Doubt


#1

I’ve been going through a really rough patch lately. After converting to the Catholic faith 8 years ago, I suddenly became severely depressed after the birth of my 4th child. I virtually quit going to Mass. I have since gotten medical help, and am feeling MUCH better after my antidepressant dosage was doubled. I don’t think I realized how ill I was until I got well and saw with new eyes!

During that depression, I went through (for the very first time) a period of complete lack of faith. This was very disturbing to me. I have now for at least 6 months doubted the existence of God at all. (Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief! Jesus, I trust in You!)

I’m posting here hoping for something. I would love to have any links to books, reading, prayers, devotions, ANYTHING to help me. I can’t accept this as “real” and I want to find my faith, peace, and joy in Christ again.

Thank you!!!


#2

Lerin,

Prayers for you to find peace!

A lot of saints have gone through periods like you describe. St. John of God called it a ‘dark night of the soul’.

I highly recommend St. Therese’s 'Story of A Soul." Even she went through an extended period where she doubted the existence of God.

Stay close to the sacraments. I know sometimes it feels like you are just going through the motions, and that they don’t mean anything, but just have faith that they do mean something. Just the fact that you don’t abandon them, even if you aren’t feeling anything, is important. Seek spiritual direction with a holy priest, if possible.


#3

Lerin,

I feel your pain. I've struggled with depression.

My suggestion to you is that you pray daily before the Blessed Sacrament and ask Jesus, Mary, and all the angels and saints - particularly Padre Pio - to heal you. Also frequent confession and daily mass.

You will deepen your faith and I pray you will find healing in the process.

God Bless


#4

Dear Lerin,

PPD faced me with the dark abyss where God used to be, too. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. Every other trial in life allows you to fall back on your faith, on the idea that there is meaning behind it all, on at least waiting for death to relieve it… but when the trial is meaninglessness and emptiness itself, what can help you?

It *is *a trial, though. Christ experienced it, too, when He cried out ‘why have You abandoned me?’ to His Father during His crucifixion. That was when His descent into Hell started. And He harrowed Hell and conquered death and understands how hard it is and is there for us and will help. But He allows us to feel a bit of it too.

And depression gives you a tiny taste of Hell, I’m sure. No torment can approach lack of God, meaning and hope. But, you know what? Sometimes when I pray I say to God that, if He wishes, He could give this trial to me again. Because this time I’d handle it with more faith and courage. I’d pray harder, just out of spite, even while feeling like I was talking to someone under water while drowning. I wouldn’t become so cynical and isolated from everyone. I wouldn’t resort to alcohol to relieve the pain.

I can think like this because this is really over for me and I have really been feeling God’s presence again. He hadn’t left me. He just allowed a chemical imbalance in my brain to persuade me He didn’t care or didn’t exist or hated me. But faith is more than feelings AND more than a belief system, and both can suffer under depression. And maybe they should. Maybe they disintegrate to give you and even stronger faith later. Faith that is a will to connect with the only Meaning in the universe, no matter what. All else can collapse and come crashing down.

I know much less now after this. I’m sure of so few things these days. But I’m sure that God exists and loves us.

I have absolutely no advice. Be honest to yourself and God. Pray however you can.

You WILL be fine. God really loves you.


#5

I'm glad the medication is helping you feel better. Hang in there.

Try to act as if you have faith in God - make it an act of will to love God by doing what you once knew He wanted of you even if you can't believe in Him or feel any love for Him right now. You will merit so much grace by doing this. God tests many holy people this way, such as Blessed Mother Teresa.


#6

[quote="Lerin, post:1, topic:189058"]
I've been going through a really rough patch lately. After converting to the Catholic faith 8 years ago, I suddenly became severely depressed after the birth of my 4th child. I virtually quit going to Mass. I have since gotten medical help, and am feeling MUCH better after my antidepressant dosage was doubled. I don't think I realized how ill I was until I got well and saw with new eyes!

During that depression, I went through (for the very first time) a period of complete lack of faith. This was very disturbing to me. I have now for at least 6 months doubted the existence of God at all. (Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief! Jesus, I trust in You!)

I'm posting here hoping for something. I would love to have any links to books, reading, prayers, devotions, ANYTHING to help me. I can't accept this as "real" and I want to find my faith, peace, and joy in Christ again.

Thank you!!!

[/quote]

I lost faith, but in my personal experience the absolute best thing you can do in terms of having faith is to practice it. For me, praying/talking to God probably did the most for my faith when I had it, as well as reading philosophical arguments for the existence of God. If you wanna read arguments, here are some links:

plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments/
plato.stanford.edu/entries/cosmological-argument/
plato.stanford.edu/entries/teleological-arguments/

If you want to believe, you definitely can do things to make it seem real to you. It worked for me for a time.


#7

Lerin,

We have 5 kids. It can seem initially more overwhelming as their numbers grow. Hang in there. I'm guessing that once you realize that you can do it, you'll get your second wind. I found it easier to have a paradigm shift in perspective to "non-stop work" mode to get most things accomplished. Then, we really appreciate what little "self time" we have. Hopefully you're not too much of a perfectionist. I think most people dream of having an ideal life where everything is in control and managable, where life goes just the way you want. Those people miss out on reaching deeper inside oneself than one ever thought possible. My wife has a placard on the wall: "We may not have it all together, but together we have it all." There comes a time when we must prioritize and forget about the small stuff.

We found that we like doing innocent and fun things with neighbors. Babysitters got to be expensive, so we invited neighbors over (once the weather breaks) for drinks and adult conversation in the kitchen while the kids play together in the yard. We dads will build a little fire at night. We get our adult stimulation, no babysitter expense, were with the kids, and an inexpensive night.

In addition, we joined a Catholic book club full of conservative parents. We can get together with any of them for a good time with like-minded people. Best Regards,


#8

[quote="Lerin, post:1, topic:189058"]
I have now for at least 6 months doubted the existence of God at all.

[/quote]

You may doubt His existence, but don't forget that He created you.


#9

[quote="Lerin, post:1, topic:189058"]
I can't accept this as "real" and I want to find my faith, peace, and joy in Christ again.

Thank you!!!

[/quote]

Hi Lerin,

Your feeling is not real. But it is a strange paradoxical grace to feel this unreality. Now, before you think I am a total kook, consider this: You are feeling what many nonbelieving people live with daily. You are walking in their shoes. You can understand why they give you that blank look when you talk to them about God. You know now why you can never feel superior to, or condescending toward, the poor nonbeliever. You know why you must always be patient with them.

Why on earth would you be given this strange grace now, after giving birth to your fourth child, after truly carrying out your vocation living in the image and likeness of God? The easy general answer is that God wants to exercise your faith. Faith is never more alive as when everything around you appears to destroy it. But the harder specific answer is something only you can discover, with His help. I encourage you to explore it.

God works through these paradoxical graces. He did with me recently, so I'm not just making this up to make you feel better.:)

-Tim


#10

:hug1: Lerin, I have been thinking about you and praying for you a lot since you haven’t been on posting much. I am so sorry about the PPD, and I am really glad the medication is working better. I will keep praying for you.

I went through some doubting when I was in middle school, (so they might not be applicable/appropriate for your situation) but it was mostly against the church and not God, but the books Born Fundamentalist, born again Catholic by David Currie and Catholicism and Fundamentalism buy Karl Keating really helped me. They let me put my faith and Catholicism in perspective.

As far as prayers, maybe you could develop a devotion to the scared heart of Jesus. I love the Chaplet of divine mercy, “Jesus I trust in you.” I will also randomly recite a creed. “I believe” and ask for greater faith as I recite it. :hug1:

I pray that the Lord can pull you out the this darkness and wrap you in his loving arms.:crossrc: :knight2:

O Blood and Water,
which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus,
as a fount of Mercy for us,
I trust in you!

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul, and divinity
of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ
In atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful passion,
Have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One,
have mercy on us and on the whole world.


#11

I really appreciate all of your thoughtful responses and especially, your prayers.

I am in a very strange place right now. I’m going to have to collect my thoughts to express myself properly. Mostly, I have been feeling an overwhelming sense of God’s Love for me, Lerin, for the first time in my life. In all honesty, I’ve always struggled with feelings of low self-worth and thought that there was something in me simply “defective” or “unloveable.” I am sure this is a product of my younger years. Anyway, my relationship with God has always been, ALWAYS been, distant and cold. I have always felt a terrible sadness and shame any time I prayed or confessed or went to Mass. I converted to the Catholic Church because there were clear “rules” to follow to avoid Hell. I didn’t realize I’ve been in Hell all along.

So again… I don’t know why (but probably due to all the people who are praying for me) but I am feeling an overwhleming, powerful sense of God’s love for ME. Endless, boundless love like I feel for my own children.

I don’t know anything else… I don’t know how to express how lost I am in my faith and religious life, but I do know that there is a God and He loves me.

Please continue to pray for me. I really appreciate your words and prayers. I need Confession and Eucharist and quiet time in Adoration with our Lord.


#12

[quote="Lerin, post:11, topic:189058"]
I am feeling an overwhleming, powerful sense of God's love for ME. Endless, boundless love like I feel for my own children.

I don't know anything else... I don't know how to express how lost I am in my faith and religious life, but I do know that there is a God and He loves me.

[/quote]

You don't sound lost at all. :)


#13

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