In college I took a personality test that broke people down into types of questions. Supposedly this told you what type of information you needed to feel satisfied as a problem solver. Some people were what. This group did fine with surface information, and had no need to dig deeper. As long as they had the basic facts, this group was satisfied. Another group was who, and they of course needed a source behind the problem in order to get to the business of solving it.
I fell into the group of why, which my professor explained was the hardest group to satisfy. As a why, I need explanations, logical ones, or I have a tough time proceeding. I need as many details and as much background as humanly possible before I am satisfied with the puzzle. I am the theater teacher who wants to know your motivation. My incessant need for why can lead to very well put together arguments and also drives my husband crazy.
It would stand to reason then, that as a why I would have a hard time reconciling myself with faith. I mean, most of the time, there is no why. Why (or the inability to answer the question) is what often brings people to their knees or sends them running the opposite direction of a higher power. For me, the why is something I have decided to leave to religion-not faith. I have plenty of Why questions for my Catholic religion, and I am not sure I will ever be totally satisfied with those answers. But, I choose to forget asking for the whys when it comes to my faith. Faith, I don’t question. After all, faith is belief without proof, right? Here is the only answer I need to satisfy me when it comes to faith: quite simply, I need my faith to live.
I need an afterlife.
Call it heaven or the underworld or whatever you believe; I just need to know that my mother and father are dancing there. I need to know my mom and Ginny are laughing together and my mom and Gege are sharing a cocktail and catching up. I NEED to know that all the turmoil and heartbreak and sacrifice my mom weathered while she was here on earth all with a smile on her face and gratitude in her heart, was worth it because now her soul knows endless joy. I need that. Perhaps that makes me weak or naive. So be it. I believe.
I need my faith to keep my ego in check.
Children are wonderful ego-checkers. Working with teens, even more so. Oh, how deliciously self-absorbed was I as a young woman? I thought the most important things in the world were my job, my apartment, and what my husband and I would do on vacation. Then I had kids and some days I forget I am even part of life’s equation. In reality though, children can have you so wrapped up in them and their impact on your life that you actually aren’t any less self-centered than before.
My faith helps me remember that we are all here for others.
It is my job as woman of faith to teach the kids around me to look outside and figure out their place as servants of the world. Had I no faith, had I no belief that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves, I might only focus on winning soccer games and class officer elections. Or, worse, I might only focus on all the bad that has happened and will happen to me and everyone else in the world.
Without faith, I might only question why storms happen instead of figuring out how to help those who were there. I might choose to focus on the sadness and grief that comes from losing two parents to cancer, rather than finding ways to fight the disease so that other people don’t suffer the same. Some people can act this way without relying on a higher power. Good for them. I need a holy reminder and a little grace. Without my faith, I might let my ego win.
Having faith keeps me humble.
Sometimes, in the thick of the day to day, my life may seem ultra-important and all consuming. My faith reminds me I am a citizen of this world and a servant to the next. My faith reminds me I am a small part of a large picture. Some people say they have this without believing in a higher power. More power to them. These believers say their faith is in humanity or in just being good. Call it what you will-but faith is faith. Dig a little deeper and they just might find there is a source they aren’t yet willing to acknowledge. Either way, does it benefit anyone for either of us to work to discredit the other? No.
My faith brings humility while also providing me a sense of worth that I am not sure I would have otherwise. I am able to feel confident in my efforts because I know that I was created in purity. Therefore, at my core I am good. My mistakes and my decisions and my actions, as a human, might look the opposite of good. I may cause damage. I will make mistakes. But I can forgive myself and try again to do better because of the confidence and peace my faith provides. It is not an easy journey.
I will stumble and fall and experience disappointment on life’s journey. I am not chosen any more than the next to be on it. I do not compare my life to others’ because their journey and decisions are theirs alone. Faith is a private relationship. I make no claim to know mine is the right one. But I have chosen to accept it and to accept others for their own journey, no matter how alike or different it is than mine.