“I just want you to know, I don’t trust you yet, and I don’t want to talk about God,” said one of my very first 16 year old patients in counseling (let’s call her, Sarah) after our third or fourth session together. “Everyone I’ve ever opened up to has just hurt me or used me, so I don’t trust people. And it seems like God doesn’t really care about me at all,” Sarah continued.
“I so value your honesty, thank you! We will talk about where God is in all of this, later,” I said, shaking my head and leaning forward to meet her teary-eyed gaze. “I certainly don’t expect you to blindly trust me, Sarah. Building trust is a process that takes time. It would be unwise of you to fully disclose or confide in someone with whom you’ve not first built a relationship. I imagine that would feel very unsafe,” I posited.
Sarah quietly nodded and smiled, “Thank you.”
I believe that it is not only okay, but it is crucial that our children question their faith. We need to validate them and walk with them through their faith-journeys. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Let me ask you this… is there anything in your life that you have total confidence and assurance in that you have never asked questions about or researched? Let’s go deeper than that… think about the relationships in your life that feel the most hopeful, reliable, and intimate- didn’t these deep, important connections come through challenges faced together, working through doubt and conflict, and proven character over time? Of course I trust my doctor and the police officer that frequents the same Starbucks I do… but not to the degree that I trust my wife, or my closest buddy.
My faith has certainly been strengthened through times of blessing, joy, and abundance… but it has truly grown and been shaped the most through times of struggle, desperation, doubt, loss, anger, and questioning. These are the things that intimate, healthy relationships face. “For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.”
The common parental fear is that, by allowing children to ask questions, they will move away from the faith. Yet we are teaching our children to put their faith in a God who is very relational. He is a God who desires to know us and to be known by us. In order to create space for someone to be known, we ask questions… and this is a good thing to teach! Focus on the Family supports this thought. Focus reassures parents it isn’t unusual for kids to wrestle with faith and questioning faith is actually necessary in order to make it their own.
I’m so proud and pleased to say that Sarah and I worked together for about a year, and in that time were able to walk through healing from some major abuse and self-injurious behavior. She re-dedicated her life to Jesus, and was able to share the testimony of what God had done in our time of counseling with her friends and family.
If your child is struggling to trust, like Sarah…instead of punishing or deflecting, don’t stop praying for your child when they share their questions. Keep the lines of communication open! Validate them often, even if you disagree with their perspective (i.e. “I hear you, I know that is really real for you”). Stay grounded in the hope that your child will learn to live a fully devoted relationship with Jesus Christ, and will find a deep sense of comfort, joy, and assurance in their personal faith.
By Kegan Mosier, MA, LPCC
Husband to Mikelle
Dad of one daughter, Reese Noel
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Mental Health Counselor at Cornerstone Christian Counseling
Worship/Creative Ministries Pastor at Passionate Life Church
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