Over the course of my life, one question that's been asked of me time and time again is why I still have faith. After having my biological father give up his parental rights, after struggling with my sexual identity, after being raised in a verbally, abusive household, why do I still believe... both in the existence of God and in the goodness of humanity.
My first response has always been this: nothing else works for me. I've tried not believing in any sort of higher power. I've looked to science. I've meditated. I've lit candles and incense, sitting in silence in awkward poses. No matter what I do or where I do it, there has always been that gentle whisper calling to me. Whether I'm in the middle of a sobfest, laughing my ass off, in the throes of passion or surrounded by a quiet stillness, I still find myself face to face with something... someone... bigger than me.
In my particular case, this someone is Jesus. Oddly enough though, sometimes I've encountered Jesus in the Gospels, and other times, I've recognized him in the Quran. He's shown up in parts of the Torah as well as Bhagavad Gita. I see him in Ghandi and the Dalai Lama, in the girl at the Subway down the street, or the homeless man I took there for lunch the other afternoon. Since coming to seminary and diving into theological studies, an endeavor many friends said would destroy my faith and "take away my Jesus," I've learned to see him everywhere and in everything. I've also learned from my old ways and grown to understand that, for some people, many of whom I'm blessed to call friends, the message (or more often, the messengers) of Christianity and Christ is not all that compelling.
Having dealt with crippling depression for a number of years now, one would think that faith has been seemingly useless to me. From where I'm standing, though, it has been anything but. In times where I struggled with an eating disorder, the temptation for self-injury, and ideations and fantasies of suicide, something kept me tethered to this life and all that it has to give. Sometimes, I could put a name to it... sometimes I couldn't. This much was for certain... it was bigger than me, but not in a controlling, overpowering way. It has always been gentle, loving, even during those times that it challenged me and pushed me to my very limits.
"Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don't see." These are the words I heard growing up concerning faith. It makes it all sound so easy and simple, doesn't it? Well, truth is, for some people, faith is a simple reality. It comes quite naturally with little effort and significant ease. For others, including myself, faith takes work, struggle, and in many cases, a whole boatload of heartache. I'd be lying if I said I felt it was always worth it, at least in the moment. In time though, after realizing how surrounded I am by the faith of others, I frequently see my own faith strengthened. Sometimes it's in shouts and screams. Sometimes it's in tears or laughter. Mostly, though, my faith finds its strength in mere whispers.