When adolescence arrives, cognitive development in the brain and the drive to individuate from parents (and their teachings) merge and often cause a young person to seriously question their childhood belief in and their experiences with the Almighty. What once were mysteries about God and His universe that stimulated and stirred their hearts as little children can become seemingly irresolvable unreasonable concepts to their active and inquiring minds. This is especially true as they experience and observe more injustices in our broken world and also more serious disappointments in life.
I believe that this struggle can be a very important and even, vital, part of their larger spiritual journey over a lifetime. I have heard that if one tries to help a butterfly out of it's cocoon out of compassion for it's struggle, one can actually seal it's premature death. The given reason for this is that the butterfly's wings develop the necessary strength for them to function properly in "flight" though it's "fight" to emerge from the cocoon.
I remember speaking to my kids about the possibility of doubts that they might encounter as they transitioned into young adulthood. (Terri and I were careful to assure them that we were not worried about them "keeping up an image" of spirituality or perfection because their Daddy was a minister. There was enough of this pressure that just "came with the territory" without us adding any extra weight to it. We tried to communicate to them that we were infinitely more concerned about their journey as children of God.)
This then is the kind of advice that I gave them.
"Try not to freak out if doubts about spiritual things begin to rise up in your hearts--this is very normal. Many great Christians before you have gone through such soul searching. Please don't feel embarrassed or ashamed if this happens. Also know that we are here for you to listen to your heart anytime you want to talk about such troubling feelings and/or questions. We will never lay a guilt trip on you because of these things. Jesus said, 'ask (and keep on asking) and you will receive.' There are answers to be found for the most difficult questions that may initially seem absolutely unanswerable to you. Any question or doubt that you can ever imagine has already been asked by many before you--so you're not alone. And...a lot of very highly educated and brilliant people are dedicated believers in Jesus and the Scriptures and have even written books about such questions and the answers they discovered in their struggle."
"When you were little everything was very simplistic, but there is a simple and refined wisdom that can only come on the heels of working through complexity. God 'plays hide and seek' with humanity and He loves to play and then lose the 'game'...just like I did when I first started playing hide and seek with you as a toddler! It's all for 'love's sake'...to create the tension of apparent loss and the joy and passion of personal experiential discovery. God is very secure in His reality (His name is 'I AM'!) and can absorb any blows of doubt you may sincerely land on His massive chest in your struggle and frustration. Pour your heart out to Him--even the writers of the Scriptures did this--He is not offended by this."
"And finally, (after I heard and applied the wise advice of my dear older brother in Christ, John Gilman) no matter what, don't give up on love. If you find true love...and receive it and give it back...you will ultimately find God because God is Love."
A VOICE OF HOPE
Michael Sullivant's Blog
I am a child of God, husband, father, grandfather, spiritual father, author, speaker and hope coach.