I wasn’t raised a religious person. I don’t remember my parents ever taking us to church; if they did, it was only on holidays. And clearly it didn’t stick.
I went to church with my friends sometimes. I volunteered for Vacation Bible School. I joined Young Life in high school. I even went to church camp a few summers. I sang the songs, said the prayers, willed my heart to believe in every way possible…but it just couldn’t.
As I grew up, I felt the skepticism sink in. I realized that my participation in Christian-related activities was more of a social opportunity for me than a religious expression. I found myself asking questions that no Christian would ever ask because God had the answers. I felt the concept of “God” drifting further away with each passing day, and eventually I stopped saying I believed in God altogether. I had lost faith.
what is faith?
Google “What is faith?” and you get two definitions:
Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
The Bible also has plenty to say about faith.
Hebrews 11:1 says that, faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 describes faith as “the gift of God,” thus it is not something we create ourselves, but instead something that God gives us, and he is the source of faith. It is through faith that one “pleases” God, and pleasing God is what every Christian aims to do. At least, that’s my understanding of it.
I think the strongest feeling I have towards the concept of faith is envy. Faith is something I do not have, but wish I did. Faith provides a sense of comfort and trust that someone is watching over you, that you’re not alone in your journey through life. While one could argue that no one is ever truly alone (because of friends or family or the kindness of others), sometimes those people let you down, and even when they do, you always have God. I don’t feel that same comfort or consolation from faith or God.
In that same vein, faith in “God’s plan” has the same benefits. When something bad happens, or even something good, it’s all part of a greater design. Those events have been predetermined and laid out in front of you to guide you on a path that God has created. Understanding and believing that to be true provides comfort in those bad times. If this is all part of God’s plan, then one can accept the bad things that happen and find comfort in the thought that everything happens for a reason. I don’t have that same comforting thought.
And those who have faith also have prayer. I get this sense from prayer that if you pray hard enough, believe strong enough, and trust in God’s plan, you will get what you desire. I envy people who truly believe those things will bring them what they want in life. This diffusion of responsibility or control must be a huge relief. If you do not get what you desire, then the reason is obvious—you did not pray enough, believe enough, trust enough, or it wasn’t God’s plan. Whatever it may be, there is always a reason in which you can feel comfort. I don’t have this.
why can’t i believe?
To someone who does believe in God, it’s all so obvious. So easy. It’s inexplicable why someone can’t feel the faith that they feel, but I feel the same way about those who do believe.
When you read the many definitions of faith, there is one underlying element that I just can’t get behind—the idea that you have complete trust in and devotion to something without logical proof, something intangible, something you cannot see. The fact is, for me, I am more comfortable with the tangible. Putting my complete trust in something I cannot prove is an impossibility for my mind. I need something more concrete than that.
One might say that miracles are all the proof that you need, but who says miracles are God’s doing? As much as it could be God, it could be something else, too.
I also find faith to be cyclical. It’s a self-fulfilling system, therefore it can never be wrong. If you pray, you’ll get what you want. If you don’t get what you want, you didn’t pray enough or it wasn’t God’s plan. No matter what happens, it’s all up to God and you have little to no control over His plan. And, as a self-proclaimed control freak, I can’t relinquish control over my life like that. I can’t believe that no decision I make is my own. I want responsibility over my life. Plus, I am not without my own questions to which the Bible often has answers, but they are never quite satisfactory. It always seems to tie back to having faith, praying, following God, and things will turn out the way they’re supposed to, but all of that is difficult for someone like me to comprehend.
what do i believe?
It’s hard for me to argue that there isn’t something out there, but maybe “God” just isn’t the word for it. In casual conversation, I’ll use “the universe” or “fate.” I’ll even joke about “karma” and how the world has a funny way of balancing itself—because, in my honest opinion, it does. Things usually do happen for a reason, even if that reason isn’t clear at the time. Bad people really do get their comeuppance eventually. Good things really do come to those who put good out there. With that kind of evidence, it’s hard not to believe in at least something.
I don’t believe in God, necessarily, but I do believe there is something bigger than just you, me, and this little planet we live on. There is something that moves the world. Reasons why there are good and bad people, tragedy and miracles. A greater plan in which our lives are tiny subplots that barely, if at all, rattle the storyline. I just don’t feel the need to label those beliefs as something.
I also believe in some sort of afterlife. What that is, I have no idea and I don’t care to figure it out, but I do think we go somewhere, whether it’s the mind or the soul. Maybe the only reason I believe this is because believing in the finality of death is too much to bear. I’m okay with that. so where does that leave me?
I often find myself looking for the right word to describe my beliefs. Am I agnostic? Atheist? Undecided? Does it really matter?
At the end of the day, God just isn’t really my thing, and that’s okay.
I don’t share this with you to incite an argument on God or the Bible. I’m not looking for someone to “show me the light” or convince me that I should believe in God. I just want people like me out there to know that they’re not alone and that there isn’t something wrong with them if they don’t believe in God. It’s okay not to define or label your beliefs. It’s okay not to believe in God.
What is more important than what you believe is simply being good. Always be kind. Be humble. Take care of others. Love. Give. Leave this world a slightly better place than it was before you were on it. No matter what religion you believe, we can all agree on that.Published in