This was an odd term for me. Another one of these words you don’t hear very often. I thought about the opposite of it, faithfulness. And then other words like steadfast and commitment. But I wasn’t quite sure that resonated with me. I found myself thinking more about the simple act of believing. Believing in something, like God, love, the inherent goodness of people.
To think about this, of course, I had to listen to this song by Poison.
Victor Frankl writes about this some (not, you know, the epic 80’s hair band Poison), having something to believe in. His approach to helping, called Logotherapy, stresses the importance of finding something in life to in a powerful way, or to create something that leaves a legacy beyond your life or the giving back to others.
Hauerwas writes about this as well in his book Naming the Silence, stressing the importance of finding those larger meanings as a light against the darkness. Faith, it seems, helps give purpose and meaning. It helps pull us up beyond the everyday.
There is a stability when you have a sense of faith, when you have something to believe in. I suppose part of the trick is to find that something that has some deeper positive meaning. Something that doesn’t hurt others in the process. I think that’s why I find some peace in Humanism and Utilitarianism.
Perhaps it’s why I’ve recently struggled more (alas, always a struggle) with the idea of simple belief in the Christian faith being the stalwart against Hell and darkness. How much we depend on calling out whether we like Alabama or Clemson, akin to declaring ourselves for heaven or hell (pardon any unintentional demonizing of your favorite sportsball team). Does the simple commitment, paint your face and cheer for the right side quite to everything being well? I suppose everything feels safer when you look around to the fans next to you every Sunday singing the same hymns, making the same tomahawk chop (again, sportsball newbie here, so forgive the microaggression against our native brothers and sisters, I just don’t know that many team chants. Rock em, Sock em, Jayhawks? Maybe something about chalk.Or robots).
And this leads back full circle, to people who take advantage of those in need rather than helping them. Shouting at the sinners in the hands of an angry god or TV evangelism hypocrisy of, “He tells me to believe in Jesus, and steals the money from my hand.”
I’m not sure where this turned into a pushback on my Christianity, though strange I’m always drawn to that so quickly. It’s hard to separate that from my upbringing versus conservative Christianity. The idea of that different thoughts or questions are valid. Like simply the questioning in what I believe being some kind of lack of strength or refusal to drink the kool-aid.
I suppose for me, faith is belief. Hope. Intentionally reaching. Wandering the maze, if you will.
I’ll end with this, remembering a trip to Saudi Arabia where I had a chance to walk through a mosque. I was struck by the similarities between the faiths, Islam and Christianity. How we build these places to reach for something more. To create something holy that points, like a compass toward something greater than ourselves.
But that’s the thing with looking at a compass, right? We sometimes lose the focus on the journey for the destination.
So for me, give me love. Give me kindness and humility. Give me teaching and the search for deeper truth.
Give me all of that.
And give me something to believe in.