Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's just a phase

   When I was in High School, I dated on and off but one thing never changed - I always got dumped.

   Yup, right around Valentines Day I knew it was coming - when spring rolled around it was time to say, "see ya later."  It got so routine I made up a song.  It was called "Valentines Day You Give Me The Creeps (you remind me my girlfriend is gone in six weeks).  Its a favorite.  Not really - it just reminds me of how fickle dating can be.

   In fact, the whole dating thing has a very interesting cycle.  I think it goes something like this:

Stage 1:  Somewhere around Middle School you either wake up to attraction.  It is very awkward and more group-driven than genuine.

Stage 2: In High School commitment never matches emotion; one year later you hate the girl you loved.

Stage 3:  In College you begin a transition of just having fun to looking for a mate.  It gets weird.

Stage 4:  Young Adult - you are newly married, totally in love and all kinds of plans.

Stage 5:  Love tested: Maturity, circumstance, selfishness, expectations and reality make you re-think everything.  Sadly, some walk away from commitment because it didn't match their expectations.

    What if faith and doubt are similar in their stages?

Stage 1:  As a child, when your parents tell you about God, you believe whatever they say.

Stage 2: Ardent believer:  my little girl will go to sleep at night with her hand over her heart saying, "I love God so much."  It is great, but I realize that she is only 5 and I would love to see that kind of devotion at 45 . . . but we'll see . . .

Stage 3: Teen years: questions start to get bigger than mom and dad . . . the kind of questions that only you are able to solve.

Stage 4:  As a young adult you build on your decision you made in the teen years.  You either build ideas around your faith or your skepticism.

Stage 5:  As an adult it is very unlikely that you will ever change your mind about what you believe (or don't believe).  There is a sense that you are done, mature or 'finished' thinking through things like faith.  You either divorce or you deepen your faith.

   It is sad that people come to this.  The truth is that we are never done learning and discovery is less of a linear cycle as it is a spiral that we continue on through our lives.  What if a person's divorce from God is a phase related to their stage of development?  You can read more by checking out Erikson's developmental stages or Marcia's or Fowlers, but it is an interesting question to think about:

"What if my doubt is a phase I am going through and faith is waiting on the other side?"


  1. John,

    I may be more of the exception than the rule, but I came to Christ as an adult. I was raised Catholic and had all of the baggage that that entails. I spent my teens and early twenties as skeptic and a seeker. The only reason why I returned to Christianity was because of the work of apologists like you.


  2. Awesome thoughts John. I appreciate this because my boys will be raised as Christians and I am now aware of what they "may" go through in their walk. Hopefully with this knowledge I can be more understanding of the phases. I never thought about the fact that a time of doubting could just be a "phase" in our journey. (Though I can now see that is exactly what happened to me). This will help me with our boys! Bryan, I was raised Catholic and I went through those very same things. I always "believed" or at least knew somewhere deep down that Jesus was real and so was God. But I definitely had a period in my teens and early twenties where I searched for answers. I also came to a deep faith and unshakable belief through individuals like John and people not giving up on me but praying for me.