It can be dangerous to share with a large number of people something that irritates you. I never had siblings, but even in my house I knew caution around sharing pet peeves. Yet, we are a trusting, compassionate community. So, here goes.
I do not have enough hands to count the number of times that I have heard this short phrase. In hospital rooms, family gatherings, at the grocery store or even at the nail salon you can hear someone share “just have faith.”
As a chaplain, I would often hear it said from the lips of someone who was very anxious about being present to another person in pain. In a way, albeit unintentional, “have faith” is a way to distance from the pain of another human being. By offering advice or trying to fix the situation, you move farther from the despair or the suffering. Again, it’s usually not at all intentional.
And, if I am honest, at different times in my life I surely have offered versions of “have faith.” Is it not those things that irritate us most which are a reflection of some part of ourselves?
It is difficult to sit with someone in the spaces of despair when the world falls apart. Far from a question of atheism or theism, the spaces where one loses faith aren’t really about the crumpling of belief. I think more often the spaces when faith is lost or destroyed are about the radical change of the elemental bonds between one being and another. It is about the shifting of something beyond belief. It is the shifting of the world, as you knew it.
This is real.
You do not have to believe in a god to go through a shift in your faith.
It can be a personal event, or even a series of local, national events that begin to call within you this bubbling doubt.
In our faith, we believe the doubts are holy spaces too. In our trust of the world, in our faith, we try to open ourselves to the experience of doubt. We hold doubt to be a process that enables creative, cataclysmic and transformative energies to emerge. If you never doubt, then do you have anything but a theoretical faith?
So come this month, and consider a faith beyond belief. Consider a lived faith that articulates the connective bonds of our lives, and is constantly in change, doubt, transformation through the connective bonds with all life.
In faith and doubt,