What does confidence in God look like with Chip Dodd

How to Have Confidence in God

We're talking about what confidence in God looks like today. Most of us single parents, at one time or another, have lost confidence in the character of God because we're human and finite and hard things happen in life.

Our guest for this episode is Chip Dodd, Ph.D., who is a regular contributor. He’s a bestselling author, counselor and speaker. Chip answered our questions about how to have confidence in God.

Can you tell us what having confidence in God means?

Confidence is a result of trust. It's not something you conjure up for yourself. It's something that's created in us. Confidence means you risk, and then you trust, and then you develop reliance, and then you have loyalty towards something. But development through risk means not just believing because someone told you, but taking the risk of investing in the possibility of pain, risking our hope. When you risk, you find out whether or not you can trust. After you start to trust, you can rely on it.

This applies to how you view God. The way you have confidence in God is to experience Him. The real questions are, “Can you trust Him? Is He going to stay? Is He really here? Will He leave? Said another way, “Does He care? Does He do anything? Does your hope matter? Does He genuinely meet needs? Is He actually good?” Because you need to have an experience, not just a belief in it.

When you’re born God gives you six freedoms that are the risk elements. They're the things that allow you to develop trust. You’re born with the ability to see in the outside world what you want to attach to, what you want to connect to and what you need to happen to be whole. You’re born being able to see, feel, need, and talk about what you see, feel, and need.

You trust that someone’s going to pay attention to it so you can develop confidence. And then you imagine yourself with life in full worth. You’re born with six freedoms that allow you to risk. And then when life happens, if there's no one to help you return to keep them, you lose confidence. Confidence is built by risking how you’re made with outside sources. 

What do you do when you start feeling guilty about having some doubts?

Saying that's the problem is that doubt has to be taught because you don't come into the world doubting whether or not you can express what's happening in you outside of you. You're born with these six freedoms. God created them and they're there in you to bring everything that happens to you, to the one who made you. We take hurt, sadness, gladness and doubt to Him. Trust is built through distrust so you need to openly distrust God, and tell Him all your fears. Your hurts, your loneliness. Ask God the hard questions. In doing that, you’ll tell God the truth. 

Trust is earned and therefore whomever you’re trusting has to be worthy of it. Test God and find out. Isaiah 50:10 says, “Who of you truly reverences God? Which one of you actually listens to God? But for all of you who are in the dark, who don't do this, the answer to darkness is to trust in the name of the Lord and have confidence in your God.” Trust is developed through challenge. If you can't challenge the source of promise, then you will never be able to develop confidence.

You’re not challenging God's ways. God proves Himself to you through your needing to know if He's who He says He is. He's the one that made the promises. He promised to go with us.  He promised to go ahead of us into our futures. He promised to never leave or forsake you. And He promised to make you strong and courageous. He made four glorious promises. But you have to compare those promises to the life you’re experiencing. And then you have to bring those challenges, those struggles to Him and say, “If you're who you say you are, I don't trust you right now because my pain says this. What do you have to say back to me?” 

For someone who has gone through tremendous hurt, is it wrong for them to have doubts about their confidence in God? 

Part of the process of returning to confidence is loyalty to the one who's delivered what they said they would. This is God's job. It's our work to need to stay in the hope. 

Hope can look like doubt. It can look like anger. Hope can look like struggling—daring to hope, daring to wish, daring to want, daring to yearn, daring to long, daring to hunger and daring to thirst. The process of daring to hope is scary business because you're saying you can't do this alone and you’ve moved beyond believing. You’re seeking a witness. That's why when you’re struggling, you don’t need to go to people who will want to fix you. You need people who can relate to you. You need to go to the people who get it and don't live where you’re stuck. They have been to a place of pain and they cried out with hope wanting out and something happened and they can tell you about it. This doesn't fix you. It encourages you.

People that see there is value in pain, that’s who you will find the greatest relationships and the most helpful environment to find trust, to find confidence. People that can relate to you by saying “I’ve been in a place of doubt and I'm not going to tell you to get out of it because I value the importance of this season of challenge.”

When you’re in places of doubt you’re drawn to isolation and the darkness. You’re attracted to solutions that won't work. You’ve got to dare to be attracted to the things you hate. Lean into the doubt and say, “I doubt it yet I yearn for that, which I don't believe will happen.”

Dare to risk because you're not going to get away from how you’re created. Surrender to how you’re made as a seeing, feeling, needing, talking, trusting, imagining creature who seeks life in full because what you’re really running away from is aloneness and the fear of reaching out to someone hoping it could be better. Running from your pain isn't painful. Stepping into risking and telling the truth about our pain is painful. 

What does it mean to be known from the inside out? 

It means being able to dare to say the language and speak what's happening in us, which is sadness and hurt and loneliness and fear and gladness and healthy shame or toxic shame or guilt or anger. And then saying, “I'm so scared to trust you, I'm so scared that you will take my words and you will turn them against me.” Number one, we have to do that. 

And number two is when we dared to risks again by telling the truth with relatable people who do relationships. People who dare to risk their recovery, living out of their freedoms. What we find out is that we actually start listening to new truths. We're risking and we're listening to new truths. 

How do we find out that God's pursuing us? 

We find that God's pursuing us when we look around and we find that God's talking to us. How do we hear from God? There are five ways we hear from God. 

Number one is through prayer and meditation. Not a formulaic prayer but a truth-telling prayer. “This is where I am. This is what I need,” which communicates trust in the name of the Lord, have confidence in your God. Trust comes from me telling you where I am. And it goes on to say, but for all of you who don't do it, don't get out of the dark this way. You're going to go ahead and light your own torches and take off running. But what's going to happen is you're going to become more anxious. 

Prayer is daring to say the truth about what's happening inside of us. And most of us have lost that language. We have to get it back. We have to learn the language of the heart again. The voice of the heart. Most of us, when we start to truly bring prayer, we automatically assume that He won't care. He's not going to listen. But if we sit after prayer and if we hear nothing, then we still can say back, I don't hear anything. But I'm still trusting that there has been something other than just me. Meditation is listening to God. Even you being able to say, though I don't hear anything is an act of trust.

You're hoping and God will speak. You can be someone who says curse God or an atheist or someone who is apathetic about going to church and God will speak to you. It’s a simple process—admit that you're powerless over the thing that's making you sick and take a risk of saying that you're not God and that you need something other than what's happened. And see what happens. It works. God speaks and shows up when you cry out. 

Number two is through other people. Find a witness. Someone who is not living where you are anymore. Someone that can be with you as you struggle with doubt out loud. People who relate to you and who are comfortable letting you dare out loud, need out loud, and be grateful out loud. Most of your confidence in God comes from you finding God in other people that tell you about their experiences. People that tell you there's a way through what you’re experiencing and there's a God that is with you because He was with them. A lot of times you will believe in them until you start to believe in the One who did it for them.

Number three is reading inspirational things. Instead of going and listening to some dead song that takes you down deeper into the darkness, listen to a song that has a promise. “I'm Your Champion” by Brian Brandon Lake is a good example. Listen to it and hate it but you're hating your hope. Get on the train of healing pain. The words that have inspired other people are the word of God. It's a living word when you take your heart to it. 

Number four is circumstances. When you're stuck you ask most of the time, “Why is this happening to me?” But dare to look at circumstances as the possibility of love. God's love and God sending messages about life to you. Instead of asking, “Why is this happening to me?” Ask “God, what are you telling me?” Not “What are you teaching me?” But “What are you sharing with me?” And “What are you giving me?” Circumstances to God that goes ahead of you are actually for you now. It’s going to bring some serious struggles with God to the forefront. Struggle with the circumstances but do it out loud. Then you know that God is in it because you’ve been to places where God isn't.

Number five is illumination. God will enlighten us. St. Paul prays for us. He says “I pray that you will see life through the eyes of your heart. That the eyes of your heart will be enlightened. That you will look through your feelings, your needs, your desire, your belongings, your hope, and you're risking so that you'll know the hope, the power, and the glory that is this God in Jesus Christ that restores us to how we were born to be.” 

Those are the five ways God speaks to us. You have to dare that He is talking to you. Even saying, “I'm not hearing you,” is part of a conversation. 

All of this is actionable. It's a choice. It's an awareness. It's moving towards something rather than numbing. Having confidence in God comes down to a choice even if you don't want to do it.

The five ways we hear from God are core to having confidence in God. 

The five ways are 1) prayer and meditation 2) through other people 3) reading inspirational things 4) circumstances 5) illumination.

God pursues you.

Listener Question
How do I get my child to sleep in his own bed? 

Recognize it’s anxiety, not comfort that's bringing them into your bed. Your child is feeling, “I'm not sure I'm okay. I'm not sure you're okay.” He is wanting to have security. 

The best thing to do is have your child sleep on the floor on a pallet near your bed. Your child will then say, there’s plenty of room for me in your bed and ask, “Why can’t I sleep in your bed?” The answer to this question is, “Because we all have our space. You have your own bed and I'm not going to get in your bed. This is my bed and my space. If you want to be close to me, let's make your space.” 

You're guaranteeing your child that he has a safe place, which will calm the anxiety. And to find out what the anxiety is, ask your child questions like, “What's going on? Will you tell me what is happening in your life?” More than anything it's that your child needs a place to know without asking that he simply has a safe place he can go. 

It may sound cruel to put them on the floor. Let your child know you’ll be right next to him, in your space, which is your bed and you’re not going to leave. There's a point at which your child will say, “I think I'll just go to my bed.” 

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