What is faith? Is it blind trust in an unknowable entity that somehow, somewhere, there is a good purpose to this universe? Is it the substance of things hoped for? Is it the child-like trust in a knowable, loving father, that he will always be there to catch you? Is it the evidence of things unseen? Is it a destination at the end of a life long quest? Or is it a journey filled with trials and moments of both belief and unbelief? Is it the same thing to every person? Or is faith as undefinable as what it is placed in?
It was the summer of 1994, I had just turned 9 years old and the Lion King was fresh in the theaters. I had at the time, and still do today, a love hate relationship with that movie. I hate the death of Mufasa, I hate Simba taking the blame and guilt from Scar; but I love the redemption at the end. At one point in the movie, Simba, Timon, and Pumba are looking at the stars and guessing at what they might be. Simba speaks of the ancestors looking down on us from heaven and the others laugh. But he doesn’t lose his faith that his Father is still up there. My grandfather was in the hospital, dying of cancer. He would rally and make it another year, living in total 4 years and 6 months longer than doctors initially predicted. But at the time, we weren’t sure that was how it would go. Death was all around, in the smell of the hospital corridors, and in the movie that relative after relative took us to see so my parents could be at the hospital. I chose to believe like Simba, that after my grandfather died he would be able to watch me from up in heaven. I had faith.
It was late spring of 1998, just a month or so before my 13th birthday. We were about to leave on a long-standing family vacation when my Dad was told to remove “God Bless You” from his voice mail and email or he would be fired. These were both personal accounts and were protected under his company’s religious tolerance policies but someone was offended and complained. About my Dad, the man who collected cow dung for Hindu coworkers to use for havans and homams rituals. He told them that was fine, I’m pretty sure he even ended the phone call with God Bless You and we went on vacation. While out there, one person who didn’t know of our situation told us in a sermon, “if you’re going to talk the talk than you’d better walk the walk,” and another left the passage from Matthew 33:10 on our door. He knew he was doing the right thing, even if it meant losing his job. He had faith that God would take care of it all. These things work out, as they often do, with the big company finding out that my Dad had been contacted by a lawyer about the potential job loss. It was retracted, he was apologized to, and he stayed on there for another 5 years. All around the halls of his company, people put up symbols of their faiths, emboldened by my father’s win. I walked in a path of faith during that time, not fully understanding, but believing the way only a child can that it had to be okay. I came away from that time with an utter conviction that my faith was justified.
It was the summer of 2010, I had just turned 25 and had the world in my hands. On nothing but the promise of a man I’d known for 8 months (less at the time of some of the doings) I had quit my jobs and was in the process of moving to be with him. All around I was told of the mistake I was making. That I needed to have a ring on my finger before I uprooted my life, that I was going to get my heart broken. But I had faith. Complex faith, but still faith. I had my child-like faith, that believed this man when he promised his love to me. I had my justified faith, that told me that everything would turn out perfectly right. And it did.
My faith is like me. It is built upon every experience that I have had. I have faith in God. I have faith in people. I have faith in myself. The funny thing about faith is that it never quite stays the same, sometimes it may be this, but other times it may be something else altogether. But for me, it is always there, pulsing along as part of my lifeblood, changing, growing, journeying.