am I a person of faith?

So, today I was blog-surfing and I found this one: I found it quite enlightening, actually, and I find myself once again questioning whether I am a person of faith or whether I am simply having a crisis of faith. At one time, I was deeply entrenched in my home church (Lutheran, ELCA). I sang in the choir, babysat for my youth minister and choir director, and gave sermons on youth sunday that qualified as “liturgically correct and thought-provoking”. If I remember correctly, it was about the “faith the size of a mustard seed” passage, and my talk branched out into God’s challenge to us to have faith in ourselves – if only the size of a mustard seed. And I have to wonder if that’s really what that passage means. After all, if the spirit of Christian theology is grasped, at its core, then the spirit of God lives within us, and faith in ourselves is faith in God. But that might be blasphemy or just plain evil. My pastor at the time was an incredibly thoughtful man – very unlike the pastor the church has now. The new pastor seems to focus primarily on building membership in the church and sensationalizing the church experience. I’m not sure I’m quite down for that. Celebrating – sure. Sensationalizing? not so much. The last time I attended a service he led, I remember flashing back to my visit to a charismatic church in Asheville (The Rock), and how scary that experience was for me. Perhaps it is just the ideal of “church” that is burned onto my record.

In college, I spent years not attending a church at all, dabbling in pagan spirituality (which I have integrated nicely into my current faith, if I still have a current faith), until a synchronous pair of events happened. I was planning a talk about the Bible and LGBTQ people, and had invited the Presbyterian Campus Minister to give the talk. He was, at that time, an Associate Pastor at a Presbyterian church not far from campus. Steve and I had lunch one day, and we ended up talking a lot about my own faith journey, and how I missed singing in the church choir. And odd thing to miss, I realize, but sometimes church and singing in the choir are about fellowship. He invited me to join his church, and I respectfully declined. Not a week later, my geology professor  (my first or second major – I’m not sure which. I declared it first, but then fell in love with sociology) and i were talking about random things – and he invited me TO THE SAME CHURCH. He was in the choir there, which was then directed by an incredible musician. The choir had nearly 60 people in it, and was incredible! The current choir is not quite as large, but is directed by a former director of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus – also an incredible musician. I told Bill I would think about it.

Then one Sunday (about a month later, I guess), I decided why not? I was up early, still a little drunk from the Saturday night before, but I thought I would drag myself to church. I went – and loved it. So I kept going back, and eventually joined the choir at an open and affirming Presbyterian church. Then, life got busy, I stopped going. Right before I met my wife, I decided to re-join the choir, and sang dutifully for about 5 months until life got busy my 6th and final year of undergrad, and I once again stopped going.

The wife and I were married at Jubilee! community in downtown Asheville, where she had been a jubilant for several years before we met. It’s different, to say the least, and not what I am used to, but I enjoy it each time we go. We went this past Sunday because the in/out-laws were in town, and MomO likes church, in whatever form it comes, I think. So, I dragged my lazy self out of bed and sat through one more morning at Jubilee! I really did enjoy it, though. It’s not the same as when I was 16 and could participate in a Sunday service without cracking the LBW (Lutheran Book of Worship, for those of you not raised Lutheran), but it’s interesting. I remember singing John Lennon and Jimmy Clif during the service at Jubilee! Not your average hymns, but they’ll do, right?

And what I like most about Jubilee! is that the services always send a message of believing in yourself -and in your abilities to overcome obstacles. It reminds me much of the Black church that way, sometimes. And perhaps that is where my faith is lacking the most these days. I’m not sure what happened to my self-confidence, but it has faded somewhat. I think my debilitating fear that I have a terminal illness no one has detected has shortened my sight somewhat. Funny, actually, that I would choose the word “sight” because it’s my “sight” that is problematic, owing to pseudotumor cerebri. Honestly, you would think that after an MRI that cleared me of any tumors or clots in my head and a spinal tap that came back normally composed and with elevated pressure would convince me that the diagnosis was correct, but sometimes, I cry because I’m scared it will all end too soon.

And what scares me the most about not being able to answer the title question is that I think I want to have faith again. Earlier today I was having a crying episode – because I still haven’t rid myself of this ear infection (round 3 of antibiotics) and we were putting peroxide in my ears in case there was some fungus growing in my ear canal (even though I was diagnosed with otitis media by the NP) and it made me dizzy and nauseated. Well, of cousre it did – it threw my equilibrium completely out of whack since my middle ear is full of fluid right now, duh… but that’s not always how the thoughts come to me. I told the wife how I was feeling, and she said “You’re not dying, you’re going to get better, I know it.” And I asked her how she knew and she said, “Faith.” Plain and simple. “Faith.” She has that something I don’t right now – except that I have faith in her. Somehow, as long as she’s with me, I feel safe and secure. Even when things are at their worst. She held me up through the scary parts last fall with the diagnosis, and she holds me up even now. Of course, she would tell you and me that she’ll do anything for me, anytime, and I know it’s true. If I asked her to walk to California to bring me cheese from happy cows, she’d do it – no questions asked. And I suppose that means she has faith in me.

I guess the answer to the title question is: YES. I am a person of faith, but a person who has faith in other people. And, going back to my youth sunday sermon, if God lives within all of us, and within the earth, and I have faith in other people, then I have faith in God. Even if it’s as tiny as a mustard seed. Of course, there are caveats:

1. God is gender-less  & gender-whole.
2. God does not require ritual and/or sacrifice in return for hir love.
3. God will not punish me for saying FUCK – unless you can find a reference somewhere to the word “fuck” in Aramaic, then perhaps I’ll re-consider.


One Response to “am I a person of faith?”
  1. melanieross says:

    haha…i really enjoyed this post…thank u for sharing!
    very insightful!

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