Friday, July 29, 2005

In grief it is easy to read about how faith affected or effected many things. However, the word “faith” is used several ways, and they do not mean the same thing.

First, “faith” is used to describe hope or belief. When someone applies for a job and someone else says "I have faith you will get it" they are talking the first type of faith. Alma encourages people to have this kind of faith when they experiment upon the word, to just try to give it a place in their hearts.

Second, “faith” is used to describe the spiritual process by which one reaches through to the other side and connects with the power of God. It involves the first kind of faith, but it is something more (as there is a connection leading to the repeated comments that you can't have faith in things that are not true -- you can have type one faith but not type two faith in things that are not true).

Third, “faith” is used to describe experienced based understanding that does not rise to the level of knowledge. I.e. I have faith that the sun will rise in the morning or I have faith that my cat really loves me.

Finally, "faith" is used to describe the calm belief that results from the spiritual process of reaching through and connecting. It is the calm hope and peace that many in grief have following their prayers.

In understanding faith we need to realize that just as the Greeks had words for different kinds of love (such as erotic, friendly, parental, etc.) we need words for the different kinds of faith in order to understand faith better.

Also, it helps to understand that anger interferes with all kinds of faith. In my own life I've found that when I was angry the Spirit couldn't reach me. It came to me as we were studying in Sunday School today and the teacher remarked that Joseph Smith had the same experience of being unable to hear God when he was anger, and that it wasn't until he let go of his anger that he regained contact with God.

As Joseph put it in describing his experience "when the heart is sufficiently contrite, the voice of inspiration steals in and whispers."

I've had many issues as I have dealt with my losses (and seen many others with loss deal with their issues), and for a short time anger as a block to faith and to the whisperings of God was an issue for me. Then, when I was contrite, the Spirit began to whisper to me. I still had to rebuild myself, spiritually I was weakened from the experience, but but faith was there to restore me.

Paul warns against letting bitterness spring up, and I am certain that anger is a stem of bitterness, and one that harms our faith, in all the ways faith can be a part of our lives.


annegb said...

I have never thought of myself as a faithful person, I certainly have been angry a lot as I've felt the victim of God's unequal way of dealing with His children. I've asked, "do you ever feel like God has favorites, and you're not one of them?"

But from the time I was a small girl, living in a small Nevada "dirt" town, poor, dirty, hungry, and dealing with all the ramifications of an abusive alcoholic family, I believed in God. I didn't think He liked me much, but I knew there was something there.

So, any time things have been tough, and they often are--I've known there is more than this life. I've heard that faith is not knowing that God CAN, it is knowing that God WILL. I'm not quite there yet.

I was worrying about something the other day and realizing how often my mind goes directly to the possible tragedy that might happen. For me, reaching for faith would mean not automatically assuming the worst, giving God credit for wanting to give me "good gifts." That is difficult to do.

Stephen said...

Nicely said.

Sarebear said...

I am learning to have faith in myself, as I question, "How the heck can I handle all that has been handed to me this past year? How can the Lord think I can handle all this?"

I then answer myself with, "Well, he knows what you can handle better than you do. He has faith in you, and if you trust and believe in him, (which I do), then you can have faith, in his faith in you."

It is a process of learning to have faith in myself through my faith in the Lord.

This, after a lifetime of constant failures on my part, of my constant inadequacies and falling short of being able to cope with even the stresses and tasks necessary to keep a job. Believe me, I've tried.

I am 33, and after 15 years of being mis-diagnosed with depression, when it apparently was bipolar and 3 or more anxiety disorders for most of my life, and all the ways in which that creates an unfathomable self-loathing and extreme lack of faith in oneself and one's own abilities, the only place I can begin to have faith in myself, is with the Lord.

Experience has taught me that I can't have faith in myself, but I know the Lord has faith in me, and so I can start there, and in a way, learn faith in myself by taking hold of the Lord's faith in me as a starting point.

If it weren't for my faith in Heavenly Father, and the Savior, and for the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and my faith in those as well, I would have been lost, long ago.

So I guess, my life perhaps has been a testament to the power of faith, against overwhelming odds. At least, that's how it feels to me, and I only just realized that as I was typing out this comment. I can take strength from that, and gain even an increment more of faith in myself, from that realization.