27 THINGS I GUESS I KNOW // No 7: FAITH IS HARD (BUT I CAN DO HARD THINGS)

A friend and I were talking recently about religion and the culture of faith, and she said the most interesting thing. She said that she figured that committing to a religion is hard work, and that figuring that God is not real and that all religion is a farce is lazy. Lazy. Like it was an easy way out. I turned the sentiment over in my head a few times. I supposed she was right. Being religious is hard work! It takes a lot to commit your mind, heart and life to the idea that we are governed by higher laws, and accountable to a higher power than civility and earthly law. It’s a lifetime of schooling, an infinite amount of reading and studying and pondering. It’s doing things that defy logic sometimes. It’s learning to be OK with sometimes not finding the answers you want- or even answers at all. It means learning and mastering the principle of humility. I single out that particular attribute because in everything I learn about my religion, I’m constantly reminded how small I am within a vast and intricate and divine plan.

What I’m getting at, is that I’ve learned that religion is no light affair: true religion is hard work! The rest of the stuff we do in life- school, work, friendships- they are realms within which we learn to be the best men and women we can be. Religion is where we learn to be something more- we learn godly behaviour. That’s intense. It’s a culture of learning that you can’t really apply to manly vocation. I admire anyone who pursues religion and attempts to cultivate the ability to speak the language of faith: believing in things you can’t see or touch. Basing your life on feeling and sculpted intuition. That’s commitment. That’s dedication. That’s education. That’s hard work!

I think that a good religious person has questions. The more the merrier! My friend pointed out to me recently that there are two kinds of religious folk: those who have the innate ability to know, and those who have the ability to believe. Those who know are the lucky ones. Maybe they spoke this language in a previous life, maybe God gave them an easier ride. Who knows. Those others are given the ability to believe. Maybe they are the ones who understand hope and patience more. Maybe God gave them the easier ride. I’ve found that all questions in religion and faith boil down to one question. One question when you consider all of the other difficult, controversial, heart wrenching, uneasy questions that religion showers down on you: Is God real?  Either He is there or He is not. By the world’s standards, I know which sentiment is the easiest to believe. But if life were supposed to be easy, I’d have to ask myself (existentially, no doubt) “To what end?”

Most importantly, I’ve learned throughout my spiritual journey (that began in childhood) that I can do hard things. I know I can. Because I believe that God is real. If God is real, then He- all-powerful master of universes- created me, as small and insignificant as I feel. And if I believe that He is all-powerful, I know that He would not create me imperfectly. I believe that He has faith in ME. Ergo… I can do the most difficult things. Fun little circle we just went in there, hey?

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