God, please bless everyone around the world the way you have blessed me, if not more. Please let them all have long, wonderful, non-suffering lives. Unwinding my fingers, I flip over and lay still staring at the ceiling above my bed. Am I crazy? Did I just spend that last five minutes talking to myself? Was anyone listening?
I’ll just say it: I’ve got trust issues. Major. I keep secrets from everyone. I keep secrets from my closest friends. I keep secrets from my family. I keep secrets from myself. My mind was born to doubt.
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been an over-thinker, a skeptic. I tend to think the worst in people, even my friends. Maybe it’s because I’ve been let down so many times before.
I doubt people. I doubt their motives and promises. I doubt their friendship. I even doubt happiness-whether or not people truly feel it or whether they’re just faking. People often call me heartless because my mind works in such a no-nonsense and harsh-reality sort of way.
I guess that’s why I have a mental block against God.
It seems impossible for me to jump in and put all my trust in an all-powerful being I’ve never seen. I can only question the things I can’t prove; I don’t have faith. Along with the missing joint in my left hand it was something I was just born without. Faith is sacred, beautiful and scary. It takes courage to have faith. It isn’t something that can be proven, it just is. That’s why faith is special. The unique thing about it is that it’s not something that can be forced. Believe me, I’ve tried.
My family was never very religious. We’d drop by our church twice a year on Easter and Christmas–super original. Even as a little kid sitting in church, I was always doubting. I remember when I was five years old, I went to day-care at Old Mission Church. Each week we were taught a different lesson about good morals and how to help people in need.
One day we were brought into a classroom that was littered with twigs, sticks and leaves. The teacher sat at her desk and sadly told us how the wind had “blown everything through her window into the classroom.”
Like good little kids, we helped her clean the room, but as we were leaving I turned to her and, in a matter-of-fact tone, told her that adults weren’t supposed to lie and that I knew full-well that she had thrown the sticks around herself and that once we left she was just going to do it again for the other class. That went over well.
That was the attitude I took to church. I would listen, and I would doubt. I was too stubborn to just believe.
I went through a period where I felt empowered by my lack of faith. I felt like I was ahead of everyone else. It was as if I saw the world clearly and everyone else was living in the shadows. I thought that denying a god made me unique, and I enjoyed that. I liked feeling independent. I wanted to feel like I could do it on my own, and I didn’t need a god to fall back on. Then I went to Jesus Camp.
Crooked Creek Young Life Camp in Colorado, to be specific. I could rattle on forever in cheesy summer camp clichés about how that was the best week of my life, but that’s not what is important. I’ll be honest, I was looking forward to camp with the thought that all the experiences and activities would be great and I could just “suffer through” the religious stuff. But I didn’t. I ditched my ignorance and, finally, I listened with open ears.
I listened to peoples’ tragic stories and the ways they found strength in God. I listened to the voices of the camp as we belted the lyrics to Katy Perry’s Firework. I listened to my Young Life leader tell me that God is fighting for me. I listened to strangers call me a sister under God. I did not listen to my doubts.
Now, every Sunday, I stand in front of a community of people and sing with the Village Voices choir at Village Presbyterian. As I stare out at the hundreds of faces watching us – some recognizable, others strangers – I feel whole. Not because the spirit of God is filling me with peace and righteousness, but because I am looking into a mosaic of faces who all care about me as if I were their own, yet don’t know my name.
It’s a group of people who would never have been brought together under any other circumstances. People who are bound together under God as one family: a family that I am a part of.
I envy people who have faith. I’ve been working to fight my mental-block. I work at it every day. I don’t know if I will ever win the battle, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to have faith to be a child of God. I realize now that whether or not I believe in God’s existence doesn’t matter.
The community I am a part of is real. The people are real and the love is real. Their stories exist. Their prayers exist. Their faith exists. Their trust and love inspires me. For my faithless mind, I don’t find strength through a trust in God: I find it in the courage and love of those who do.
I may have been born to doubt, but the people around me have taught me to believe.