I use to have faith.
It permeated nearly every aspect of my life and was infused in the way I viewed the world around me. I carried it so deep in my soul that it helped me make peace with my past, soak up the small beautiful moments of my present, and face my future without fear. But somewhere along the way, while tackling seemingly insurmountable challenges, I lost it.
In the recent weeks as I’ve been chin-deep in pain and confusion and loss, I’ve felt myself grasping for that faith. Wishing it were still there, longing for the old familiar lifeline that always reminded me that there was something larger than myself, something that I could cling to no matter how stormy things were around me, something that would both ground me and lift me at the same time. But I didn’t know where to look. It seemed like that part of me was so long gone there wasn’t even a scrap left to dig up.
In desperation I turned to my buddy, research. If you know me, you probably know I’ve been referred to as the ‘binder queen’ numerous times and I’m a killer list maker, Google-er, and document-er…an overall organizational/management nerd. And when I feel unsure or indecisive about something, I go into full on binder-mode. It gives me a way to feel active in my own progress, to feel like I’m doing something when I don’t know what to do. And this area of my life has not been immune. In a short time, I’ve learned about rituals, Buddhism, candle magic, Wicca, Taoism, taro, Unitarian Universalism, astrology, 11:11, and a lot more. This isn’t the first time in my life I’ve sought higher knowledge about forms of faith outside of what I’ve practiced in the past. But it is the first time I did so with such desperation.
The interesting thing is, I felt a small amount of connection to certain aspects of each of these ‘alternative’ (I hate that term but not sure what else to call it) forms of spirituality. Each had an element to which I could associate something within myself and some part of my life. But nothing felt ‘whole’. I still felt a niggling in the back of my mind that kept leading me back to the faith I once knew.
So, in a moment that I still haven’t defined as clarity, curiosity, or culmination, I went to church on Sunday morning for the first time in a very long time. I picked a place I’d been once in the past (albeit 10 years ago), asked my mother to keep my son (as I will not subject to him anything without plenty of thought), and looked up the service times. I didn’t set an alarm or get anything ready to visit. I took a very ‘fated’ approach to the entire thing: I didn’t set an alarm, I slept until 10:20 when the service was at 11 AM, I took a long shower and dressed slowly. I told myself, if I’m meant to be there it will happen. Imagine my surprise when I walked, fully dressed, into my room and saw the clock said 10:38. I drove slowly, fought for parking, and still walked inside in enough time to get a cup of coffee from the Fair Trade stand and find a secluded seat. I sat down and sipped, waiting to be either be struck by lightening or completely enlightened.
After the familiar intro Passing of Peace, Call to Service, hymns, and Doxology, I sat back and opened my Bible, waiting to see if what God sent me that morning would be fitting for my needs. Imagine my pleasant surprise when the topic of the sermon was… Faith. More specifically, centered around this one verse:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. — Hebrews 11:1
Call me crazy, call me desperate. I may have been reaching or I may have been touched, but I just knew in that very second that I was meant to be there that morning. Who else needed to hear those exact perfect words? Maybe many people, but in that moment, it was just me. I know I looked like the crazy woman, but I cried tears of hope. Sitting along, I quietly cried tears of brokenness, of loss, of pain. And it freed me.
I don’t know what else to say of that moment, other than it gave me a small piece of that faith again. I left that church that morning with a tiny sliver of hope and I plan to return next Sunday in hopes of that small piece growing larger. In regards to religion and spirituality, I firmly believe to each their own. And perhaps in this visit, I finally found my own…or returned to it. If not, that is alright. But I’ll keep trying, because I now have the faith that the perfect form of faith is out there for me somewhere. And thank God for that. Thank God for reaching out to me, for planting that seed in my heart and bringing me exactly where I needed to be that morning, no matter what eventual output it brings.
What gives you faith? What keeps hope alive in your spirit? Share with me.