Life Topics

The F Word

Faith is a deep, devoted belief in something that can, often, be intangible.  In religion faith is the foundation of everything.  There is no proof that God exists.  The prayers and scripture could be viewed as hearsay lacking witness or data to back it up.  Faithful practice and spiritual renewal can nourish and strengthen a person. Without strong commitment and devout belief, you may not be able to be part of any religion.  Faith is usually taught at an early age and fostered throughout your life.  As you learn faith in God, you realize it’s not just a commodity of the holy.  Faith applies to all facets of our lives.

Richard Wilbur (1921-2017), the country’s second poet laureate wrote “One does not use poetry…to organize oneself and the world, until one’s world somehow gets out of hand.”  He went on to say, “I feel that the universe is full of glorious energy…and that the ultimate character of things is comely and good.  I am perfectly aware that I say this in the teeth of all sorts of contrary evidence, and that I must be basing it partly on temperament and partly on faith.”

Wilbur’s optimistic view of the world is refreshing, based on his positive and good attitude.  He had faith despite “contrary evidence”, or popular belief.  Wilbur basically tells us, “Call me crazy, but I believe in good even though the world is going to hell.”  Positivity, or just plain looking on the bright side, can be a precursor to having the faith that you need to carry on in the face of adversity.

Growing up, I had faith in my parents, knowing that I would be fed, clothed, and taken care of.  I felt secure and safe.  Mom and Dad had expectations of us and we didn’t want to disappoint.  Their commitment to the family and God was unwavering.  Yes, we were required to go to church and expected to have faith in God.  This was a long process of learning ceremonial rituals and prayers.
However, my parents and religion were just the start of my understanding of faith.

As a parent, I have great faith in my children, knowing that they will do the right thing, make good decisions, and be caring individuals.  They’re not perfect, but they know right from wrong.  I raised them with little religion, but taught them the importance of being dependable, accountable, and kind.  Their character was of great concern to me.  I took my responsibilities seriously, as I tried to build sensible boundaries, follow through with consequences, while leading by example.  Good intentions, right?  Well, I messed up over the years and wasn’t always a good role model.  They saw through my mistakes with love and compassion resulting in mutual faith in each other.

Mostly though, I have faith in myself.  I fall down, but always get back up.  I have faced challenges head on, maybe with slight hesitation.  Change or confrontation can be very difficult.  I remember many times telling myself, often out loud, “you got this, you can do it.”  And, there were times when I had to trust someone I didn’t fully have faith in.  In that case, I would take a leap as they say, and hope for the best.

As Paul wrote in the bible, Philippians 4:8,  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”   

Yes!  Think about these important things because they will bring joy to your life.  Paul tried to open the minds of people in distress who needed to notice the important things, looking toward the Lord.  In addition, his message brings optimism and faith to those who were lost.  He asks them to think.  Open up your hearts to all that is beautiful.  Similarly, Wilbur’s secular viewpoint echoed Paul’s directive. He subtly admitted his naivete while expressing his feelings of faith in the goodness in the world.

Have a little faith, it’s a big world out there.  Enjoy all of it.

Author: Jo Toale

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