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What to Do When a Loved One Abandons Their Faith

By Mormon.org
Overcome it together (digital poster)

The Nature of Faith

Faith is a living thing. Everyone has access to it. It can grow or shrink. It can be fed or starved. It can thrive—and it can die. Choosing to nurture or neglect faith is a very personal choice, and people abandon their faith for all kinds of reasons. So what happens when your own faith is thriving and you have to stand by and watch the faith of a loved one die? It can be really hard— but it’s not hopeless.

You Don’t Have the Full Picture

Whatever is happening in your loved one’s heart and mind is beyond your view, but it isn’t beyond God’s. God knows their thoughts, feelings, and experiences intimately. God will never forsake them, nor is He oblivious to how your loved one’s choices are affecting you. His love for them and for you is the well from which you can draw strength and comfort when you’re feeling broken over their loss of faith.

Respect the Journey

Sometimes faith ebbs and flows. As human beings, it can be difficult to keep a steady stream of faith. We all face unique challenges that are designed to test our faith. Will we invite God to help us through them, or will we insist on treading the path of life without Him? The beautiful thing about life is that it’s up to us. Nobody can choose for us—and that’s a good thing.

Because we can’t really know how life is affecting our loved ones, we need to be patient when they’re struggling with their faith or when they seem to have abandoned it altogether. God knows their heart. Respecting the journey of our fellow travelers can be an exercise in patience, but it is also something each of us will appreciate from others if we find our own faith is waning.

What Can I Do?

You might wonder what you can do about your loved one’s loss of faith. You can do more than you think.

  • Love them. Knowing you’ll love them regardless of whether they’re able to have faith will strengthen your relationship and will at least allow them to have faith in you.
  • Respect them. Remember that for many it is normal for faith to ebb and flow. Sometimes an ebb in someone's faith creates a greater appreciation for the times when faith flows strong. Your respect and patience with what they’re going through may be what they need most.
  • Pray for them. Your own faith can be a blessing in their lives. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man [or woman] availeth much” (James 5:16).
  • Be an example. Nurture your own faith. When you humbly live what you believe, and do so consistently, your life can be a powerful example of faith, without you ever having to say a word.

In the Book of Mormon there are many examples of how wise individuals handled their loved one’s loss of faith. Order your free copy today to strengthen your own faith and to expand your knowledge of helpful ways to support your loved one.