It's an interesting topic that's been on my mind quite a bit since I reconnected with an acquaintance from high school. He's a leader in his church whereas I am...well, I'm spiritual in a nonconventional way. (read: lapsed Catholic)
I never know exactly how to express my struggles with faith. I asked the boyfriend once, "Do you have faith?"
He answered, "In what?"
I said, "In anything. Anything at all."
His response? "That's a good question."
It is a good question, right? A question that those with a solid belief in their religion have no problem answering. After all, faith is the basis of their beliefs. For example, every time I have a discussion with my mother about the Bible, and question anything she quotes me, it goes something like this:
My mom: "Because of this and this and this."
Me: "But how do you know that this and that are true?"
My mom: "Because they're written here."
Me: "But how do you know that's real?"
My mom: "Faith."
I never have an answer for that last one and it's SO frustrating. I mean, I have faith in some things that I don't even think about. I have faith that the sun will rise each morning. Faith that Starbucks will be open on my way to work. :-) Faith that my parents will always be there for me if I need them. But faith in religion? Notsomuch.
It blows my mind that my mom has faith in the Bible in the same easy non-thinking way that I have faith in the sun. She says she just chooses to believe. Is it really that easy?
I carpooled for my last volleyball match of the season this year. On the ride home, I was speaking to my teammate about various sports played when we were younger. I mentioned that I hadn't played any sports but soccer....and then I remembered one of the biggest achievements of my youth.
"Yeah, I played soccer all through middle school. Actually, my team won the city championship."
"Yes. I remember I was SO excited about that. Even in the days leading up to the game I was excited. It turned out that the game was a really close one, and it came down to the end. I don't remember exactly how we won, but I do remember asking God if he could help us win, and that if he did, I would be so thankful I would thank him every day for a year."
"Wow. That's pretty presumptuous, isn't it?"
"I know. How silly was I to think that God cared about a soccer game in Indiana? But I was about fourteen years old, and I needed his help. I thanked him every day for a year too. Faithfully. I didn't miss one day."
"So, is that a Catholic thing? Do all Catholics just assume that God is on their side and wants them to win?"
"Of course not. I had faith that he could help me, and I bargained for it."
How young was I? But look at all that faith I had. I had that easy, nonthinking faith in God that I now have in the sun. In fact, it was STRONGER than the faith I now have in the sun (that I now know will eventually quit shining :-) God was all powerful and he could do anything. He loved me, he cared about what I wanted, and he would help me out because of that.
I know now that that's not how religion works. I get that. And while I know that childlike faith was somewhat misguided, I can't help but long for how easy it was. My parents taught me that there was a God - so there was. He had a son Jesus - got it. Jonah was swallowed by a whale - uh huh.
Somewhere along the way, I learned to question these things, and unfortunately, the answers I got were never good enough to put the questions to rest in my mind. Maybe I ask too many questions.
I guess it just seems that so many things you put your faith in (relationships, friendships, the idea that everything will work out for the best) seem to fail you. To me, it seems like the only thing you can put 100% faith in is something you can 100% control - like yourself.
But how cynical is that?
I prefer the unthinking, all encompassing faith of my youth. I just wish I knew where I put it.