I considered myself a Christian for many years. I was raised in a very Christian community. Everyone was a Christian. I won’t say faith was a huge topic of discussion—more of an idea taken for granted within the community.
Faith was something everyone told me to have, but no one told me how to get. I spent most of my Christian years ‘having faith’ that faith would come to me. For me it was the hope that if I believed really hard, said my prayers, read my Bible, and went to church—something would happen. That I would hear God when I prayed or see his path before me.
I did these things, and for the most part I did them with joy. There was a time when I even did them a bit fanatically. I tried to always have a prayerful mindset, to be open to God wherever I might finally see him. I had fun with my church friends and singing during worship, but I still never really felt God.
Faith became synonymous with patience. If I had patience with God then, in time, I would be rewarded by the things I prayed for coming true. Or not. Sometimes God was supposed to answer your prayers by not answering them, other Christians (and Garth Brooks) told me. So maybe this was what was happening to me. I was praying for the wrong things, and God was answering me by doing what he thought was right. How could I know? Faith became more complicated.
I wouldn’t say that I lost my faith. I mean, yes, I stopped considering myself a Christian. When I was introduced to more religions and different ways of thinking, it was no longer important to me to put a label on my spirituality. I hadn’t been personally touched by the Christian God and I wasn’t positive what created the world, or if there is a ‘why’ to our existence. My faith morphed from being synonymous with patience to being synonymous with trust. It moved from God to myself and those around me.
I have faith that my friends are going to be there for me because they have proven that they will. I have faith that my fiancé will love and support and help me because he has. It has become a concrete idea where it had been an elusive hope.
I think no matter how we define it, faith takes strength and trust and patience. You don’t wake up one day invested with a whole basket of faith. You build it, which is something I learned after Christianity. I guess it’s pretty obvious when you think of the phrase ‘I built my faith on (fill in the blank),’ but I never really understood the work that goes into it. For Christians, I think all the things I mentioned above are supposed to build faith. It didn’t work like that for me. I needed the practical application of tangible acts to believe in something. I landed in a place where I have faith in myself, which I don’t think is a bad place to be.
This post reflects the views of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share 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.