*So I’m sharing here a talk I gave on faith, or a version close to the talk I gave on faith. Slightly modified to include a little bit more experience :) I’m not the most coherent writer so I apologize in advance!
What does this mustard seed have to do with anything?
Faith is something that most people would say that they understand the concept of, but would probably struggle coming up with an actual definition of it. That’s because by its very nature, Faith encompasses a spiritual realm that is not really guided by reasons and concrete definitions. Some attempts at definitions anyway:
JP II says that “Faith in its deepest essence is the openness of the human heart to the gift: to God’s self-communication in the Holy Spirit”.
Jesus says that if we just have the faith of a mustard seed we can move mountains.
Move mountains? Was this guy serious? These definitions only helped me so much, as in, well, not at all. When you’re coming from a place where you don’t have faith, these definitions might as well replace “faith” with “magical mystical unicorn.”
If you would have asked me my definition of faith it probably would have been something like “The excuse people give when they don’t have a reason that makes sense.” Extremely cynical. What had happened to me to take away my ability to have faith?
To me the idea of faith was never as intriguing as the results of having faith. People with faith tend not to worry about things, like they know everything will be OK somehow. People with faith are patient, yet still exhibit a calm confidence. Most noticeably people of faith are peaceful as if they know something you don’t know. I’ve always been fascinated with people that have faith. Why are they so calm?? Don’t they see the same world around them as I do?? How did they come to a totally different conclusion that it will just “be OK”??
As humans its easier for us to believe in are things we’ve seen and felt with our own eyes and fingers so much so that it becomes less “belief” (or Faith) and more “knowledge”. Especially as an engineering student, I’ve always felt that things that you can research and have exact knowledge about are the most important. Everything else is inferior. A common misconception regarding faith is that a person of religious faith must somehow sacrifice intelligence and common sense in favor of a bunch of supernatural mumbo-jumbo.
But if you think about it we have to have faith to survive everyday of life, whether we know it or not. We have faith when we go to the doctor that he really knows what he’s doing and has the degree he claims to. We have faith when we drive on the highway that other people in cars on the road have licenses are responsible drivers and won’t hurt us. We have faith that crazy foreign countries and cultures really do exist, even when to the best of our knowledge and experiences there might as well be a black hole over in the Pacific instead of Australia! Some of these things we can find ways of proving (like that Australia does exist), but other things we can’t. Proving things only get us so far. At some point faith has to kick in.
And then we have faith in people, with our relationships. As humans we have a natural desire to open up and share with each other. And at some level either physically or emotionally we all desire a connection with other people. Unfortunately many people open up in incomplete ways or put their faith in the wrong things that are bound never to bring true happiness. Things that aren’t solid, are fleeting, and leave an emptiness when they’re gone.
So with all this misplaced faith going around in tangible things and people, why is it so hard for us to have Faith in the one thing we should?
I guess I should say, why it was so hard for us, for me, to have faith in God?
It wasn’t always hard for me to have faith. When I was younger I had child-like faith, which according to Jesus, it is the best type of faith to have! …although I was a child so it probably doesn’t count. My family was Lutheran and we’d go to church most Sundays and I was really involved in church activities: bible camp, youth group, and I even acolighted (I have no idea how to spell this word. I’m sorry!) during the Sunday service. I didn’t really understand much more than I needed to believe in Jesus and God in order to go to Heaven, but to be honest that’s all I really needed to know at that point in my life. I was happy!
As I grew older though, my family moved around a lot, which prevented us from going to church regularly. That and also because my family couldn’t find one that “felt right”. I didn’t get this…why couldn’t we just go to another Lutheran church? What did my parents mean by felt different… God was God right?
It didn’t help that around the same time I was taking a World Geography and Religions class with a very witty and influential teacher. This class basically taught me that history was subjective depending on who was writing it and that all religions are trying to get to the same idea: ways to treat each other humanely so that civilization continues. Knowing that and knowing that I can’t 100% trust history itself I began to see the pointlessness of trying. If all religions were trying to do the same thing and there was no physical way of being able to see which was true then it must not matter right? The fact that many religions were out there that were all basically good just had to mean that statistically, there wasn’t any ONE that was the TRUE one. It would be too hard to find. It was all about what you personally like. So if its all about what you personally like, then truth doesn’t matter – because it doesn’t exist – and faith in crazy Biblical stories just isn’t wise.
And ultimately, it was basically luck of the draw what religion (if any) you were born into because most people just stay with their parent’s religion anyway. My childlike faith was eroding and turning cynical.
To be continued…