Ya Gotta Have Faith….

By Peggie Arvidson

Ya Gotta Have Faith….

“I don’t need to know how it works, but I have faith that every morning when I get out of bed my feet are going to land on the ground and I’m not going to float up in space…because….gravity.” She said it tongue in cheek as our conversation on faith was getting deeper by the minute.

We laughed and moved on to other topics. I still wasn’t sure that believing in gravity, which can be proven by science, was equivalent to having faith.

I’ve been researching the concept of faith for several years and recently doubled-down on the research. It’s not been as easy as I’d hoped to get a handle on faith. I guess you could say that my faith in the ease of writing about faith was misdirected.

Faith comes from the Latin word fides roughly translated to mean “trust, guarantee, proof, sincerity, loyalty and/or belief.”

Can there be faith if there is no religious or God-connotation? One would think. Yet when you type “what is faith?” or “Can you have faith without being religious?” in any search engine you will find thousands of results all discussing faith in religious terms, primarily in traditional Christian theologies.

There’s no argument that faith is essential to Christian doctrine, but what about faith for the millions of people world-wide who don’t practice Christianity?

Meriam-Webster defines faith in a number of ways, as “1 (a) allegiance to duty or a person: loyalty; (b) 1 fidelity to one’s promises, 2. Sincerity of intentions,” as well as “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”

My theory has been that faith is hard to describe but I know it when I experience it.

Years ago I wrote about walking in dense fog in Northern Virginia. I had my two dogs with me and we couldn’t see more than five feet in front of us. I was worried about a neighbor’s rogue dog appearing out of the fog and raising a ruckus and I almost aborted the walk to wait for the fog to lift.  In the end I chose to keep walking, one foot in front of the other and to have faith in my dogs’ sense of smell to keep us all on the path and away from the scrappy roaming ankle-biter. I relied on trust that the path would be there as it had always been even though I couldn’t see it.

This wasn’t a life or death situation. I wasn’t in imminent danger and other than apprehension about an unlikely dog-fight I knew all would work out. That’s what life is like of course. Fog every morning and every day. We can fall into the mistaken belief that our life purpose is entwined with the outcome of an election, or the state of politics or even the condition of our bank account. Faith comes in when we step back and recognize that our purpose is always there, shining light, if we’re willing to see it. We must have faith that we have the capacity to live meaningful lives and that our meaning is separate from the showdowns we put front and center.

Recently a friend said that faith allows us the ability to get out of the house and drive to our destination, because we have faith that the other people on the road will not cross the double lines and crash into us. After all, we don’t know those people, we simply have faith that the idea of self-preservation is strong in each of us.

In these times it can seem harder to have faith like that. It’s hardto have faith in our fellow humans and their self-preservation desires. There have been far too many atrocities for me to naively believe that all humans are committed to their own well-being, given the way they act out toward others. Still, I have faith that this is all part of a plan to which I’m not yet privy.

Having faith, to me, means that I stay loyal to my promises, and to my higher self. The promises that I’ve made to find kindness instead of hate and to believe in the love in every one of us without exception. My faith gives me the platform to sustain this promise no matter how many times the 6 o’clock news shines the light on the dark recesses of humanity. I have faith that one person can make a positive impact and that showing up and being focused on that is my only job. Faith is holding steady despite the torrent of bad news – not to be “better than,” but simply to be.

This isn’t a new concept, Helen Keller said it best, “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.”

I hold faith that in 2019 all our purposes will shine brighter.

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