Monday, April 1, 2013

Faith and Feelings

Happy Easter! I come to the end of the day as I do every year: relieved, at peace, and full of amazement that I am sustained by God's grace.

This Lent was a challenge in ways I never expected. I've spent the entire season tending to my health, and the demands of recovery often caused serious distractions in my prayer life.

Now that I'm finally beginning to recover, I confess that part of me wants a second chance at Lent, another shot to "do it right."  At the same time, though, I was confident that there would still be lessons to learn.

The biggest lesson of all came during the Triduum this week.

Recently, during a discussion with my deacon's wife, I was asked to confront my feelings surrounding death and the afterlife. Both of these are difficult subjects for me — I've struggled with an intense fear of dying since I was very small, and the idea of an afterlife is perhaps the most trying on my faith. That conversation, coupled with my own contemplation in the following days, prompted a visit from my old friend Doubt.

But I've walked this road so many times that it almost doesn't hurt anymore. Almost.

At the Good Friday service, I found myself feeling desensitized by the Passion. It was all so long ago, and we are so far removed from it now. Can we trust what we've been told? Do I really believe all this?

I cried as we knelt for Communion. There are days when I feel like I have no faith, that I'm living a lie and shouldn't really be there at all if I don't feel it ring true in my soul.

But as I walked up to receive, it hit me.

I might not have warm fuzzies of belief in my heart or a bedrock certainty of God's existence, but I do have the desire to believe. I'm very far from perfect, but that's not going to stop me from showing up and living out my life trying to love like Jesus. God looks at our intentions, especially in our struggles.

Faith, like love, is a decision that we have to make every day. It's not the consolation. I was mistaking faith for feelings.

And I may not always have belief, but I've learned that I really do have faith, after all. That is something to rejoice in this Easter season.


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BG45 said...

Well said Missy. I think sometimes our friends in the Protestant world especially put so much emphasis on 'being on fire' and it makes those of us who aren't, feel lesser for it.