December 2017
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31


how does one have faith? my own answer


I've been thinking a lot about faith lately, and three times recently different people have brought up the question of faith. Why believe in spirit, and specifically how does one have faith in Deity(-ies)? And I realized that I've actually learned the answer to that question (at least for me).

When I was younger and I asked "how do you know God is there / loves you / is listening?" the answers I got were vague and useless, no matter who I asked -- "oh, just have faith / you just have to believe." Essentially, I was told to ignore reason, ignore my mind, and just trust for no reason at all. And I would try, and I would scrape by, but I never felt safe or secure or fully able to believe in my own beliefs. My awareness of spirit was strong enough that I could never ignore it, but my mind was not in harmony -- half of me was left out.

Faith in Deity/Spirit is just like faith in any other being -- it comes from experience and research. Say you meet a person. You could choose to just 'have faith' that they are kind, trustworthy, honest, etc., but that faith would crumble the moment trouble came -- because you would have evidence AGAINST without evidence FOR. However, if you knew all their friends/family, learned their life story, spent hours talking to them, then your faith would be strong even if things looked really bad. It's not a bad thing to doubt and question -- that is the only way to build REAL faith that can withstand anything. I'm reminded of the parable of the person who built a house on sand versus the one who built a house on rock. Faith is the building -- but it is only as strong as the facts that you build it on. Even the most skilled builder can only do so much to compensate for a shaky foundation.

I once had an LJ friend whom I loved deeply and had a great deal of faith in. As time went by my mind picked up clue after hint that led me to believe that this person was lying to me, and my faith began to be chipped away by these things. I asked this friend for something solid which I could use to strengthen my faith, but ze refused. I tried to have faith without any proof, but I cannot lie to myself, and eventually I broke off contact with this person. I found it very hurtful that this person would not make any effort to help me -- instead, ze demanded unquestioning faith. If ze truly wanted me to have faith, why would ze deny me help when I confessed that I could not do it on my own?

The fact is, faith is not a matter of blindly accepting. It's a matter of seeking, being open, and then remembering all the experiences, all the knowledge, and putting it together to get a picture of life/love/spirit/God. Faith is not real if you copy it from others or take someone else's word for it, it's real if you build it yourself from the ground up. If you question everything and don't hold back out of fear. If I had never been willing to lose the false faith I had, I would never have built the very real faith that I now have.

Over the years I've studied various things to 'build my case'. One thing that helped a lot was reading up on NDEs and OBEs (near-death experiences and out-of-body experiences). My favorite book on that subject is Closer to the Light, written by a medical doctor and researcher who takes a (almost annoyingly) skeptical and non-assumptive view of NDEs -- ze proves that they are real experiences, not hallucinations or dreams, but leaves further interpretation up to the reader. Something survives bodily death -- I choose to believe that it is the true essence of a person, and that it survives forever.

Another thing is a book called The Secret Life of Plants. It's full of studies which satisfied my scientific, analytical side with their thoroughness / lack of presumption, and thrilled my spiritual side with what they revealed. The central focus, reflected in hundreds of varying studies, is that life is more than the sum of its parts -- that there is something more which has effect, which as of yet we cannot measure in any way. (I would call it 'spirit') It helps me to know that while science cannot prove what it is that exists beyond the measurable, it DOES show that there is more to life than the chemicals or measurable aspects that make up a body.

(((side note -- it bugs me when people assume that all spiritual people haven't put any thought into their beliefs and are 'illogical' when I know it is possible to have a very logical, rational belief in spirit/Deity. Ultimately it is an act of faith to believe that there is OR IS NOT spirit/Deity, as neither can be proven. I find it more logical to believe in spirit, or I would not believe.)))

So, essentially, there is proof that there is 'something' but it is still an act of faith to believe that that is God/dess, because there is no way to prove that. For me, it is the experiences I've had, the times I have felt zir/their presence and received messages from zir/them that make me believe. To me it is logical to believe in a personal deity(-ies) because I have experienced that in a way as real as anything else I've experienced. I have asked for signs, and received them. And now that I have found some solid foundation with which to strengthen my faith, it has grown by leaps and bounds. Now when I have an experience which many would class as 'supernatural' or 'crazy,' my mind understands that there are aspects of reality which cannot currently be explained by science, and I can believe in those experiences because of that. I'm able to trust in my spirit because my mind knows for sure that my spirit exists. My mind no longer automatically shuts out those experiences, because I have a way to understand them.

So my answer to younger-me's question "how do you know God is there / loves you / is listening?" is "because science tells me that there is more to life than the physical, and out of faith I believe that 'more' to be the spirits of beings, including Deities. My experiences with the personality and presence of God/dess show me that ze loves me and is listening, in the same way that my experiences with my friends show me that they love me and listen."

ETA: There is nothing wrong with 'blind' faith but it should not be an expectation, nor should it be held up as the ultimate kind of faith. Questioning faith is just as good, and for some people (like me) it is by far the best way.

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Comments
aetheric ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣hopeful╠══
♥ yes indeed.
mimimandy ══╣╠══
interesting to read; very enlightening. I think people blindly believe not just because they're told to but also because they want to. Believing you're special and loved and cared about is always a nice thing. Believing that no matter how good or bad a friend will always be with you if you so ask is another nice concept. -sighs- I'm one of those blind faith followers always have been but not because anyone told me to blindly follow by. My mother took me to several different types of churches over the years (of many types of christianity) before settling at her final church and informed me that when I turned 16 I could decide for myself until then that was the church she believed strongest in and was most at home at. I've always believed in a higher power. I always assumed it was because of all my disabilities. I don't believe I was made to be percieved as damaged goods just because with no reason whatsoever. I believed someone had to have made me because they loved me so unconditionally the way I was and I stuck to it and eventually most of my issues evened themselves out. Someone else I once met told me I believed because I was once retarded and all retards believe but that person was a bumbling being. I've always wondered how so many other people could just not believe or need proof its always amazed me but I think its done that way for a reason to because I think once you do believe (providing you do eventually believe), I think it makes your stance and your belief incredibly powerful feeling. When I hit sixteen I did stop going to church though. I felt as if I was being judged there by my fellow peers and perhaps some of their parents and coming up short and I didn't believe I was put on this world to be a who is more successful game. I believe that higher powers (IE my God) should be loved and cherished and celebrated but I don't feel as if I need to do that in a church as God loves me no matter where I go I also don't feel the need to constantly "preach" to others although I know nad have met many who do it. I feel God, high powers, religion whatever, is such an intimate and personal message that if someoen wanted to discuss it with me great but if not or doesn't want to hear it great too yanno. Sorry for the novel but this was such an amazingly insightful message/entry and I just had to comment and add my 2 cents!
Mandy
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
thanks for your input!

I think maybe I wasn't too clear on this because I was coming at it from a certain angle, in response to various questions I'd heard around...

I definitely value believing without 'proof' -- I wasn't speaking against that at all. I was just saying that if you have faith in something, you can make it even stronger by adding more knowledge/understanding/wisdom to that. Certain people I've known have implied that it is destructive to faith to seek confirmation, but I think it can only be helpful.
mimimandy ══╣╠══
thanks for your input!

I think maybe I wasn't too clear on this because I was coming at it from a certain angle, in response to various questions I'd heard around...

I definitely value believing without 'proof' -- I wasn't speaking against that at all. I was just saying that if you have faith in something, you can make it even stronger by adding more knowledge/understanding/wisdom to that. Certain people I've known have implied that it is destructive to faith to seek confirmation, but I think it can only be helpful.


I got what you where saying and I don't think anyone thought otherwise lol. I think and feel if people need confirmation they should always seek it. God says he will always e there for those who seek it so if they seek it so be it yanno. Everyone has to come to terms with a form of higher power/religion on their own terms so who is anyone to say its inncorrect,
csakita ══╣╠══
interesting synchronicity, I was/am dancing with the topic of faith/belief a lot the past few days :)
... and it is only logical to use logic in forming beliefs, IMO XD ... and then an amazing experience known as faith can happen, me thinks :)
belenen ══╣vivacious╠══
isn't that always the way? it's been a theme for a bit now in my life and I finally put fingers to keyboard to write about it.

;-)
tindomerel ══╣╠══
Interesting subject. For me faith is a decision that goes beyond any boundaries. A decision to believe in a posite outcome. A decision to learn to Love more and stay in connection with the wisdom & Love within. And even in darkest times it is there even when I do not see it. Life takes care of me and I exist. It is enough proof to me. :)
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
oh yes, faith is all that to me too. I think maybe I wasn't too clear on this because I was coming at it from a certain angle, in response to the attitude that some people I've known have had, that it is destructive to faith to seek 'proof'. I was just saying that if you have faith in something, you can make it even stronger by adding more knowledge/understanding/wisdom to that. I definitely value believing without 'proof' -- I wasn't speaking against that at all. I certainly don't have proof for everything I believe, but I have experienced the strengthening of my faith with the increase of knowledge.
sidheblessed ══╣╠══
it bugs me when people assume that all spiritual people haven't put any thought into their beliefs and are 'illogical'

It annoys me too, though the irony that assuming everyone who is spiritual to be illogical is illogical in itself kind of amuses me.
belenen ══╣amused╠══
heh ;-)
wlotus ══╣Aum╠══
Your definition of faith makes far more sense to me than what I was told when I was growing up. I, too, had a lot of problems with just believing, especially when reality flew in the face of what I was told I should believe. While I now consider myself a disciple of Jesus Christ, I am agnostic as far as the question of God/god/"a higher power" is concerned. That may change later, but it is who I am today, and I am learning to accept that, in spite of my conditioning.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. They are helping me make more sense of my own feelings on the subject.
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
*nods* yes, indeed. I remember such an attitude of "don't seek any other voice on spirituality because it may conflict with what the church teaches" but my relationship with Jesus would not be what it is if I didn't learn from other sources. Real faith will not be destroyed by learning more!

I'm so glad it helped ♥
kmiotutsie ══╣╠══
I believe in intuition ;) intuition tells me that i'll be taken care of, and intuition tells me which people in my life can be trusted and which people i'd be better off keeping all the trust-business to myself with ;) it's still possible to be friendly to those folks too, haha
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
I definitely believe in intuition too!

With the particular friend I was referring to, essentially I began to suspect that everything ze was writing about was fiction. I don't have a problem being friendly to people I can't trust but I don't want to be friends with someone who doesn't tell the truth at all.
phoenixdreaming ══╣forbidden fruit╠══
I have a sad feeling that I may know who you're talking about. Whether or not that's true, it spurred me to remove someone who's probably not coming back to LJ again. If so, that'll be the second time (here) I've been bitten by and enamoured of someone who was a lie, but an interesting enough lie that I ignored my instincts...
kmiotutsie ══╣╠══
i hear ya-- that's a real drag
queerbychoice ══╣╠══
I disagree that there is nothing wrong with blind faith. Blind faith is believing without asking questions, without weighing the evidence, without caring whether or not the evidence supports one's beliefs. This obviously leads to a much greater likelihood of believing falsehoods than if people asked questions, weighed evidence, and changed their minds when the evidence indicated that they should. People's beliefs influence their actions, and when people choose to cling to false beliefs, these false beliefs influence them to take actions for misguided reasons. People taking actions for misguided reasons cause practically every single evil in the entire world, including all manner of prejudice and discrimination. Blind faith is the cause of Proposition 8.

Blind faith can occasionally, by random unthinking coincidence, lead people to do good things too, but it leads them to good things far less often than the alternative - bothering to actually think about and thoroughly question what they do - would ever lead to. Blind faith is just about the single most horribly wrong abstract concept I know of in the entire world, and should be condemned in no uncertain terms rather than excused with statements that it's fine for other people to practice it but equally fine for you not to practice it.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
well, I think we mean different things by 'blind' faith -- I really should have defined what I meant. I don't mean unthinkingly believing what other people tell you -- that is lazy and irresponsible, and not actual faith at all. I would call such people religious, not believing/spiritual/faith-full.

By blind faith I mean 'believing without proof' -- which I don't think is wrong at all, but I also don't think it is exclusive of questioning faith. Blind faith to me is the jumping-off point, where a person starts. My 'blind faith' belief is that God/dess is love, and I have strengthened that belief by expanding my knowledge of life. Aspects of my faith are still 'blind' in that they have no proof, but at the very base of my faith I have a foundation of facts/patterns which I have learned and observed, and I am always willing to alter my faith based on new information, so I would call my faith 'questioning.' I still believe the same core things I always have -- just, now I believe them stronger because I have more reason to.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.