If you ask me, religion has a funny way of complicating things.
For example, take something as straightforward as faith. I don’t necessarily mean faith in the religious sense; I’m simply referring to the idea of trusting in someone.
Can someone be faithful and not religious? Is faith reserved for those that believe in and practice a specific religion? Can those of us that don’t identify with a religion still have faith?
I’d like to think so. From where I stand, I’ve always considered myself to be an optimist and, if you ask me, faith and optimism sound eerily similar.
Faith: complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
Optimism: hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.
After reading between the lines, it looks like both words are grounded firmly in trust. Having faith means you completely trust in someone or something, whereas having optimism means you trust that things will be OK in the future.
As an eternal optimist, trust means a lot. Every day, I tell myself that, no matter what, I have to trust that everything will be OK. Weirdly enough, this feeling never really wavers and this tends to be all the assurance I need.
When it comes down to it, my problem is sharing this optimism, or faith, with others.
Take this recent tragedy for example: a few days ago, my mom called me in the middle of the night. As soon as I saw her name in my phone, my heart began to pound. While crying on the other line, my mom told me that her brother, my uncle, had just died. He was due for transplant surgery, but died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
Since this call, I’ve been grappling with one simple question: how can I reassure her that everything will be OK?
Most people would tell her, “He’s finally at peace,” or, “He was a good man who lived a great life,” or possibly some combination of both.
To be honest, I have no idea what happens to us after we die. As an optimist, I would like to think we actually do find peace and finally have a chance to see the people who died before us, but as someone who doesn’t necessarily believe in heaven, I can’t say for sure.
Do you see my problem here? As much as I want to comfort her, I can’t, in good faith, tell her something I don’t necessarily believe in myself. It wouldn’t feel right to tell someone something just because you think it’s what they want, or need, to hear. I try to steer clear of doing this.
Maybe I don’t need to say anything at all. Maybe, just maybe, being there for her is enough. When I think about it, actions really do speak louder than words, and many times, words aren’t even necessary to show someone how you feel.
After reflecting on this entire situation, I can confidently say I have complete faith in my mom. I have confidence that she will make it through this and she will be stronger because of it. After all, she is the toughest, most independent person I’ve ever met and she has witnessed her fair share of tragedy. I know that doesn’t make it any easier for her, but I really do think she will get through this.
I realize now that faith doesn’t have to mean life or death. It shouldn’t only be reserved for gods and higher powers; we can have faith in each other, one human to another. You can have faith in someone and, sometimes, that’s all they need to hear to get through whatever life throws at them.
This has nothing to do with my mom having faith in someone or something else; it’s about us having faith in her. It means trusting that she is strong while also reminding her that she has a support system and isn’t alone.
In my opinion, faith isn’t all that complicated after all…as always, we just make it more complicated than it needs to be.
This post reflects the views of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on faith from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.