Finding Faith in . . . Faith
As a child, I understood faith very simply, as a hope for things which are not seen, which are true.
In high school and college, I remember praying for answers to specific questions (including whether I should marry my husband) and not getting a yes or no answer. My answer always seemed to be, “Have Faith.”
Even my patriarchal blessings speaks about my need to have faith. The number of references to that specific virtue far outweigh any other topic.
Sometimes I look back on this part of my life as if it were the life of someone else. At the risk of being melodramatic, I no longer remember what it feels like to have that kind of faith. My doubts have become so large and heavy over the last 2 years that they block me from seeing the hand of God in my life, or the lives of others.
Indeed, I struggle most with finding faith that God has a hand in my life.
What used to be easy, explaining the good and bad events in my life as the will of God, now seems like bizarre mental gymnastics. I don’t want to try to make cruelty, injustice, and tragedy fit somehow into God’s plan. It just doesn’t seem right. On the other hand, when I look at my blessings and compare them to 80% of the developing world, I can only attribute the disparity to luck because I can’t imagine a God who would bless some and curse others even in this “short” life.
And yet, I’m not happy with this perception. I was much happier with my simple faith.
As I look around, I find that this is true for others. Those who hold on to the notion that God directs everything and has all of us and our choices woven into a grand tapestry seem to have greater peace in their lives. My friend who lost her baby a few months ago is a great example of this. She strongly believes that her son was called home and that he stayed on Earth only as long as God wanted him to. While she struggles with his death, she finds some measure of peace in knowing that it wasn’t random, that his life and death had divine purpose. I greatly admire her belief.
So, I step back and look at my choices. Perhaps there are more than these, two, but they’re the only ones that come to mind.
1. No Faith-I can shake my head in confusion and despair over the way life unfolds for myself and those I love. Sometimes this feels like quicksand. Eventually, I may find peace in the chaos of life without direction. I know that some people do.
2. Faith- I can assume God will use all of the good and bad to make a masterpiece. When I get the bad, I can have faith that God knows better and move forward.
Thus the second option sounds better and is the logical choice. My only hang up at this point is my grief over the greater suffering in the world. I’m not really sure how to resolve this, only to realize that some people don’t want or need my pity. Also, part of choosing faith is to allow that God has a plan for victims of unspeakable atrocities. And, perhaps part of his plan is having those of us with means, help our brothers and sisters in suffering.
Admittedly, my desire to have faith (even if it is only a desire, much like the seed Alma explains) is really pragmatic.
I don’t want to feel hopeless anymore. The same kinds of bad events happen to people with faith and without. It seems to me (now feeling strangely like an outsider) that faith is the easiest way to move forward, to not be stuck in trying to find out the whys.
So right now, I’m trying to have faith in faith. By acknowledging that my understanding of God is very limited, I’m working on taking the practical approach, the one that I see leads to greater peace. On one hand, choosing faith sounds trite, like a Sunday School answer, but on the other hand, my view of faith has changed and I’m sure will continue to change.
For me, this is just one step on a long road toward God. I just want to know that He or She is really at the end, with some explanation. Believing this makes the journey seem a little easier. For now, that’s good enough for me.