Wednesday, October 6, 2010

a crisis of faith.

I've never been one to debate the basic premises of Christianity. Mostly because I can't, intellectually-speaking. My faith is just that: faith. I sometimes wish I were eloquent enough or intelligent enough to present someone with evidence a Creator exists, but I'm completely ill-equipped. I wish I could say something poetic, like I believe in God the way people believe in the air they breathe or the water they drink. But really, I believe in God because without Him, I do not know who I would be. I cannot imagine my existence without His presence. And that's all I've got.

This week, during a particularly heated class discussion, I was faced (perhaps for the first time ever) with a rather public opportunity to share, if only for a moment, my reasons for the belief that I hold. We were told that answers relating to faith, hope, and belief were impermissible. Those things, the professor said, had no place in an academic discussion.

I prayed I wouldn't have to give an answer. I wasn't ready to give an answer.

So of course, the professor chose me.

My response, looking back, was pitiful.

I simply said I couldn't give one.

Any answer I have would be based on the premises of faith. Without it, I've got nothing.

Discussion grew from there, but that was my answer.

Deep down, I know my God exists. I converse with Him in the car each morning. I trust my day to Him. I see Him in my husband's interactions with the homeless and the helpless. I see Him in my parents' love for one another. I see Him in the bright colors nature delivers at the start of each new season.

These aren't intellectual reasons, I know. But they are my reasons.

One afternoon, over a year ago, just at the start of spring, two friends and I hiked to the top of a mountain. We set up a miniature picnic on a ridge overlooking a small canyon. For an hour, we didn't speak. We read silently. Prayed. Journaled. We each had needed some "alone time" with the Creator, and we reveled in those moments, moments of aloneness and also oneness. We were communing together, but apart. And when we were done, we closed our journals and our Bibles and our eyes, and we breathed deeply. And the wind blew mightily. Scarily. Eerily. For the entire hour, the trees around us had been silent. But as our pages closed and our glances shared that we had accomplished our purpose, nature put on a show. All we could do was look around in awe.

If someone were to ask me tomorrow my reasons for belief, that is the story I would tell them. They would probably roll their eyes and cluck their tongues, but there it is. That's all I've got.

Donald Miller tells this story in Blue Like Jazz:

My friend Julie Canlis from Seattle has this beautiful mother named Rachel who is small and petite and always remembers my name when I come for a visit. One morning I was sitting at the counter in the kitchen talking to Rachel about love and marriage, and she was gleaming about her husband a little, and I told her in one of those rare moments of vulnerability that I was scared to get married because I thought my wife might fall out of love with me, suddenly, after seeing a movie or reading a book or seeing me naked. You never know what might trigger these things. Rachel looked at me through the steam that was coming off her coffee and said, very wisely and comfortingly, that when a relationship is right, it is no more possible to wake up and want out of the marriage than it is to wake up and stop believe in God. What is, is what is, she said.

And that's when I realized that belief in God is as much like falling in love as it is like making a decision. Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon. [...] I have come to think that belief is something that happens to us too. Sure, there is some data involved, but mostly, it is this deep, deep conviction, like what Julie's mom feels about her husband, this idea that life is about this thing, and it really isn't an option for it to be about something else. 

I believe in God because I have experienced Him. He happened to me. And I know not everybody understands that, not everybody has that. But there it is. Through my parents, through my decisions, through my relationships and my life happenings, I have seen His hands.

These past couple of days have been challenges to my faith, wake-up calls to someone who had become quite comfortable living in a bubble that was about to be popped.

I'm a little bit more exposed now, but also, a little more confident. My faith isn't something I can explain, and I'm sorry for that. But I think, if you and I were to become friends, and you were to truly love me, and I were truly to love you, I think you would see what I mean. I think you might experience God in your own way, in your own time.

I think that just like He has happened to me, in time, He would happen to you too.


Anonymous said...

annie, i read your blog often and love the honesty you've shared lately. i love that you say you can feel know Him. I understand. i can't always explain via science (like most folks who don't believe want to hear) but I can tell of moments in my life when "all was lost" and there is no other explanation. i know science didn't help me thru it, and i know ASHLEY didn't get me thru it either.....

Lauren said...

This is such a beautiful post on faith. Because faith is intangible and beyond description. I went through a crisis of faith when I was in college and in my darkest moments when I doubted every part and every thing about the existence of God, I found that I could not NOT believe in God and what He has done for me. I still have doubts - all the time - but I have faith even more. And the moments in which I step out in faith, and step outside of myself - God meets me in amazing ways.

jenna said...

I think you just presented your faith in a perfectly eloquent and beautiful way. Your words aren't empty. They are not shallow explanations in any way. They are weighted in experience and love and peace and truth and relationship... All expressed in a manner that reminds me of Jesus. Especially this:

"But I think, if you and I were to become friends, and you were to truly love me, and I were truly to love you, I think you would see what I mean. I think you might experience God in your own way, in your own time. I think that just like He has happened to me, in time, He would happen to you too."

Love you, Annie.

p.s. - Come visit again. :)

Kari said...

That's an incredibly difficult question. The only thing I could possibly have thought of would be, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." -C.S. Lewis

But I probably wouldn't have been able to think of that on the spot. And it probably qualifies as faith. hehe.

paula said...

so beautifully said. It can be hard to explain a feeling.

Anonymous said...

That's very nice. If we could give them a intellectual reason we won't call it faith. You have faith when you can't prove something.