What Happens When There is a Disconnect Between Faith and Feelings?

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When your intellect, faith and emotions are tied united in a firm braid, nothing can overtake you. A three strung chord isn’t easily broken. But what happens when one is unraveled? When trauma happens, many “question” their faith, “leave” their faith, or “struggle” with it. Variations on a spectrum of doubt.

For months after my husband’s death, I struggled. I never thought I would be one of “those” people. The promises of God did little to appease me and I cringed that they didn’t offer me satisfaction. I questioned whether I believed what I always thought I did. But after months of self-shame for faith more shallow than I had always thought myself to have, I had a light bulb moment.

I could feel the roots of faith deep within me, even though my emotions floundered like a caught fish. I felt rooted and scattered at the same time. My faith remained firm. My intellect could firmly assent to everything I believed. What had become unraveled was my emotional connection to all of it. My light bulb came in realizing the difference. My faith and emotions are not synonymous. They are not equivalent. Sure, it’s great when they are partnered together. The partnership makes the trials of life easier to handle. But just because your feelings are broken and wounded, does that mean your faith is too?
This disconnect is like a woman who has had her feelings hurt by a spouse. She doesn’t pack her bags and file for divorce. But when he reaches to hug her, her arms may lay limp at her side. Her commitment can remain intact even while her emotions retreat from the relationship until the emotional bond is healed.

Emotions are the first to leap into a fight. And they are the last to withdraw their troops. Emotions take time to heal. They are always the last to reach the summit of peace. So I realized my faith wasn’t my struggle. I am simply emotionally disconnected from my faith. And that, I knew, God is big enough to heal with time and wisdom.

David prayed “Restore unto me the joy of my salvation.” When Jesus asked a man, “Do you believe?” he answered, “Yes Lord, but help my unbelief.” You can have both, belief and unbelief, coexisting. Trauma, grief, and hurt can easily create friction between the two.

But there was a blessed peace that overtook my soul, when I identified the two. A weight lifted from my shoulders. I stopped questioning myself and am now able to rest, knowing the healing will come.

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