The posts for the past several months have focused on the many ways that faith is experienced and guides lives. Focusing on faith has led me to revisit some of my own beliefs and to look more deeply at others’ beliefs.
One example is how, in listening to the beliefs of another, I am developing an antidote to my persistent inner impulse to always want more creature comforts. When I focus on my desire for more money, food, control, security and the like, it typically leaves me anxious and unsettled.
But in a conversation today, a friend pointed out how we are continually invited to grow spiritually. There is always “more” available from the ultimate source of love and good. I realized in listening to her that I already have the “more” I seek. I can redirect my longing for more material comforts to believing the Big Spirit of Love that I call God always provides more – more opportunities to grow, more of what I need, more connections and love. I can quiet my urge for more by turning to my real source of more. The desire to grow spiritually is the only thing I need more of, and that desire seems to be a mysterious mix of grace and willingness to try believing something new.
Geraldine (my sweet wife) and I were at a church service on Sunday evening at the University of Maryland. It’s a joy to occasionally be able to worship with young people of college age and experience their enthusiasm and openness to exploring their faith. We sang this very simple song: “I am held. I am held. I am held by the One who won’t let go; I am held, I am held, I am held by the lover of my soul.” I was so moved by this song that I read it as an introduction to a meditation group this week. A friend in the group said it back as “we are held.” I jumped on that small word change! The notion that “we are all held” by some loving force is another beautiful way to experience “more” and “enough.”
In the next few weeks, these posts will shift to a more specific question about how faith leads to a commitment and work for social justice or love of neighbor. Before we make that transition, I want to offer a few more voices on faith in general and review some of the points of view that have been shared by guest contributors.
Tim Leadem from British Columbia described his faith journey as like a pilgrimage. He concluded his post with: “But for now, I know that I am still walking my pilgrimage; I am on a spiritual path-a path that I tread with an open heart.“
Meredith Heneghan from Minnesota kept it simple: faith is faith. She wrote: “Having faith means voluntarily finding what’s true, and doing it critically, and with empathy. To have faith is to have faith, and that’s really it! In my experience, the most satisfying faith community is the one that says, ‘We don’t have all the answers, but let’s figure it out together.’”
Joy Jones from Washington, D.C. explored the faith required when things don’t make sense. “Sometimes God can’t reveal to me in the moment everything that’s going on…Things that seemed wrong at the time were actually working to my benefit. People who loved me were working something out that would eventually bless me. And that’s what I now extrapolate to God. That although I can’t understand why things are happening to me the way they are — especially things that seem unfair, unpleasant or even evil, I need to remember that God is managing the big picture and that ultimately, he is unfolding plans meant for my good. I have to trust that the Master’s plan is a wise one, even if I’m not in on it.”
Christine Quenroe, a North Dakota native now living in Colorado, described how the childhood religion she rejected gave her a place to go in a dark time. She wrote: “What began as a leap off a very strange ledge of desperation, has become a working part of my life. Every time I put my belief to the test, my faith grows. My belief about God becomes and continues to become a belief in God, the power of the universe, creative force. The name does not matter. What matters is that I believe it.“
How do you respond to the question of what faith means to you? Join us in exploring the many ways we humans embrace some notion of faith and how it guides and changes our lives. I invite you to share your perspective on faith and your faith journey in the comments section at the end of each post or in an email to me at email@example.com.