So it is now early into month 5 of “The Year of Having Faith.”
This morning I had a startling revelation.
I was contemplating one of my all-time favorite films, “Contact.”
In the film, Jodie Foster’s character, a brilliant agnostic scientist, challenges Matthew McConaughey’s character, a brilliant author and man of faith, to prove God exists.
He asks her, “Your father – did you love him?
She replies, “Yes – very much!”
He says, “Prove it.”
As I thought about that scene this morning, and how I might have responded if I had been standing in Jodie’s shoes, I realized the conversation between them could just as easily have been about faith.
Prove I love someone. Prove I have faith.
For that matter, prove I don’t have faith.
I can’t do either – not by a long shot.
So perhaps “having faith” is one of those aspects of being alive that just doesn’t fit into the realm of what is provable, measurable, quantifiable, tangible.
In 1992, prompted by the Dalai Lama himself, neuroscientist and researcher Richard Davidson gathered up a group of 8 willing Buddhist monks to measure brain changes during their meditation sessions.
What the brain scans revealed didn’t address faith directly, but did show it is potentially possible for an individual to train their brain towards greater adaptability, resilience, positivity and compassion.
Other studies that have tackled faith more directly have delivered results showing people who state they believe in God (which I would think is similar to stating that you have faith) live longer, heal from illness and injury faster, and struggle with depressive bouts for less time – to the point where the researchers concluded that losing faith is “bad for one’s health.”
With those kind of study results, I would be inclined to agree with the researchers.
But even with all that, I can’t say with any verifiable, provable, measurable, quantifiable certainty that I have faith.
I also can’t say that I don’t have faith.
Today, in this moment, I feel like I have some faith. That is all I can say. I don’t think it is “a lot,” whatever that would look like, but on many days I might assume it is “enough,” enough faith to be willing to tackle whatever challenges might await without feeling I am totally alone in doing so.
So that is my “year of having faith” update.
I am starting to think that, in this way, faith itself might be serving as a mentor to help me develop a closer, more trusting and friendly connection with that part of me that doesn’t know, cannot be sure, and yet continues forward with (dare I say it) some amount of “faith” as her sidekick and/or backup plan anyway.
In the meantime, I would love to hear any insights or thoughts you have! 🙂
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever tackled a resolution or intention to develop, build or grow your experience of having faith? If yes, what was that like for you? What helped you feel like you would be up to such a challenge? What pursuits helped you feel like you were making progress towards your goal?