What to Do When You're Running Low on Faith

The dangers of putting "faith" in things other than God.

BY DAN DOWLING FAITH October 20, 2017

Faith is walking toward your dreams despite the odds. It’s knowing that your best effort is enough, and that you’ll be provided for through God’s grace. Faith is fearless.

Every person of faith knows we need faith more than food, even. But how do you just magically “get” it? How do you go from not believing that you can even be happy to living out your purpose and fully trusting in God?

I discovered that faith, like most things, is a learning process; and that if you want to leap, you have to walk and hop first.

My faith journey

I struggled with faith for the first half of my adult life. I just didn’t think that I could take care of myself or be happy, so I didn’t even try.

I put faith in my girlfriends, trusting them to make life meaningful for me. I put faith in my parents, trusting them to take care of me when I needed to provide for myself. But all the faith was misplaced, because I never gained an ounce of happiness, security or self esteem.

Eventually, I found my faith. Here’s how:

I putting faith in relationships over God.

Relationships had been a crutch for my lack of faith.

In every minute I spent trying to make a relationship work before I’d found fulfillment in me and in God, I was telling myself that I wasn’t enough—that I couldn’t make it alone. So the faith I put in another person was faith robbed from me.

I didn’t know how I was going to be happy. I didn’t know when I was going to be happy. But I knew another girlfriend wasn’t the answer, so I made the decision to be single until I was prepared to love unconditionally.

That was my first walk of faith.

I chased my passion.

In all the years I’d spent washing dishes, waiting tables and jockeying cash registers, I was tacitly telling myself that I’d never have anything better. I never planned for anything better. And that meant that I couldn’t be happy alone.

So I stumbled into one job I didn’t like after another, always quitting, or willfully getting fired, and needing someone just to stay sane, until writing was the only thing I hadn’t failed at.

Eventually, I made my first hop of faith: I chased the writing dream.

In pursuing that dream, I discovered a couple faith facts.

If you do something every day, you will eventually succeed. No matter how low you’ve been, everybody has skills and experiences that are valuable to other people. And I’d always be taken care of if I served others with my passion and my profits (tithing). 

I achieved independence after the first year of pursuing my passion—something I had believed impossible. And in making a difference to others while doing what I loved, I realized that I actually didn’t need another person to be happy.

There were many times I was anxious about where my next meal or rent check was coming from. But when I had the choice of curling up in a ball or leaning on God, faith became natural.

I was missing one key element of faith though.

I started giving.

If human nature is to give selflessly, which is to imitate God, that means learning to give is our greatest lesson—especially when giving is hard.

In staying single and pursuing my passion, I’d grown my faith from a speck to a rock. God had always given me everything I needed to get by, but it seemed I’d hit a glass wall separating me from abundance. I was scraping by, but not thriving.

My natural instinct had been to pinch and hoard every penny that came my way, which I did for a year. (Natural enough when you’re eating acme-sized bags of white rice.) But after one payday, I finally realized that giving was never going to get easier. I had debts to pay off and necessities to purchase. Yet I still felt the overwhelming urge to give a portion of what I’d earned anyway.

When we pray to grow closer to God, he shows the path through urges and desires.

So I tucked away 10 percent of my paycheck, and asked God to send me the person who needed my help. No one came. And my bank account kept getting lower and lower. By the end of the month, I had nothing left but that 10 percent. How was I supposed to give that away?

The answer was to leap.

As I was spending my last bit of money on a blown-out tire, I came across a mother who needed the money I had saved. I cringed at first, fearing for my future; but I remembered that God had always provided for me before, and that he wouldn’t just stop—especially as I was making my first leap, helping His children. And I was right. Just as I was getting down to my last bit of food, I was miraculously delivered $5,000 of new business in a single week—by far the most I’d ever earned before.

This first tithing experience was the cornerstone for a successful coaching practice that has helped me share God’s grace and lesson’s on faithful living with people from six continents. 

My walk of faith began when I stopped using romantic relationships as crutches. I grew my faith by choosing to follow my dreams, and I cemented my faith by learning to give freely of what I’d earned.

DAN DOWLING

is a writer and coach who teaches people how to plan for a faithful and fruitful life.

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