I am going to get a brain tumor with all the phone calls I've been making. I guess that's the consequence of moving far, far away from your family and friends.
Le sigh. Bittersweet.
I might spend my whole life trying to learn how to live by this: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." -- Philippians 4:11
Written by a man who was in prison. Yeah, I could learn a thing or two from such an attitude. But something I have been learning and thinking about regarding faith is that you can't will yourself to adopt an attitude. You certainly can't adopt a feeling. You can change your actions to try and nudge your feelings from bad to better, such as my choice to go for a walk just now and to call my brother and his wife while I was out. But I don't feel 100 percent at peace right now, no.
You also can't adopt a belief just at any moment, in the sense that you can tell yourself you're going to believe something and then immediately believe it. You can choose the faith and beliefs that come with it that you are going to do your best to live by and at least try and believe in. You can't suddenly make yellow your favorite color if really your favorite color is green. I am of the camp, however, that believes that it's up to God what our favorite color, so to speak, our values, choices, beliefs, etc., should be, and He will make a way to get us there and it is our job to trust Him or at least try to trust Him. Or, just wait (while walking through life), hoping to feel that trust until suddenly we do feel that trust.
If you live by a certain faith, some days you are going to believe it fully. Some days you are going to feel that belief fully. But whether you're first coming to a particular faith, or have been in it for years, it's a struggle. Our emotions fluctuate and that reality makes trust and belief very difficult.
But that's what they say faith is for. You choose to do your best to believe in the teachings that you trust, or that you want to trust even when you're not sure that you do. People outside of a faith sometimes laugh at that, but to me I can't imagine abandonment of my faith as a solution. Weathering my way through doubt, fear, depression, not being entirely or at all sure of what it is I hope to believe in; it sometimes honestly feels like I spend a majority of my time doing that. Frustrating as hell.
But walking away? Absolutely not. Sometimes I walk through things, not experiencing feelings of trust, or peace, or calm, or happiness. In those times I may not be able to say with confidence that I believe specifically in something that might seem very out there, in things I can't explain. Sometimes it feels like my actions result in little to no change. That cliche of feeling like no one is listening to your prayers is cliche because it's a common feeling. Or wondering why you're praying about feeling confused and lacking in your faith while people are starving, abused, screwed up by drugs, more scared and alone than I can sometimes feel. Yeah, I feel it all, a lot.
But walking away would make me feel lost. Where would I go? It's better to worry and at least hope what I want to believe in is true than to just worry without holding onto anything.
Feeling badly at times is inevitable as humans. And believe me, folks, I feel badly a lot. I have plenty of moments where I'm fine, too. Confident, accomplished, happy, having fun. So I don't want you to get the idea that I'm always one way or the other. In fact for me one of my bigger fears is not knowing how I'll feel from day to day, because like I said feeling badly is inevitable, at some point or another. Some people are blessed to feel happy and calm almost all the time. Others are not.
Choosing to believe in something outside of ourselves can help. It helps me, anyway, and I do believe with certainty that it helps others. While I can't always feel things happening in my life, or can't bring myself to trust that things are working out for God's will, I have seen so many people changed by their faith in God, and in Jesus.
You may be reading this and it sounds totally foreign to you. Or it might sound completely familiar. I'm just glad you're reading it, to either find comfort in common ground or to learn of a perspective that so many people of faith have. Sometimes I think people think that people of faith are just arrogant, or kidding themselves. A lot of times we're just trying to be content whatever the circumstances, because a man who was once in prison found a way to do so. I don't know if Paul's faith was unwavering, but he certainly felt there was some reason to try and make it so.