Opinions are like farts, a friend’s mother once told me. Everybody has one.
Or maybe it was that emotions were like farts: the longer you hold them in, the worse it is for everybody.
It was definitely one of those, and it most certainly involved farts. I was around 10 years old. Farts were hilarious. [Side note: 34 years later, and they’re still just as funny.]
I’ve held the belief that faith isn’t faith until it’s tested. Otherwise, it’s just an opinion.
What does it mean to have faith? To live faith? What happens when we lose our faith? How do we get it back? Is it earned through trial or does it just fall upon us like rain? Is it the same once we regain it? What does it mean to be spiritual?
What does anything mean?
Maybe it was a bumper sticker, but I once read something to the effect of:
“Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.”
It’s something that has hiked up and down my neural pathways for years if not decades. I liked it.
And then, from a Buddhist monk, I heard, “Spirituality is taking care of yourself so that you can take care of others.” I liked that, too. Of course it had to be a Buddhist; there was no mention of deity. He was speaking of the tsunami that had killed almost 31,000 people in Sri Lanka alone, and the relief efforts of his and others, and how they managed to do what they needed to do to in order not to be overwhelmed by so much death and destruction.
There’s a scene from Dogma, a movie I really dig, in which one woman is talking to another about faith:
“…faith is like a glass of water. When you’re young, the glass is small, and it’s easy to fill up. But the older you get, the bigger the glass gets, and the same amount of liquid doesn’t fill it anymore. Periodically, the glass has to be refilled.”
I like that, too.
I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere along the way, I lost my faith.
Maybe I started losing it when my youth minister flat out denied the existence of dinosaurs, or perhaps when a female chaperone at a church camp told me that it was okay to swim in a public pool while on my period without the good ol’ plug, because women don’t bleed in water. [Side note: They do, and I did, and it was horribly embarrassing to a 14 year old girl]. Maybe it was when I began seeing a small sliver of how much suffering there was in the world and wondered why a good God would allow all these things to happen, or when my church minister misappropriated funds and wrote off a rather large discrepancy to “new accounting software.”
Or maybe it was when my experience with prayer echoed dialogue from Dogma:
Or maybe my cup grew, and I didn’t know how to refill it.
At sometime, at some place, I lost faith. Faith in God, faith that God is good, faith that humanity is good. I didn’t know how to get it back.
I still don’t, if I’m completely honest.
I don’t know what I believe. I have read too much and have seen too many similarities between religions to believe that there is only one story to God and that only one account is the truth.
But I felt a void, an empty cup, perhaps. There it is, in black-and-white: I don’t know what I believe.
One of the reasons I began meditating again was to quiet the mind-clutter that keeps me from discovering what I truly believe, and not just my pat answer in response to questions regarding my beliefs. I want to see what happens when the world (and my brain, but again, I suck at that part) are quiet.
In his book Your Best Year Ever, Michael Hyatt lists the different domains of life. The first four (intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual) create a foundation for the rest, such as marital, financial, vocational, and so forth.
The first spiritual habit I’m cultivating is to meditate. I’ve lost track of the days, but I have done it every day since I made meditating a goal. [Side Note: That was true when I wrote it, however, I recently took a road trip and missed a day.] Well, I’ve sat and fidgeted, attempting to quiet the mind, at any rate.
This is just one step of many, I think. But it IS a first step.
I have no idea what will happen. I don’t know if I’ll recover my faith, if it will be the same, or if I will find an entirely new set of beliefs.
But not knowing the future, I suppose, is just how Life 2.0 rolls.
But I feel like I’ve discovered a path of endless possibility, where every single step presents more possibility than the one before it.
And this life I’m choosing, this Life 2.0, is all about the journey.