OUT OF FOCUS
We’re Teaching This:
There’s something awesome about a 3D movie. It takes the whole movie experience to a new level. But have you ever taken the glasses off in the middle of the movie just to see what it looks like? If so, you know seeing things through the wrong lens can ruin the whole movie. The action gets blurred. Nothing is clear, and pretty quickly you can end up confused and with a headache. Sometimes reading the Bible can feel like watching a 3D movie without the glasses. There’s a lot going on. Sometimes it’s confusing. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to focus on. To make matters worse, lots of people seem to have different opinions about what the Bible says and what it means. But that doesn’t mean our only option is to walk away confused. Just like a 3D movie, sometimes all it takes is a different lens, a new perspective, to bring the most important things into focus.
Think About This:
Every family has a belief system. Even if your family isn’t particularly religious, chances are there are certain things that you believe about the world and certain values that you want to pass on to your children. It’s natural. And, as our students develop into adults, it’s normal for them to think about, question, and maybe even try on other beliefs they may have been exposed to outside our home. If it hasn’t happened already, there will probably come a day when your student makes a statement or asks a question that feels like it flies in the face of all you’ve taught them. And while it’s unsettling and uncomfortable for us, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, questioning can be good. It means they’re growing.
At moments like these, it’s important to remember that, just as our students’ bodies and minds are developing, their faith and beliefs are developing too. They may go through stages or seasons of faith that look different, but that doesn’t mean it is where they will ultimately land.
One way we can help our students navigate this tricky time is to be authentic about our own faith journey. Religious or not, we all have questions and doubts we wrestle with from time to time. We all have moments that leave us feeling a little confused or unsettled about our beliefs. And the same things that have helped us through those times may be helpful for our students as well.
Maybe it’s been a while since you really wrestled with a tough question about life or maybe you weren’t sure what to do with it. That’s okay. Here are four strategies you may find helpful when you don’t have all the answers.
- Call a friend. Sometimes it’s helpful to talk through concerns with someone who is wiser, older, or simply a good listener.
- Maybe next time you encounter tough questions, it’s time to go in search of answers, committing some time to research.
- Trust what you know. When answers are hard to come by, we can still trust the things we already know to be true. For example, I’m not the only person to ever think this way or feel this way or I believe that God is good. So, even though this situation doesn’t seem good, I can trust that He is.
- Keep walking. Sometimes the hardest and most helpful thing to do in the face of tough doubts or questions is to simply keep going. Don’t get stuck. Keep serving. Keep loving people, and trust God to help you figure out the tough stuff over time.
One of the toughest growing pains for a students’ faith is when they encounter questions that don’t seem to have answers, when what they believe doesn’t seem to line up with new information they’ve encountered.
Next time you sense your student is struggling with what they believe (even if they don’t say so), try casually mentioning a belief of your own that you’ve wrestled with and share how you responded. Maybe even mention one of the strategies listed above. Doing so may give your student both the courage and the tools to find answers and begin to grow in their own faith. .