As I look around at the political and social struggle around us, I'm reminded of my own struggle to find/reclaim faith in my life. As a lover of all things certain, I wanted faith to work like an epidural; to numb the pain of vulnerability. As it turned out, my faith ended up being more like a midwife - a nurturing partner who leans into the discomfort with me and whispers "push" and "breathe."
Faith didn't make my life less vulnerable or comfortable, it simply offered to travel with me through the uncertainty.
As I continue to study vulnerability and examine the intersection of vulnerability and faith, it's becoming increasingly clear to me that faith without vulnerability is extremism - it's using faith as a tool of certainty. Faith becomes bankrupt on its own terms.
I love this quote from theologian Richard Rohr:
“My scientist friends have come up with things like ‘principles of uncertainty’ and dark holes. They’re willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of ‘faith’! How strange that the very word ‘faith’ has come to mean its exact opposite.”
In The Gifts of Imperfection, I write about the men and women whose words inspired me on this journey. I'd like to share some of those today.
Anne Lamott's quote, "The opposite of faith in not doubt; but certainty" from Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.
When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd
Paulo Coelho's book, The Alchemist (which I'm re-reading with Ellen right now)
Richard Rohr's interview "Utterly Humbled by Mystery" from NPR's This I Believe.
Martin Buber's book, I and Thou.
I'm still on my spiritual adventure and some days are easier than others. I'm learning that laughter, creativity, music, and nature are all essential to my faith life. I'm learning that faith isn't separate from my belief in justice and inclusivity - it fuels it. I'm learning to experience God as something within me, not someone up in the clouds who resembles George Burns or one of those daunting pictures from the walls of my elementary school.
My faith is most alive when I'm willing to be vulnerable and open to connection - with myself, my family, my friends, and even with strangers. As Martin Buber wrote: “When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them."