Nathan Told Me He Didn’t Believe in God (And What I Told Him)

Today’s article is from the heart of my very talented, almost married son, Nathan. He wrote and sang the vocals in the beautiful song above, his fiancee, Rachael, sang the harmony, and my other son, Joel, so wonderfully arranged it. Read Nathan’s story below, and take the time to listen and share his song!

I waited with a worried heart and a furrowed brow for my parents to come and say goodnight. Usually it was a quick prayer and quick “love you goodnight!”- but tonight I had something to tell them that had been burning a hole in my heart.

I could feel knots in my ten year old stomach, while I unknowingly wrapped my fingers tighter and tighter around my sheets.

On the walls around me hung pictures and poster of heroes and great figures standing tall representing the strength a young man’s heart longs for, but tonight I didn’t feel strong or brave, as yet another distressing wave of doubt came over me.

The door swung gently open and my parents entered ready to send me off to bed as they prepared to end their day. After a short prayer and a pat on the leg they prepared to leave when suddenly I said “stop, I need to tell you something”. 

Gently concerned, they turned back around and asked me what was on my mind. A bit of fear welled up within me mixed with a twinge of shame as I took a breath and let it come out “I don’t know if I believe in God.” The words hung in the air and the silence was almost more than I could bare. Then I felt the gentle hand of my mother rest again on my leg as the worry left her face and a sleight smile came over her face, “That’s okay.”

Astonished that my mother, the most godly woman I have ever known, so nonchalantly took in stride my doubt of God, I replied puzzled… “It is?”

“Of course” She said “Every true believer will have doubts and questions about God, that’s very normal, when I first met Jesus, I know I did. You are a great boy Nathan, and I have no doubt you’ll be a great man.” And with one more “Goodnight I love you”, my parents gently left the room taking the weight of the world I had been carrying, with them.

That night my parents gave me something amazing, through their allowance of my doubts they gave me the ability to know God on a greater scale than I could have ever known him while having a faux faith forced upon me.  

Whenever I would have doubts, having felt the freedom to communicate with my parents about them she would tell me “Don’t worry Nathan you remind me of the great biblical hero Jacob, who wrestled God”, “I do” I would ask wondering how? “Yes” she would say “And that’s a great thing, because wrestling is a full contact sport and when we wrestle with God we are in communion with him, which is ALWAYS a good thing.”

The song above was written years after that night in my bedroom, miles away from my parents in a small apartment in Hollywood. I had been going through a time of doubt and struggle with God, not unlike the struggle I faced when I was ten. I wanted to put all my fears and doubts into a song but felt a pause thinking maybe, I shouldn’t doubt God and just pretended to be okay. But then suddenly I could again hear my mother’s words echoing through the confines of my minds memories “Wrestling with God is a GOOD thing, wrestling is a full contact sport, and as long as we are in contact with God you have nothing to worry about.”

So with a pure heart, I wrote an honest song to God that ultimately brought me even closer to my creator.

That night in my bedroom, my parents gave me a gift. They gave me the gift of allowing me to doubt, struggle and fight, because they knew that is who God had created me to be. And because they allowed me to wrestle with God, they by default allowed me to be in full contact with him.

I encourage you, wrestle with God, doubt, struggle and be brutally honest with Him, He can take it, and doesn’t mind at all- when you do this you just might find that engaging in the full contact sport with your creator will bring you closer to God than you ever might have thought.

If you would like to download Nathan’s song on iTunes click here.
If you would like to download Nathan’s song on Amazon click here.


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  1. says

    Thanks once again for sharing your children’s stories/abilities with us Sally. It has encouraged me, and hopefully encouraged my 16 year old daughter today as I shared it with her. I need to keep my eyes on Jesus knowing that He’ll see my kids through to the end of their homeschooling years and are such a good resource for me and example as to how the Lord helps us moms to have confidence in Him.

    Leanne in Ukraine

  2. says

    Wonderful Ms. Sally. Thank you for allowing your son to share his story. This give me encouraging and hope for my children’s future.

    Sometimes as a parent you want to be quite to tell your children, never say you don’t believe. It is our duty to believe, but you have shown here that just a few words of encourage with no blame or guilt can make a world of different in how a child sees God.

    The only God our children will see at a young age is US. Through us they will go to understand who God truly is. I pray that I am living by example.

    Peace to you.

  3. Holly says

    Thanks for sharing! Beautiful song and message. My husband and I lived in the L.A. area for 10 years – what a great place to live, worship, and shine for Jesus. God bless you guys.

  4. Ashley says

    Nathan expresses himself so well–I really enjoyed this. And your response was helpful, too. I loved hearing his perspective, and how your response freed him up to have a ‘real’ relationship with the Lord…his own. The song is lovely, too!

  5. Julie says

    What a beautiful song! Thank you for sharing. And thank you for the words of wisdom, which are doubly helpful as they come through the filter of someone who applied them… I needed this today! Blessings on you, Sally Clarkson and on each of your children. I pray you will enjoy your new daughter in law as much as you have your own children! You can write a whole new chapter soon on being a mother in law!

  6. Amy says

    Sally, I would love to know did you use any character training homeschool books besides your Family Ways booklet? I have looked for booklets in use with character training, but it is difficult to find them.

  7. Michelle Clinton says

    Sally, God has given you so much wisdom. Thank you Nathan & Sally for sharing a look inside your hearts and home. Two of my three sweet boys have shared with me that they don’t believe there is a heaven. I did not give them the grace to doubt. I didn’t fuss at them, only tried to convince them….

    Planning to go and plant some grace today.

  8. Judy Grieve says

    Sally, thank you for sharing this wonderful message backed up by the beautiful song of worship. I know you have a smile on your face a mile wide, as all us proud and happy Moms do when we see our children truly become more than we ever dreamed they would be.

  9. Samantha says

    Thanks Nathan for sharing that. I have always prayed that my children will have an intellectual crisis of faith and an emotional crisis of faith while at home with me so that I could help guide them through it. However, in recent years, as my own faith has been sorely challenged at times, I have realised that even working through those issues while under my guidance would be no guarantee they will make it through their life still clinging to God. But I love what your mom shared with you. She gave you the confidence to have doubts and not be afraid of them. She gave you the framework to handle doubts rather than just the answers to one lot of issues. I think I will remember that analogy for ever – wrestling is a full contact sport. Thanks again for sharing.

  10. Monique says

    Beautiful! Just beautiful. The fact that your children collaborated together and all love and serve God is so wonderful. It is my prayer for my sons and daughters!

  11. says

    When I heard Nathan speak this last weekend and again when you spoke about him, I immediately had my own 9 year old son on my heart. He is the hardest parts of both his parents, but also the best parts, and we are challenged but so crazy proud every single day.

    He struggles already with doubt and has theology questions and concerns that I as an adult have rarely even had. He listens to William Lane Craig and mostly understands.

    He is a challenge but he is a leader.
    He is determined but he is faithful.

    And when I heard that song during your talk, I had it downloaded before it even finished playing. It was my son. And in many ways, I honestly realized, it me as well.

    Thank you both for sharing. For being vulnerably honest. For being the first to say the hard things so that others feel safe saying “me too .”

    Me too.

  12. Janelle says

    Sally and Nathan, thank you for sharing your story, your heart, your struggle, your wisdom. These were more nuggets for this mom’s heart to cherish and as I walk through the last few teen years with our two teenagers.

  13. says

    Loved listening to the song and what a great memory of an important moment. Thanks for the encouragement to keep talking and keep that line of communication OPEN and NOT to be emotional or irrational in the light of our children’s questions & thoughts…

  14. says

    As a worship leader, songwriter, and homeschooling mama whose 11 year-old son recently said something to me along that same line, I am touched by this article. Your response, Sally, was the water and the warmth needed to nurture the seed already planted. You’ve tended to Nathan’s soil well. I’m both blessed and encouraged.

  15. Anita says

    Thank you for sharing! Such good timing! My little 5yo daughter the other night (who hears God’s voice, loves him, prays passionate, genuine prayers and delights in dancing in worship to Him) said to me out of the blue at bedtime “Mum, sometimes I’m not sure Jesus exists…”
    I panicked and said “But darling, you know he does, he talks to you and you love him! You KNOW he’s real!”
    I really need to read this, to be reminded that I have questioned, and struggled in my faith too… it’s just that God has answered and I’ve chosen Him, both, time and time again. Thank you! I talked to my little girl, too.. I said “Sweetheart, I’m sorry for the way I answered you the other night when you told me that. I was wrong to answer in that way. It’s ok to wonder. I know God will answer your questions when you have them, and even strong God warriors have questions and worries and doubts sometimes! So you just ask those questions, I know God will answer them for you :)”

  16. Hippie4ever says

    Good for you Nathan! And good for you Sally! And thank you, because I believe I may be having a similar conversation with my son someday – you put my heart at ease how simply you handled it :)


  1. […] When your children wrestle with God: I can’t begin to tell you how many times we (but mostly Jimmy) have had late night “theology” talks with Taylor.  And of course it’s always right when we’re about to walk out the door with our final goodnights (we’re freeeee!!!), when he whispers something like…. “Mom, Dad?  Um…How do we know that the God we believe in is the true God and other gods are not true?  And how do we know that Jesus actually rose from the dead?”  (Yes, this was his latest question just this week…)  So when I read this post from Sally Clarkson’s son, who I feel Taylor might possibly be distantly related to, I felt such a sense of peace and calm.  I highly suggest taking a moment to read his perspective.  Also, the song on that post?  I bought last weekend and have been replaying it over and over all throughout the week.  You. Will. Love. […]

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