This is a post for you, the one who has heard the phrase “make your faith your own” a million times, a million times attempting to make someone else’s faith your own.
I’m here to tell you, if you successfully believed in what everyone’s been telling you to believe, that’s wonderful.
I’m here to tell you, if you figured out on your own what you believe, that’s really great.
I’m here to tell. you, if you have no clue what to believe, that’s a whole lot better than just okay.
For most of my life, I clung to certainty like a giant spiritual teddy bear. I looked at faith this way: if I wasn’t absolutely, 125% sure what I believed was true, it would all unravel. If there was the possibility that what I believed might be based on a lie, an error, a misconception, or even a really, really educated guess, that sliver of doubtfulness was enough to topple the entire construct of my belief system. I needed the truth to be absolute and absolutely hand-delivered to me on a silver* platter.
I would hear people make a similar argument all the time: “If we can’t trust the Bible to be 100% accurate and authoritative, the basis of our faith crumbles,” or “If the Genesis account of creation isn’t true, then how can we depend on any of the Bible to be true?” or comparable statements about every other faith known to man. If this one point is wrong, then the entire philosophy/religion/teaching is unreliable.
But if faith has to be 100% certain and all doubt demands a rational answer to explain it away and any error or gap in crucial information causes a belief system to be completely unreliable, how is any of that still considered faith?
It took a long, painful, tumultuous time, but I finally got to the point where I was at peace with not knowing what in the universe was going on, and I discovered that it’s still possible to have a strong sense of morality and purpose. I learned that a lot of beliefs prove themselves to be wrong, and the hardest part is just letting go of them without losing faith altogether.
I’m trying not to speak so vaguely, but what can you do? This stuff gets tough to cover comprehensively.
I came to realize that there’s a big difference between absolute truth and absolute knowledge.
But maybe the most important thing I’ve ever learned is that even after releasing my grip on a completely certain grasp of life, faith, and the anatomy of the universe, I still was able to maintain a hold on things I didn’t doubt at all.
I still believe love is the strongest, most enduring power we have.
I never doubted the value of people as individually significant and collectively magnificent.
I don’t doubt for a second that life is worth living and enjoying.
I will never question the deliciousness of Reese’s peanut butter cups.
There’s more. But that’s what I want you to remember if and when it seems like maybe your whole belief system is falling apart. If you’re not sure what you believe, it’s okay. You aren’t alone in not knowing. If you don’t feel comfortable admitting you don’t believe what everyone else around you believes, relax. You’re going to be fine. Keep it a secret, scream it from the rooftop, or just tell some random person online.
It’s okay not to know what you believe. Just remember you can be sure of a few things, maybe even just one thing (whatever that one thing is may be for you) even if everything else is one giant confounding question mark.
*or maybe leather-bound?