Free association tests are no longer exclusive to psychotherapy offices. We click on them when social networking sites claim they will reveal our personalities, and play them as party games. These enjoyable games act as simple exercises to awaken the creative parts of the brain, sometimes bogged down by the frantic call of business, duty, and daily life.
For me it usually goes something like this:
Belief…Help, my unbelief! Always, it is always—help, my unbelief.
I feel like this is a constant prayer of mine, a mental whisper that suddenly and audibly explodes when I behold the brokenness of the world, my city, and my home. When I am forced to see the misery and am tempted to give myself over to sorrow.
There is no one I trust with my unbelief more than God. I know this seems counterintuitive, but like the Father in Mark 9 who sought healing for his boy, I listen to Jesus when he says “All things are possible for one who believes.” My response comes out as a beggars prayer, “I believe; help my unbelief!” It is also a prayer I freely let my children see me plead.
I have never held one of my babies without my belief in a gracious, just, and loving God. I cannot even imagine what that would be like. The amount of trust it demands of me to not be anxious for their lives is something that insists upon supernatural strength.
Sending them off to school for the first time, letting them begin to cross the street alone, or allowing them to attend their first sleep over — the only thing that keeps a sense of panic from overwhelming me is the truth that God loves them more than I do, and He knows the plans for their lives.
I know their little eyes are watching me. They are observing and critiquing the life of their mother. Sometimes I wonder, which will they see and remember, my belief or my unbelief? Will they understand the beauty of how these intertwine? Do I have the guts to teach them?
I believe the only life worth living is one empowered by authentic, Jesus-centered faith. Peace that passes understanding, repentance, and perseverance are superior to a perfectly polished façade that can’t admit it’s own inability to save.
So I let my children witness conviction that drives me to my knees, and profound hope in impossible circumstances. I let them see me cry over the broken and lost. I allow them to witness me stand up for what is right, and I go to them humbly and share the grace I experience when I fail. I refuse to dress my faith up as something shiny or pretty, but have it be something that rusts and bends when real life hits. I want my faith to be my life, and offer life—something that feeds my soul and delivers nourishment to the growing faith of my little ones.
I don’t want to pretend the faith walk is easy: I want them to see that it is an authentic hike towards glory, with peaks, valleys, and a view that makes it all worth it. That the race set before them is worth persevering in, worth sacrificing for, and worth giving their all.
I know that Jesus is the only one who can answer their vexing questions that are bound to come, and that their salvation does not depend on me. Yet, I pray they would venture into life with a white-knuckled grasp on the robe of Jesus, and curious eyes that look up to God’s face of love with a seeking heart. For when the trials come and they can’t muster the strength to stare their hardships in the face dauntlessly, it is my hope that they too will pray the prayer they heard their mama utter a thousand times before, “I want to believe; Help my unbelief.”
Readers, Do you believe God can meet you in your unbelief? Where do you need to ask for His help today?
Chara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture, and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.
An earlier version of this post originally ran at Overflow.