Gotta Have Faith

All I wanted was to be one of those kids who got two days to sleep in over the weekend instead of one. Growing up in a Christian family meant one thing to me as a child: I really only had one free day over the weekend, and that was Saturday. Sundays were filled with early alarm clocks, fighting over clothes, hair products, and the bathroom with my three sisters, trying to convince the parents that I was “too sick” to go to church, and going to church anyway.

It wasn’t that I hated church, in fact most of the time I actually enjoyed it when I was there. It was just that there were so many good cartoons on TV on Sunday morning, ones I had been missing out on for years. Also, plenty of the kids at school didn’t go to church and they seemed to be getting along just fine. A lot of my non-Christian friends were even a lot nicer than my Christian ones, so I always just kind of wondered what the point of church was.

As I gracefully awkwardly entered my teen years, my view of church shifted. I’m not sure if it was because I was starting to “find my faith” or because of the cute boys in my Sunday School class, but I found myself enjoying the lessons and challenges that came with attending church regularly. I went to youth group, volunteered at Vacation Bible School, and attended church retreats. I prayed a lot, but mostly when I was in pain or struggling. My health issues (asthma, eczema, chronic stomach aches) were debilitating throughout most of my high school career and I felt a lot of comfort in prayer. When my eczema became too severe to attend school, much less wear clothing, and my face was actually bruised from crying so much (bet you didn’t know that was possible, did ya?!), I turned to God for help. He listened, He comforted. I leaned on Him in a way I never had before.

But then things got better and I drifted from God and my faith. Like so many of us do, I talked to God when I needed something, and nearly forgot about him when things were going my way, when I felt healthy and happy.

For most of my life, I have been in a constant ebb and flow as far as my faith is concerned. I always believe in God, always know He is there, but I don’t always act like the Christan I would like to be. I have gone through periods of doubt, but my personal experiences with a higher power always reassure me that I am not the only one in charge of my life.

I have gone through several periods of hating Christians, or rather “Christians.”  I have had friends, family members, and strangers alike do some horrible, disgusting, relentless things, all the while claiming to be Christians. Some have even committed these acts in the name of God! I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that people claim to be “practicing God’s word” and are so hateful, so unaccepting of others. It has definitely caused me to stray from my faith in the past few years, but I always find my way back. I find my way back because I have parents and sisters whose faith inspires and encourages me. I find my way back because as far away as I stray, the moment I come back I feel overwhelmed with God’s love and mercy. It is a feeling like no other.

Finally, I feel like I am discovering what being a Christan means to me. I say to me because I think everyone’s faith is different. Yes, we may read from the same book and even attend the same church, but faith should be an individual experience and journey. To me, faith means love. Having faith means accepting that we can’t and won’t know all the answers, and that is okay. We can all pretend to know exactly what God’s words mean in a book that was written thousands of years ago, but the truth is we don’t know. We all have different life experiences and viewpoints that lead us to interpret passages and stories differently. Again, I think that is okay.

Faith means letting others believe what they want to believe without judgement and persecution. To me, faith means leaning on God in good times and bad. Faith means not determining my worth as a human or a Christian by how much I go to church, how often I pray, or how rarely I curse, but by how much love and kindness I show others. Faith means not losing my faith when I encounter those “Christians” who make me question my entire religion because their behavior is so atrocious. To me, faith means being able to believe in both science and God- evolution and creation. I don’t know exactly how they work together, but do I really need to? Faith should be fun, messy, thought provoking, open-minded, and constantly evolving. Faith should be personal and not look the exact same in everyone.

To me, faith means hoping that my loved ones will also discover the faith that has enriched my life so greatly, but trusting that God has His own plan for each and every one of them.

Faith simply means loving others because of the love that the God I believe in shows me.

Most importantly, my faith means that someday I will also drag my kids out of bed on Sunday mornings and encourage them to find their own faith, whatever shape or form it may come in. I don’t think we all have to believe in the same thing, but we should believe in something. Gotta have faith.

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14 thoughts on “Gotta Have Faith

  1. What an amazing, authentic, and brave post!! You continue to surprise me with such a clear and honest posting. Thank you for having the courage to write about your faith journey. You have caught the essence of what Jesus said. When discussing how folks will know if someone is truly a Christian (i.e., his follower/disciple), he replied: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Part of love is speaking the hard truth sometimes, even when it isn’t popular — but even when we speak the truth, it needs to be couched in love as the Apostle Paul stressed. You do all this in your wonderful, honest and “full of faith” postings. I love you, Dad.

    • Oh thank you so much, dad! Your words always mean so much to me. Especially since you are one of those people I look up to when deciding how to live my life. I love that verse too, and always think of that song “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Thanks for your constant encouragement and leadership, and allowing me to discover my faith at my own pace. I love you!

  2. Awesome post, your words echo a lot of my thoughts exactly! I’m a Christian as well and I’ve come to the odd realization that I’m actually thankful for medical maladies like eczema, because it puts me closer to God and gives me a constant reminder of how much I need Him. I’m glad you were/are able to find such similar comfort…. I love how God is so universal to all humanity’s struggles.

    Last year I started a ritual of reading one chapter of the Bible every night before bed, but I fell off the wagon. Then when my eczema appeared with a vengeance on my face, I had many days where I felt like God was the only person who loved and accepted me, since I certainly didn’t even love myself at the time, so I started up with the readings again every night without fail (and still do them). Doing my daily reading really helped me; often times the verses would have some significant meaning to whatever I was going through or some words of immense comfort.

    I admire that you’re never afraid to be yourself, even in a post about faith. It can get difficult sometimes because the world isn’t conducive to Christianity anymore and there is so much evidence of deep evils and Godlessness in the world. You came across perfectly authentic without being preachy – exactly the kind of Christian I hope that I’m emulating in my life as well. Anyway enough of my ramblings, hope you have a Happy New Year!! 🙂

    • Wow thank you for your heartfelt and encouraging comment, I loved reading it! I definitely know what you mean about sometimes appreciating eczema because of the way it makes you lean on God more. Granted, I don’t always feel that way when I’m in the middle of a horrible flare and look like a monster, haha. Those times I have a hard time asking God “why me?” But them I’m quickly reminded of all those people with conditions SO much worse than eczema. I mean geez, I even thank God that I don’t have psoriasis. Just that seems a lot more challenging to me. And then there are people around our ages with MS, cancer, and a whole array of other problems. I don’t know how people with chronic medical conditions cope when they don’t have prayer to resort to. Sometimes that was the only thing getting me through a bad day/night.

      I love your ritual of reading a chapter of the Bible every night. Isn’t it amazing some of the things you discover that you had NEVER before heard in church? I find it so weird that there are a lot of Bible stories that people just don’t talk about. Really amazing and influential ones! I’m like “okaaay I’ve heard the David and Goliath story 3,000 times but why not this one?” I’m sure you’ve gotten a lot out of your devotional times! Agh I can’t remember the guy’s name now of course but I remember reading about a guy in the Bible who kept having medical issues over and over again and nothing was going his way. It was SO comforting to read. Through it all he just kept trusting that God had a plan for him. Know what I’m talking about by any chance haha?

      And thank you for your compliment about my writing! I knew that making a post like this would spark different feelings in different people. It’s funny to see some people consistently “like” every single post of mine, except this one LOL! But I’m okay with that! I hope that is what I got across in this post that these are my views and feelings but I am not trying to push it on anybody, I accept everyone as they are. I love that you are the same way! That’s another thing I love about this blogging world, finding so many similarities with complete strangers. Very cool. Anyway, now that I have written a novel, I hope you have a great New Year’s too!! I have so enjoyed reading all of your posts and perspectives and can’t wait to read more in 2013.

      Thanks again for your words and compliments, they mean the world to me!

      PS today was my first day without nightshade vegetables and my skin feels really good. Not sure if it is a coincidence or not but we shall see. Glad for your recommendations and input!

      • I *think* you might be referring to the book of Job in the Bible, since he fits your description of having all kinds of issues and nothing going his way. I just read that book a few months ago in the throes of a flare, since I figured “hey this guy has it a lot worse than me…. all his family died, his house is gone, and he is sitting covered in rashes miserably scraping himself with a pottery shard” lol. And then he also has these antagonizing friends that encourage him to curse God and turn away, but he holds out, trusting God, and is rewarded/blessed at the end with a whole new family and belongings even better than before.

        I’m glad that not eating nightshades is helping your skin! I hope that you continue to see improvement! 🙂

      • Yes, JOB!!! That was it haha. Thank you, obviously I need to go read it again lol. All those Bible character names just blur together. Jacob, Job, James, Jonah, I mean come on! 😉

  3. Couldn’t have said it better myself! God always finds a way to show grace and mercy and I can’t ever imagine my life without him!

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