A dear friend of my mine recently told me "Have faith theologian." He calls me a theologian because, although I am far from deserving of that title, from his frame of reference I might as well be one. We all see from where we stand, and from where he stands I study and talk about theology all the time.
Which got me to thinking, 'have faith' what does that mean? (slightly living up to his moniker) Does having faith mean believing in something you can not see? Does it mean that you believe everything will be okay regardless of grim circumstances? Does it mean never being afraid of anything? Does it mean not being angry or scared or upset when bad things happen because you know that you are small and insignificant, and God is in charge?
I do have faith in a great many things in life, I hold to a great many truths both seen and unseen.
I have faith in God. I believe that he is who he says he is and he will do what he says he will do.
I have faith in both the goodness and the evil present in mankind, I have seen both and been equally shocked by their presence at unexpected moments.
I have faith that the sun will come up tomorrow.
I have faith that my children will be 'ok.' Although, I know that the definition of 'ok' means sometimes bad things that I don't like will happen to them. But I know they will overcome those things and be 'ok.'
I have faith that our military and police forces will do a good job in protecting us, however I also have faith that it will not be a perfectly done job and sometimes innocent people will get hurt.
I have faith that prayer and meditation and journaling will continue to be restorative to my soul and the soul of many others. Even if I don't recognize another person's form of prayer or know what they're saying or understand the meaning in it for them, it will restore because that is what prayer does.
I have faith that the mysteries of life will remain mysteries and that the more we lean into them and accept them the greater peace we will have.
I have faith in the unpredictability of life, that it will stay unpredictable and despite my best efforts I will never control any aspect of it.
I have faith that the doctors, surgeons, and medical professionals will continue to do their absolute best work every day because they know the value of human life.
I have faith that despite their efforts people will continue to get sick and die because our ability to control wellness on this side of heaven is limited, both by our abilities and our mortality.
I have faith that living without fear is better than living with it. But I also know shaking fear is one of the foremost challenges in life. Fear is like an addiction: we think we need it to live.
I have faith that bad things will continue to happen to us. (some of which we don't deserve)
I have faith that good things will continue to happen to us. (some of which we don't deserve)
I have faith that both of those things will make us feel a vast array of emotions some of which are highly unpleasant, others of which border on ecstasy.
Having faith is like walking a line. It is an attempt to maintain a balance between holding the realities of what we unequivocally know to be true about life AND the things we know by faith but have not seen at the same time. That second knowing is different; it is a soul knowing. Defined by me as: an unshakeable awareness of something greater than ourselves. We can no sooner unknow in our soul than we can forget what we look like in the mirror.
I have faith that my family will get through this immense and terrifying circumstance we are facing. I have faith that it will be 'ok' in some form or fashion. Although what will be ok to us then may not feel ok to us right now. We will figure it out together.
I have come to the conclusion that perhaps what my friend was encouraging me to do was not to have faith explicitly, because I already have that. But perhaps it was to: stop fearing the unknown. Stop obsessing about what may be and remember to stay in the moment. Just for today I know what is wrong that I need to fix, I know what is wrong that I can not fix and I shouldn't forget the joy of the moment. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but the fear of what it MAY bring has stolen today from me.
What we are facing is terrifying, but living in that emotion all the time is like doing sprints on a stationary bike. It's going to expend a lot of energy but you aren't going anywhere. Maybe I am the only one who can be very afraid yet still very much believing at the same time? I walk this line: I totally believe in God and all he can say and do. I also believe that he does not always do what I want him to do and people I love get hurt and sick and even die.
The ability to hold both of those things simultaneously confuses some but it is because of my LIFE that I can do so. I have buried people that I loved dearly, that were good people, and it made no sense to me. Despite this reality, I continue to have faith in God. But I do not have faith that God will always do what makes the most sense to me and that those I love will never hurt.
What I need to do now is cease being afraid, because fear is what steals life, it is what removes joy, it is what makes us impatient with our children. Fear is what paralyzes our ability to make decisions or do the dishes or figure out what's for dinner. I confess I don't completely know how to do that except to say: I have faith that it will be ok. It might not be okay right now, or tomorrow or next week, but one day things will be okay again.
"Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you." Isaiah 41:10 NLT
"Fear is not a spiritual practice." Jo Ann Kunz