Living on faith

The only thing certain in life is death and even that comes at uncertain times. Good people die who shouldn’t and bad people seem to dodge the slings and arrows life constantly lobs at them.

Our families have suffered great losses during the past year. It began with Julie’s grandfather on Dec. 26, 2008. All of the holidays since rang hollow as members of our family glance uneasily at his empty chair at Mawmaw’s house.

Death rang again in September when our friend Donna lost her husband, her daughter, and her brother in a collision. And then, on Christmas Day 2009, my sister-in-law died in Birmingham, Ala., while on a solo road trip to Mississippi to see her best friend. We never know when our loved ones will be gone, or when we’ll be gone for that matter, so we must live for each other and we must have faith.

Faith. Five letters. Two vowels and three consonants. It’s a short syllable, but a difficult word to comprehend. The definition of faith that comes to my mind is to believe in something without evidence. Here is what the American Heritage Dictionary has to say:

  1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
  2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
  3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance
  4. In Christianity The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will
  5. The body of dogma of a religion
  6. A set of principles or beliefs.

Survey says I’m a winner with the #2 definition, but it’s really #4 I’m here to talk about today, First, Roget’s Thesaurus provides some alternatives:

  1. Absolute certainty in the trustworthiness of another: belief, confidence, dependence, reliance, trust. See belief
  2. Mental acceptance of the truth or actuality of something: belief, credence, credit. See opinion
  3. A system of religious belief: confession, creed, denomination, persuasion, religion, sect. See religion
  4. Those who accept and practice a particular religious belief: church, communion, denomination, persuasion, sect. See religion

Faith is something I have wrestled with since I started breaking away from the church in my teens. I only returned to the church in recent years and still struggle with faith today. I probably always will. It’s extremely difficult for my rational mind to make that irrational leap of faith, but that’s exactly what I need. It’s so difficult to let go of control, but that’s exactly what I should do.

Maybe it’s not so irrational.

We need to live for each other. We fight and whine and bicker about meaningless things. I listen to the kids snapping at each other and hear me and Julie lash at each other on bad days. Lately, in the wake of all of this death, I’ve thought how the survivors will feel when one of us is gone. What if the last words we share are shared in anger. What if a door slammed because someone refuses to stop singing or because we had pasta with red sauce instead of white is the last memory you hold of someone you love.

Instead of holding onto those foul memories, we should hold onto each other instead. Instead of criticizing others, we should ask “How can I help you?” We all know that we love each other, but we need to show that love instead of assuming it.

Our family suffered much loss in 2009—it just wasn’t a good year for us—and I am eager for 2010 to be better for our family. We’re not just tired of pain and loss, we’re weary. Waves of sadness have continually washed over our families and we hope death will take a vacation so we can regroup.

Last night, Julie and I shared our first evening of the Christmas holiday without any kids in the house. It gave both of us some much-needed time to reflect on the past year. I believe that time to stop and think laid a strong foundation for me and Julie to build on in 2010. I advise you to do the same.

Stop.

Think.

Julie and I are charting a course, making a plan, and pressing on, so here’s to overcoming loss, to finding new beginnings, and to a good 2010 for everyone.

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