Faith can be defined as complete trust. Most of us have been taught from a young age that faith is a firm belief in something or someone where there is no proof of its existence. As with love, with faith there is no tangible evidence, nothing to hold or embrace, it simply exists in one’s heart and mind. One can have faith in many things; God, a religion, a friend or in oneself. When you have faith you act without question, timidity or doubt.
Faith is wonderfully extraordinary, ever changing, evolving, and constantly growing. Like a rose turning toward the sun for light, faith is beautiful to witness. It gives one hope when lost. At times one’s faith can be as strong as an ocean current. No matter the distance the current must travel, or the obstacles it might encounter, the current, like faith, never stops until its waves safely reach the shore. When one has faith, one can overcome any hardship, pain or heartache. Faith will always lead you home, where ever that may be.
Having faith does not mean one cannot question, be upset and seek answers. Even people with the most steadfast beliefs, have doubts. No matter how strongly we believe in our convictions it does not mean we have failed when we question our faith, question ourselves, and question God. It simply means we are human. I believe that is the principle purpose of prayer, to ask questions. Prayer helps us when we are lost, feel misunderstood or neglected and we need guidance. At times we all lose faith in our convictions, our friends, sadly ourselves and God. No matter how strong our belief, at one time or another we have all strayed from our faith and become for a time the ‘lost sheep’.
There are times in everyone’s life when we are filled with questions. When we surrender to self-pity, lose hope and stop praying. “How did I get to this point?” “How much more pain and disappointment can I handle?” “Why is everyone else’s life so much better than mine, when I have tried to be good?” “Why am I so poor?” “Why can’t I find a better job?” “Why can’t I find love?” “Why did I lose my son or daughter?” The questions are too numerous to list, but they are echoed a million times throughout the world. If one thinks about it, we are never alone in our questions, our pain and our sadness. We are all bonded through the trials of life. With faith, together, we can navigate through any hardship.
I have a friend who once stated they had never lost faith in God but only themselves. I explained how I believe they are one and the same. When you lose faith in yourself, you have lost faith in God. If you do not believe in yourself, then you have forgotten God has given each one of us everything we need to travel this journey we call life. All we need is who we are. I know this because there were times I lost sight of who I was. I stopped believing in myself. I allowed others to make me doubt my abilities, what I could handle, what I could survive, what I knew to be true. I let them define me instead of showing them who I was. At times, I let the pain in my life overwhelm me. I built a wall between myself and God. I forgot one of the first lessons I learned as a child; God will only give me what I can bear. I had to let go of my doubts and go back to the faith I had as a child. I needed to remind myself not to question so much what I had lost but be thankful for the wonderful gifts I had in my life. I was blessed; I had experienced a pain so immense from losing a love that was so honest. I finally understood not to curse the pain but be thankful for the love. I have to believe I suffered so someone who could not handle the pain would not. There was a purpose to my sorrow, one day I may discover it, or I may never understand why. I have to simply believe in me, in God.
Like a rose, faith must never be neglected; it must be nurtured if it is to grow strong and beautiful. Sadly, if left untended, faith can languish and wither away leaving what can only be described as an ugly scar on the soul. I once carried that wound. When one loses faith in oneself and in God, one can never truly be happy. Without faith it is impossible to let go of the pain and move forward. Faith helps you find the rainbow after a storm, the joy after the sorrow.
How do we help our faith grow? One way to nurture our faith is to surround ourselves with friends who believe in us even when we may not believe in ourselves. Like God, they help us find peace in the middle of the tempest. These friends accept us for who we are, not for who they would like us to be. They view our ‘scars’ as beautiful, part of what makes us unique. They love us as much for our imperfections as our virtues. They steadfastly stand by us, behind us and at times in front of us.
Like an athlete who works out constantly to become stronger, we must ‘practice’ our faith every day so it too will be stronger. With proper attention it will be able to withstand any opponent. We nourish our faith through prayer; by trying to see the good in everything, and giving help to those in need, be it with money, or time, or simple words of encouragement. By openly giving ourselves to another, sharing our faith, it evolves, grows within them and strengthens within us. Our faith becomes stronger when we do not hide from it, we openly celebrate it, when we stand firm in our beliefs. If a friend fails to ‘have your back’; to stand with you when someone questions your character, then are they truly a friend? The same is true with faith. If you are unwilling to stand up for your faith, to speak up for yourself, for God, then do you really have faith at all?
I believe to find faith; one must study your religion’s teachings. One must also look within oneself. I am different than most people; I do not believe one has to attend ‘church’ to be one of the faithful. I have met many people who regularly attend Sunday service, who say they are ‘Christian’ but their actions demonstrate otherwise. Words do not prove our faith, our lives do. Faith can only be measured as true by God not by man.
I began this essay by saying we are taught that faith is intangible; it is a belief in someone or something that is not based upon proof. I have seen otherwise. I witness the proof of faith’s presence every day. I see it in the pain, struggles and hardships I have overcome. I witness it in the beauty and grace of those around me, through the people who have come in and out of my life. I see its affirmation in the love that surrounds me every day. Faith is the foundation of all that is good, of love, of hope for the future, and of the triumph over adversity. Faith is the seed of God’s love and faith is my constant companion.
It all begins with two simple yet beautiful words……I believe!