothing surer that the devil won't be far behind trynig to get you to follow some false experience.

Ultimately there is only one truth. Christ spoke of Himself, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." "No one comes to the Father but through Me." It's up to you to search for the truth.
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  #7  
Old Jan 17, '11, 4:47 am
JW55 JW55 is offline
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

Welcome to the forum. I am sure there are many knowledgeable folks on here that will give you some very good advise, but I will try and throw in my two cents worth.

First, I woud suggest if you haven't done so already, I would talk to your parish priest or any priest for that matter about some of your concerns. You may also want to seek spiritual direction through a nearby monastery. Oftentimes, some people feel more comfortable discussing such issues with someone they may not be initially close to.

The fact that you are questioning things, is a good sign you already have faith whether you feel it or not. Jesus himself said being lukewarm is a worse position to take than being strongly one way or the other. Very often self-professed atheists are closer to God than many folks who mechanically attend mass each week but really make no effort to grow closer to God. Your questioning shows you have a desire to "know God".

There are many religions out there, and many various faiths within Christianity itself, all saying they have the answer. So it poses a dilemma for a "seeker of the truth". Many are philosophical, some are cults, some are sheek or the latest coolest thing to be a part of. They range anywhere from a do anything you want philosophy to those that demand you renounce all your material possession and live like a hermit.

The wise thing is to look for is the church that Jesus founded himself. The Catholic and Orthodox faiths are the only ones that have any sense of a claim to this. Throughout the Bible and the teaching of the church fathers are found people who have struggled with the same doubts and fears that you have.

After many decades, I can truthfully say I have a difficult time accepting all the teachings of the Catholic Church. But I feel, I must. I can also truthfully say I am more accepting of many more of the my "questionable" issues than I was years ago, as God has revealled more and more to me. I have had to put my trust in him and the church that what is taught is correct whether I agree with it or not. We will always lack the spritual maturity to understand everything about God and some things we must just accept.

When you were three yrs old, you may have thought it was a good idea to play in the road or eat dirt. Your mother or father, knowing better protected you from these bad choices. You may have been angry at the time but you can no doubt clearly see now that they were correct and knew better. Our spiritual growth with God is the same way. We are still like the little child playing in the street. We learn little by little and much knowledge will never be revealed in our lifetime. We just have to accept it. Also keep in mind, faith is not about feelings. It doesn't necessarily come with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, or a moment when we now have all the right answers and where things are black and white and we agree with them. There are always "gray" areas, we must continually seeek God's guidance and believe he knows what is best for us.

This same thought goes for the teaching of the church . We don't just get to to pick how we think things should be and mold God into what we what him to be. After all he is "God". As a child we don't have to agree with everything we are made to do and don't like. Spiritually, we just have to accept that God is directing us to do better and showing us how to find the truth and how to know and love him more. That process never ends.

A previous poster suggeted C.S. Lewis books. I would have to agree. C.S. Lewis has a way of putting things into persective in understandable terms, for someone struggling with their faith.
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  #8  
Old Jan 17, '11, 4:51 am
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simple soul simple soul is offline
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeinyouryears View Post
So here is my plea. I need some help believing in God again. I want to believe in Him so bad, and I want to be a good Catholic, and I want to have faith. I don't want to do it purely for selfish reasons, or for fear of going to hell when I die. I want to be a person who can honestly say that they are a healthy Catholic and that they truly, deep down, believe in God and accept Jesus as their personal savior - for their own reasons, not because they are afraid. If there is anyone out there who can help me, please - I need you.
Dear lifeinyouryears,

I can not tell you how much your pain and anguish speaks to me.
It seemed not so long ago that Jesus kept pulling at my very soul and would not let me find rest until I had found my way back to Church again. It was like a nagging or pulling sensation.
Looking back I remember the first time I went to church and reconnecting with the songs and hymns that I still remembered by heart, and when every one else went to receive Jesus, I cried.
My heart just completely broke and I knew I had to do what ever I needed to do to get myself into that Church again so that I could receive Jesus again.
For me personally, I had to ignore a lot of thoughts that came cluttering to my mind. some of those thoughts were the same as yours.
But, the biggest thing was I did not want to be a hypocrite. I did not see how I could profess to belong to a faith that I did not know if I truly believed 100% in.
To me that would be a hypocrisy.
But Jesus, when He gets a grip on your soul, gives it no rest until you follow Him. So at some point, in tears I asked Him to help my unbelief took a deep breath trusting that He would help me understand and work through what I believed to be differences of belief.
He knew I would need Him more than ever as He lead me closer to Himself.
Looking back over the last almost ten years of my life I am so thankful that He did give me no rest until I had went back to Him. If I had not been going to Church and had God in my life as I do now I truly do not believe I would have made it through all the confusion, hurt and chaos I have been sorting through.

So I would say go ahead, take a leap of faith, ask God to help your unbelief and take the plunge.
In moments like this I have also found that when I just beg His Mother Mary to help me have faith and trust some how it always helps.

I hope this helps,

With my love and prayers,

Simple Soul
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Old Jan 17, '11, 5:40 am
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JRKH JRKH is offline
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

First - Welcome to the Forums
Second - You have not come off in a bad way... We've heard thse things before. You've insulted no one here.
Third - I think you picked the perfect place to post your concerns. CAF is a wonderful resource and the Spirituality Forum is a great place to get advice on your type of concerns.

Now to your concerns. You already have received a lot of great advice. I can't add a lot. One thing I will say is to not be worried about your reasons (fear of hell at judgement). It is a quite common starting point for the spiritual journey. The fear of punishment as well as the promise of great reward are both powerful motivators and God does use them to get us off our duffs...

The thing to remember is that God is Love. The Two great commandments are of Love - Love God and Love neighbor. The trick is to get from where we are as humans in the natural, selfish, sinful state to the state of Love. As you begin to see God in this light - His essense of Love - you will begin to see how everything good comes from this single source. We cannot come close to understanding God, only accept Him as He reveals himself to us...through Love.

I'm sure you will receive many book recommendations etc, so I won't add any right now. My recommendation would be to, as others have said, get to confession and to communion. Then seek out a priest and talk things over with him with the aim of geting confirmed (receiving the Holy Spirit). The graces that flow from these things can be tremendous. I also recommend getting involved in things like catholic bible study or taking the RCIA course. This way you can interact with other Catholics - or soon to be Catholics and learn from each other.

I know this is a bit rambling but I hope some of it helpts.

Peace
James
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Old Jan 17, '11, 5:48 am
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeinyouryears View Post
So here is my plea. I need some help believing in God again. I want to believe in Him so bad, and I want to be a good Catholic, and I want to have faith. I don't want to do it purely for selfish reasons, or for fear of going to hell when I die. I want to be a person who can honestly say that they are a healthy Catholic and that they truly, deep down, believe in God and accept Jesus as their personal savior - for their own reasons, not because they are afraid. If there is anyone out there who can help me, please - I need you.

Lastly - please be kind. I am not trying to denounce this religion. I am not trying to say I know something I don't. I am not trying to start a riot, and I do not want to get banned for this post. All I need is just someone to listen, and try to help me out... I feel more lost and scared than I ever have in my life. I really just need some advice.

Thank you all in advance.
Hi there

Nice to read your post and have you with us here on the forums!
I think you've got a few great ideas and suggestions above. I would offer a couple of ideas. 1. You could start from a common sense perspective, from a philosophical perspective, and concentrate on the wonderful guide for life that the Catholic Church is. Start to educate yourself as to what the Church teaches on social issues, see how much sense it makes and then the spiritual side will follow.
2. Common sense will lead you to God. We are born into this world to form connections, which we continue to do, touching other people and forming threads of relationship, until we die. The idea that all that then stops seems to fly in the face of reason to me!

Good luck and God bless!
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  #11  
Old Jan 17, '11, 10:52 am
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

Have you considered exploring both sides of the debate? The above books sound like excellent recommendations and this forum is a great place to come to get a pro religion view point. May I recommend reading Richard Dawkins ‘The God Delusion’ and googling some atheist forums? I think this may help you to organise the thoughts you are having, you may read this book and disagree with Dawkins the entire way through in which case your faith will be strengthened or you may agree and thereby help you to lose your fear of not believing.
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Old Jan 17, '11, 11:37 am
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PerfectTiming PerfectTiming is offline
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vetgirl View Post
Have you considered exploring both sides of the debate? The above books sound like excellent recommendations and this forum is a great place to come to get a pro religion view point. May I recommend reading Richard Dawkins ‘The God Delusion’ and googling some atheist forums? I think this may help you to organise the thoughts you are having, you may read this book and disagree with Dawkins the entire way through in which case your faith will be strengthened or you may agree and thereby help you to lose your fear of not believing.
Richard Dawkins? Really? I understand what you are suggesting but Richard Dawkins is a rude, offensive bigot. I've read things of his and watched videos of him speak and the man is awful. He is incapable of explaining his views without insulting someone else's, especially those of religious people and that's just not what reasoned argument is supposed to be about at all.
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Old Jan 17, '11, 1:16 pm
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vetgirl View Post
Have you considered exploring both sides of the debate? The above books sound like excellent recommendations and this forum is a great place to come to get a pro religion view point. May I recommend reading Richard Dawkins ‘The God Delusion’ and googling some atheist forums? I think this may help you to organise the thoughts you are having, you may read this book and disagree with Dawkins the entire way through in which case your faith will be strengthened or you may agree and thereby help you to lose your fear of not believing.
If the OP was actually trying to discern the existance of God I might agree that such reading might be helpful. Since the title is "I need help believing...again" such reading would be counterproductive.

Peace
James
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The Best book on Spirituality that I ever Read: "The Fulfillment of All Desire"

Oh my God , I will continue
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for the love of Thee
Amen.
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Old Jan 18, '11, 8:31 am
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Contra Mundum Contra Mundum is offline
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

There is an amazing blog called Conversion Diary http://www.conversiondiary.com/

The author was a hardcore atheist but came to faith step by step, through logic, studying and genuine desire to know the truth. Some of her posts are truly amazing and I think they might help you. She writes about coming to belief in God in general terms, on discerning which church is true and what to do about the lack of fuzzy feelings, among other things.

Our religion is based on both faith and knowledge and I bet that every question you ask can be answered. Find good sources and don't be afraid to ask. Many people here are very knowlegable and are happy to help those who seek. Also, EWTN is an excellent source with orthodox Catholic teaching.

You might struggle with some things but that is normal. Sometimes it is enough to be open minded and open hearted. Don't immediately dismiss the church's teaching, learn about them and be prepared to trust her in her wisdom. God does the rest when we let Him.

God bless you on your journey.
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Old Jan 19, '11, 2:47 pm
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Default Re: i need help believing in God again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vetgirl View Post
Have you considered exploring both sides of the debate? The above books sound like excellent recommendations and this forum is a great place to come to get a pro religion view point. May I recommend reading Richard Dawkins ‘The God Delusion’ and googling some atheist forums? I think this may help you to organise the thoughts you are having, you may read this book and disagree with Dawkins the entire way through in which case your faith will be strengthened or you may agree and thereby help you to lose your fear of not believing.
1) you instinctively want to believe in God. Don't let anyone convince you that that is something you need help to get over. In response to the book mentioned above, I suggest "The Godless Delusion" by Patrick Madrid.

2) dont feel so bad for having difficulty in believing. It happens at times to people who in the end are very holy people. You probably know the story of the disciple Thomas, who couldn't believe the word of the others that Jesus had risen. He couldn't believe until he actually touched the risen Jesus, but today he is still SAINT Thomas.

3) what would you accept as proof? As one of your first steps, I think you should decide what, for you, would constitute proof that Christianity is not just a nice story. Historical evidence? Philosophical truths? Documented miracles? The examples of martyrs? There are so many good Catholic resources out there. (I count catholic.com among the best!)

4) your very first step should probably be a prayer, with as much sincerity as you can muster, right where you are right now. This comes to mind--
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! Mark 9:24.
Then as soon as is reasonably convenient, I think it would be good to ask another Catholic Christian to say a prayer for you. Ask them to help you say a quick prayer. Maybe it's an elderly aunt you can trust or maybe it's somebody who happens to be at the Catholic student center on campus, or maybe it's the priest in the confessional. You wouldn't have to give him your name, but he could pray a powerful prayer for you.

5) as you do your learning and searching for answers, don't make the same silly mistake I did as a former Protestant. I thought, "boy, if I could just show that priest or that catholic teacher this Bible verse, I would really stump them and show them how wrong the Catholic church is!". Remember that the Catholic Church is older than the Bible itself. It's not going to say, "gee,you know what? We never really paid attention to that verse before!" there's a good answer for every scriptural question you may have. If the first person doesn't have an answer, keep asking.

6) sometimes a song speaks to my heart more than logic. Your post reminded me of this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7E09...e_gdata_player
it's ""Lift Up Your Face" by Third Day.

Don't worry. You're on the right track now. Just keep looking for God. There are absolutes. Not just relativities. There is TRUTH! (And HE is in the Catholic Church!)
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