Faith is not the promise of getting what you want.
As a child, I sang the song “Jesus Loves Me.”
All I knew was that Jesus wore a robe and had soft, wavy, light brown hair and had His arms extended out, palms up.
I didn’t know about faith. I was just told what I was to believe.
My prayers included Santa Claus wishlist,a birthday present order, and for time to hurry up so that I could get to that magic moment that was in my head.
Faith, spirituality, religion, are words that are bantered around. Throughout the ages, and today, those words cause wars.
No one religion has ruled the earth, and humans, being who and what they are, sometimes kill to get rid of those who believe differently.
In my mind and heart, I cannot fathom why humans find that to be a valid way to live.
People suffer and are killed or driven out or denied the right to believe. That was one of the first things I learned at dinner at my house. In communist Russia, people were not allowed to believe in God. They were to believe in the State.
That was difficult for me, as a young person, to swallow. How could a state dictate what was in your head or heart?
How and why would faith be denied?
In my town of Norwood, while growing up, we had the religious divides. I was made aware that the Catholics believed differently than the Presbyterians. In my house, it was debatable as to whether Catholics were Christians. I knew Baptists were, and Methodists, were, also. But Lutherans? Marginal. Episcopalians? Didn’t have a clue as to what they were, but I liked saying the word,. Episcopalians. Sounded important.
My faith, until I reached my point of 50’s was fluid.
I let mankind, humans, sour some aspects through their actions. God was more ‘out there’ than in me. I was busy wanting to figure out who I was and where I how I fit into the world.
My heart was filled more with worry, fear, trivialities than with gratitude, love, a relationship with God.
I tired to carry most of my life on my shoulders.
God, it was heavy. Often, a burden.
I waited for signs that would lead me to faith. Prove it, God.
Once, I got mad at God. I didn’t as much talk to Him, Her), as to rant. Why did you take my mother before my father? That wasn’t the plan. He was 11 years older. Where is the order of life when you do such a thing?
In my human thinking, dad would die first. Mom used to intimate that that would happen. Must come home because daddy has too much stress and isn’t doing well.
So, I was stuck within human plans and thought.
And when my mom died first, my life exploded into something that seemed so out of control. I flailed. If dad had died first, mom would be sad, but she would have gone on with life. But dad? Emotionally, he checked out and became quite a handful.
Faith? The concept was great, but in reality? Life is what life is.
It was a darker period in my life filled with feeling like I was failing at being a good daughter and Christian, although, I thought God had failed me, too, because in my mind, He hadn’t helped.
I don’t know each of you, but I imagine that there might have been times in your life when you felt God fail you, or you didn’t feel God at all, His presence was simply a three-letter word, instead of a spirit in your heart.
What I think I am getting at, is that faith hasn’t been a straight, clear-cut, trajectory for me.
It has taken time, questions, listening, opening my heart to things other than just what I want, and seeing God as much in nature, as in humans. Humans are one component of the world.
I have learned to separate God from humans. Humans are the ones who choose hate over love, greed and power over charity and equality, evil over good, and war over peace. Those things aren’t God driven.
I have learned that just because I prayer for something, it doesn’t mean that what I pray for will be the outcome. I can’t pray that Nick or my kids or grandkids will never die because we all will die. But I can pray for their health and have faith that if they fall ill, God will give me strength and show me the way.
I choose faith, these days. Without it, I would be adrift in a world of humaness, much of which I don’t care for.
So, it is me and the birds, this morning, writing to you, communing with God. The birds are chanting. I am praying through these written words.
I have no answers for most things in life. But that is ok. There is peace in acceptance. Joy to be had in living with an open heart and mind, and loving.
Faith … it’s a mystery. And a blessing.