Allison Chetta has been kind enough to allow us to republish her testimony on our blog. The wording of her testimony has been altered by our proofreaders with Allison’s permission.
Allison Chetta’s Testimony for Credo House
I stumbled across Credo House’s ministry in a dark time in my life. But before I get to that, let me give a little of my background.
I grew up in northeastern Georgia as one in a family of seven kids. I had the best of childhoods. My parents were genuine, faith-centered, loving people. We went to church every time the doors were open. I was heavily involved in church ministries from music to bus ministry, etc. I prayed to receive Christ as my Savior when I was fourteen. After graduating high school, I went on to a Christian university to study music. My junior year, I was a resident assistant in one of the dorms. After completing my degree, I worked as a camp counselor before traveling approximately two years on a ministry/evangelistic team. Here, I performed music for churches in many portions of the Northwest and Northeastern states. These were sweet years of ministry with wonderful people. They were very possibly two of the most maturing years for me as a young person.
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I had my ups and downs along the way. In college I struggled with why God bothered to create a world if he knew that some would not accept him in the end. Maybe I never worked through this completely. Perhaps I pushed it aside amidst trying to graduate from college. Yet, was this merely a seed of doubt that was only to grow into a much deeper problem? When one of the members on my ministry team began a phase of fear and doubt concerning his faith, my own faulty lines of thinking were possibly accentuated. I managed okay, at least until my time with the team ended. After I left the team, I began an intense phase of doubt. I don’t think that word had ever carried so much weight.
I had specific “trigger points” that possibly aided in my spiral of doubt. Here are snippets:
- The teammate who was going through his own journey of doubt probably helped to magnify areas of my spiritual life that were not yet settled.
- A friend of mine had a brother that had left the faith. I couldn’t seem to wrap my brain around it! Why would he do such a thing? His background was similar to mine, and yet he’d taken a completely different path. It seemed so bizarre.
- After being inculcated in Christian circles, I started working in a secular environment. It shocked my spiritual system, you might say!
- I’d just begun my graduate studies in bioethics. The subject matters often forced me to face the fact that much evil had taken place in the world (e.g. Holocaust medical experimentations).
I didn’t know what would happen or if I could ever resolve this. The torrents and waves seemed so burdensome, and I was the victim. It was as if I hadn’t learned to swim and needed a hand to reach down and pick me up.
My doubt was horrible. I didn’t want to not be a Christian. I definitely didn’t want to “lose” my faith. Quite the opposite! I desperately wanted faith—I don’t know if I had ever wanted faith so much. While my theology didn’t allow for loss of salvation, my doubts were deeper than “just” salvation. Perhaps I would have felt relief if I’d only doubted one aspect of the Christian faith. Sadly, I found myself unsure that there was a God! It’s humbling to admit; but this was my new reality. I was uncertain…living in a dark cloud. I didn’t know how to feel certain. I was dealing with something so basic that any talk of topics such as sanctification seemed superfluous. Was God even there in the first place? Once I knew that, I could deal with the rest later.
I’m including some or my email correspondence with Credo House during this time. I was reaching out for help from my bondage.
I came across your website last night in the midst of such a dark night of the soul for me. I would love to correspond with you and perhaps get some help from you and your ministry…it seemed to be EXACTLY where I am right now.
Is this a current blog and would you be open to my questions, or is this even the right email address?
Thank you so much for your ministry. It found me at a very hard time and is a bit of fresh air to a really burdened soul.
“…I seem to have gone into a sort of depressive state this summer with different stressors and can sort of obsess about a thought until I almost go in circles over and over in my mind. Probably doesn’t help that I can tend to be super analytical and philosophical… and perhaps like sensory data – something i can see and touch and prove….”
“…But the scariest part of all this is the fact that I have entered the realm of doubting His existence and perhaps I feel that I have entered a much greater demise than someone who merely doubts his or her salvation, for instance. I guess my question is, is there any hope of recovery? My heart’s desire is for the Lord. Obviously i’m not perfect (although my mom would probably assure you i’m a perfectionist – which might be playing into all this)… but how desperately I want a relationship with him… I have no desire whatsoever to leave this God I have loved… I have nowhere to go that offers the life He offers and yet seem to hit a wall with doubting something so fundamental. It’s like someone who has a math degree and then doubts whether 2+2 does in fact = 4. Seems so erroneous but can fell [sic] like you’re caught in a storm and are drowning a little bit. I’ve recently gotten some books like The Reason for God by Keller and a book about science proving God by Ray Comfort. But honestly, even if CS Lewis was sitting right here, I’m not sure I would “feel” like I believe although so want to… Does any of this make sense?…”
“…Thank you so very much for your willingness to talk through this. Half of this probably didn’t make any sense at all, but not sure my heart is making a lot of sense at the moment.”
What a vulnerable, humbling place to be. We can be often proud in our “spirituality.” Having that pride stripped away is a truly exposing experience.
People handle doubt differently. Some may prefer to be alone in their search. I guess my mode was a bit more open. I was open with my mom, and she was so gentle and precious. I sought help through different people, yet talking never really seemed to “fix it.” I got books like Tim Keller’s The Reason for God. I came across Credo House and was counseled by Michael Patton. These are perhaps the most helpful things I remember about Michael’s counsel:
- If you want to know God…that is hopeful and a good sign.
- At some point my brain possibly went through a breaking point of sorts. I didn’t need to try so hard to “get” faith. In time it could come back naturally. My brain needed a break. Activities that allowed my brain and emotional state to be distracted were good.
- I could stand on shoulders of other strong Christians for the time being.
I believe it was my former pastor who brought my attention to a passage where John the Baptist, in prison, asks if Jesus was truly the awaited Messiah. One would think by this time John the Baptist would be a “super” Christian with no doubt as to the authenticity of the incarnate Christ as Messiah. Yet there he was, asking what seemed to be a relatively simplistic question. Our questions are not bothers to God.
Relief finally came one evening. I don’t remember all of the details. I had been reading in a book for my master’s degree; and in a matter of seconds, the excruciating pain of uncertainty seemed to just assuage. Was God lifting this burden? My reasoning skills, my fortitude, my perfection…nothing except waiting seemed to work.
Praise the Lord for his faithfulness through a phase of doubt. He is so gracious. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to say, “I believe in God and have confidence in his existence.” But this evening I can say that He really is there, and he’s never leaving! I can now confidently say, “There is hope in Christ even when there seems to be only a dark cycle of doubt!”
The truth of who He is isn’t dependent on how I feel from one day to the next. The truth of His Word will always be true, no matter what our culture tells us or what our emotions scream at us. When once He does a work in our hearts, we can rest in the confidence of who He is. Is there still a faith aspect? Sure. After all, we can’t see Him. But… “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29b).
God understands our feeble minds. We deal with things like perfectionism. Sometimes this can be manifested in ways like wanting perfect knowledge of the spiritual realm. We can be obsessive in our thinking. We want to control situations. We want control over our doubt and the outcome of a thought pattern. Through all these things, God is so good and gentle.
Of course we want to be secure in our relationship with God. This isn’t a bad thing, but it may mean being patient. God is there and He’s not going anywhere. Wait and seek, and wait and seek. Let Him give the light in His beautiful way and perfect time.