Once again, I apologize if my thread making is being annoying in the slightest.
Recently, I’ve been having a negative outlook on life and I always have a lingering feeling of fear and despair. It’s unusual for me, since I’m usually an optimist and generally content with life. I’ve also come into a little bit of doubt with my faith lately, but I’m sure that’s somewhat normal for teenage years. I’ve just been thinking lately, what if we’re wrong and somebody else is right? How do we know for sure that what we believe is real or not? I’m not sure as to why I’ve been having these thoughts lately, but I sure don’t want them. Every time I have a spurt of happiness or excitement, it gets crushed and dampened by despair.
I think maybe it’s because my spiritual life isn’t all that it should be. I start Baptism and Confirmation classes soon, so I hope this can rid me of my doubts and negative thoughts. If any of you have an idea as to how I can deal with this, it would be appreciated.
What do you people do when you feel doubtful or experience despair?
I had struggles with despair on my way to Catholicism, because of getting a suddenly far clearer grasp on how broad and deep the evil in the world is. However, dwelling on the wonderous beauties of the Catholic faith, the great goods, drew me out of it. Dwelling on the Eucharist, the Blessed Virgin, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, learning more about them, praying toward them and meditating on them, and dwelling more on other superb goods of the Catholic faith, really helped lift me into more positive thought patterns. Right now my life is just filled with joy.
I’m also benefiting from reading about the lives and teachings of the saints, which likewise are so uplifting.
I don’t know if this might work for you. It did for me, but I don’t know if others would react the same way. I hope so :).
Some things that might help:
I recommend reading “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. My favorite book, an amazing apologetics case using a variety of different forms of evidence to prove that the New Testament records real, accurate history. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ are unparalleled feats among all the world religions, and prove ultimately, as Jesus said they would, that He is the Son of God.
Reading up on other apologetics sources online. Read about the Zeitoun apparitions, for example. The Blessed Virgin appeared to millions of people in apparitions at Zeitoun that sometimes remained visible for hours at a time. They were photographed and even televized by the international press. Read about Fatima, too, and other such wonders. There are greater miraculous wonders in Catholicism than in any other religion, by far. I was stunned by the kinds of miracles I was reading about in the Catholic Church when I left Protestantism, for instance, even though we have a lot of miracles in evangelical Protestantism.
Start praying (to God and the saints) for a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus, and don’t give up on that prayer. If you have a Charismatic Catholic church nearby, you might try going there for a while. They know about this stuff (not that I’m saying other Catholics don’t also, but I think Charismatics often emphasize it most).
Wait patiently for the Lord’s response, which may be clearly supernatural, but on the other hand, start being alert about what goes on around you. Things other people might say, or startling “coincidences” in nature surrounding you, or messages in Mass or the Bible that directly coincide with your personal situation can easily be responses. So start listening in those ways, and keep hanging on God’s ear till he answers and you know you have a deeper relationship with Him than you’ve experienced up to now. Then, if you still want more, keep praying :). I ALWAYS do. I’ve been praying for years and coming closer to God for years, even though there have been dry and dark periods interspersed with the glowing ones.
Hey, that’s important! If you’re about to start Baptism and Confirmation classes, that’s EXACTLY THE TIME THE ENEMY WOULD TRY TO GET YOU! Baptism and Confirmation are amazing steps into God’s kingdom! They are crucial steps. That is why you are finding yourself NOW afflicted with these thoughts. I doubt very highly that it’s coincidence- I also have experienced the greatest spiritual attack right before major spiritual steps forward. Or right after those steps, in an attempt to discourage me.
Pray the deliverance prayers. That’s what I’d do, if I were you. Pray to your guardian angel, Michael the Archangel, the Blessed Virgin and our Lord for defense, and appeal to His shed blood as your protection. I’ll pray against the forces of the enemy on your behalf too.
There are ordinary experiences of these feelings, and there are those that can be caused by evil spiritual forces.
Like I said, to deal with my more ordinary feeling of these emotions, I meditated on the great and godly spiritual forces, and this raised me out of these negative thought patterns.
But seeing as you are about to take classes for Baptism and Confirmation, these are crucial steps in your spiritual life and might very well be provoking an enemy counter-attack. So I’d pray those deliverance prayers. Even if I’m wrong, which could be, saying them can’t hurt :). Praise be to God :).
If I were you, I’d take all the advice I just gave :p.
I’d dwell on the great and godly elements of God’s Kingdom, the holy and supernatural wonders.
I’d also look into the apologetics to really put some evidenciary hammers into flattening those doubts, so even if you continue to feel the doubts, you’ll at least have intellectual weapons to use against them, so you’ll know how feeble the ground is that the doubts tremble on.
I’d also pray for deeper intimacy with God and start listening more, for His voice speaking through the Mass or other sources around you.
And then I’d also pray the deliverance prayers.
That should do it, I hope :). I’ll pray for you tonight.
You will probably get lots of encouragement here. I wanted to clear up a technical point. Hope is a theological virtue. There are three, faith, hope and love. They are called theological, because they are gifts that are given us directly by God. Catholics believe that these are the three things necessary for salvation. We must believe in God and the truths He has revealed for us to know. We must hope in Him and Love Him to be saved.
There are two contravening vices on eiher side of hope. They are presumption and despair. These are opposites from one another. Presumption is kind of like taking God for granted. Despair is one of six sins against the Holy Spirit. You may be tempted to despair, but you have not despaired. If you did your soul would be lost. If you are tempted to despair you can will yourself to place your hope in God. God will never abandon you. The only reason to despair is to think God has abandoned you. Any suggestion that Hod has abandoned you is a black lie.
You are loved by God the Infinite being who made you to be loved. Faith tells you that. So you can see the three theological virtues are linked. One leads to the other.