I’ve recently been on a path of faith renewal. I suppose it’s been growing stronger—this nagging need to return to some kind of faith—since I started my Master’s degree. Or, at least, reaffirm what was already there, just somewhat dormant.

I grew up in the Catholic faith—both my parents were born and raised Roman Catholics, so naturally, my sisters and I were, too. I had the classic Catholic education, and sometimes I found the religious lessons tedious, boring, mundane and repetitive.

What did the Old Testament have to do with my current state of being? Why did I have to believe that God was this all-powerful Father, when in fact, God could be Mother? And yet, I always circled back to the idea that God has a purpose for all of us, and God (be it He or She) doesn’t leave you alone.

Insurmountable mountains

As I made my way through university, I lost my ability to believe in God … in faith … when, at every turn, some new obstacle presented itself or some new personal injustice would befall a friend or my family.

In the last decade, I have experienced a lot. You name it, I’ve probably experienced some form of it. And through it all, I worked to maintain what thread of faith I had left.

This is no easy feat, when you are constantly asked to question why God or the fates (or whatever you believe in) would leave you alone to battle these insurmountable mountains with no one but yourself and nothing but your own wits.

I began spending money all the time (I still do it sometimes), began making choices I wouldn’t normally have made, and sought people and things to provide comfort in a way that my faith once had.

For a time, it worked, but I became exhausted and distrusting rather quickly. I grew tired of wondering who the true friend and confidant was, and I grew wary of trusting people, for fear I’d judge incorrectly and choose someone who personified temptation and a devil-like attitude (negative and possessive) that I strove so hard to avoid. I’ve come to realize that, how any of it happened was how it was meant to.

That’s a hard thing to swallow, knowing that God did it all for a reason. That everything that happens, good and bad, has a purpose. Sometimes it’s to better society, like when a natural disaster occurs, or some unfortunate yet preventable event that forces human nature to evaluate their own values or ideals.

Sometimes it’s to better one’s self, like when you lose your job, or you get sick only to learn that you need to change your thinking, your approach or your health regimen. But it’s always done to allow us to grow stronger as individuals and as a collective.

Enjoy the little moments

I’ve kind of been having a running hard time with my faith for the last decade. Since my grandmother’s dementia diagnosis in 2010 or 2011, it’s become increasingly difficult to understand why. Why her? Why our family? Why my Mom (who has to take care of her)?

I am still trying to come to grips with her failing health, her memory and her mortality, but I don’t push back at God like I once did. I don’t have the personal fights or screaming matches that reduce me to hot, angry tears anymore, because I’ve resolved to realize that this is our life. This is my normal now, and I need to embrace what gifts she has now and what time she has left to share with us.

I have the opportunity to enjoy the little moments when we sit and watch game shows, while she puzzles, or while we watch CNN as I tell her my worst fears or my deepest secrets—like that really cute guy I have a crush on whom I just have to meet, but have no idea how, or that really insane feeling I get when I’m frustrated at myself over the little things I can’t control. To enjoy the stories she has to share or the little drives we go on when we just enjoy nature and then stop for a coffee or some ice cream.

All these little things, I’m realizing, are little pockets of happiness, little moments of time when God has allowed us to share love and memories that I can store and reminisce about long after she leaves the physical world.

Although I’m slowly beginning to realize this, it’s a guttural feeling that you can really only rely on something like faith to carry you through the tough times and enlighten your best times. It means coming to terms with the idea that nothing but faith can be the best foundation for healing and growth, as well as for love and celebration.

It’s a tough pill to swallow when you’ve resigned yourself to the very idea that you’ve been forgotten, left behind, forced to fend for yourself. To realize that when I saw that one set of footprints, as a certain poem states so eloquently, it’s not I who walked the troubling places alone. I walked with my Creator carrying me, protecting me, guiding me.

Not a bad way to flip the narrative in your head. To go from the most pessimistic, cynical view to one of hope, positivity, and possibility. It’s enlightening, it’s uplifting.

I’ve slowly been finding my way back to faith. I think I believe in God; in what form, I’m still deciding. But I believe in something greater than myself. Something higher, loftier, more transcendent and of Grace than I can understand. Something that knows no bounds and seemingly has my best interests figured out. I suppose, in that respect, I’m just along for the ride.

Just being there is enough

I suppose that the feeling of just being there, just bearing witness to it all, is enough. I think that’s ultimately what faith is: Being able to let go of all your fears, anxieties and insecurities about life, and just live it. That’s the trickiest thing to wrap your head around, because it means forcing yourself to seek awareness beyond yourself and avoid questioning what can’t be answered.

I’ve had to come to terms with why God would allow such suffering and heartache when humanity experiences natural disasters, disease, cancer, war, gun violence, the suppression of democracy and whatever else shifts a peaceful society.

I have had to come to grips with that feeling of freefall, not knowing the answers to the great mysteries, but instead just valuing life for what it is.

I’ve had to come to terms with why God would allow such suffering and heartache when humanity experiences natural disasters, disease, cancer, war, gun violence, the suppression of democracy and whatever else shifts a peaceful society.

Every time, I’ve wondered how God could be so cruel. How could God, this ever-loving being, allow such pain and heartache to occur? It’s been hard to believe in faith when, every time you turn on the news, something mind-boggling crosses your screen or something heartbreaking gets reported on. But somehow, faith is the only real constant that allows you to survive and not grow cynical.

In that way, then, I suppose faith is a sort of incandescent thing to experience. It enlightens. It empowers. It evokes emotion and empathy. It ensures that we have something or someone to turn to.

Faith is an extremely powerful source for our personal and collective selves. With faith, we’re able to speak of what we need answers to and be heard, in a setting or conversation in which we can never be judged, but can find solace and peace.

I choose to have faith

I think I’m beginning to remember why I choose to have faith. I may not have the answers, nor do I choose to try to understand, but in light of all the heartache and turmoil—personal and societal—I’d like to think that faith has been my constant.

I may not have always felt like my faith was present, at the front of my mind, and I sometimes believe that my faith has been neglected in favour of more material awareness. But I’m slowly finding my faith again. And in that process, I’ve been finding myself.

Finding my faith has enabled me to be open to life and the experiences and opportunities I’ve recently gotten—my new job, my new volunteer opportunities and a life of happiness and confidence. I may have at one time forgotten my faith, but I’m happy to know that I’ve started to find it again. And that’s something to be ever-grateful for.

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