I remember sitting at a local Mexican restaurant with the college pastor of the church I grew up in when I received some of the best advice I can recall to this day: "It's easier to change our beliefs to fit our behavior than change our behavior to fit our beliefs."
He knew that college would provide a context for all sorts of temptations and a breeding ground for doubts. He was right. Anytime in my life where doubt has crept in, it's because unbelief is easier than obedience.
So why do we get to that point? I believe it's a lack of three things: conviction, courage, and clarity.
CONVICTION can wane, and when we regularly ignore truth, our conviction becomes like someone who has stopped exercising--weak. Over time the strongest of fires burn out if no one tends them. We can get pretty creative when it comes to avoiding the things we don't want to hear.
COURAGE is consistency under pressure, and when the task is harder than anticipated, being for what's right can be terrifying. Compromise becomes an option, because it's easy.
CLARITY is something we all desire but can be hard to find, especially when the answer is unclear, the outcome is uncertain, or the path is dimly lit. I confess clarity has often been the catalyst for many of my doubts in my own life.
I often feel like the father in Mark 9 when he cries, "I believe, help my unbelief."
The simplest solution? Solid relationships. People who know you deeply, with common beliefs, and a willingness to sit with you on your dark days. I love the people in my life who will simply listen, not disregard pain or try to offer a solution right away.
Unbelief and Disobedience find those who are on an island, who have isolated themselves, who can't stand the reality of what their behaviors are doing to their beliefs. We truly need people, and not just anybody--people that will increase our conviction by the truth they display, fill us with courage by their consistent example, and give clarity by taking us by the hand and leading us on the days the path is darker.
Books I recommend: