Saturday, March 26, 2016

Faith: The Place of Mystery

I've been reading Brene brown's book "The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who you Think You're Supposed to be and Embrace who you Are".  Dr. Brown is a social worker and is a research professor at the University of Houston. This book focuses on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame, shared ten guideposts on the power of wholehearted living-a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness. I recommend this book to any who's felt down at any point in life. This passage on faith touched me and I hope you enjoy it as I did.

I've come to realize that faith and reason are not natural enemies. It's our human need for certainty and our need to "be right" that have pitted faith and reason against each other in an almost reckless way. We force ourselves to choose and defend one way of knowing the world at the expense of the other.

I understand that faith and reason can clash and create uncomfortable tensions-those tensions play out in my life, and I can feel them in my bones. But this work has forced me to see that it's our fear of the unknown and our fear of being wrong that create most of our conflict and anxiety. We need both faith and reason to make meaning in an uncertain world.

I can't tell you how many time I've heard the terms having faith and my faith in my interviews with men and women who are living the wholehearted journey. At first I thought that faith meant "there's a reason for everything". I personally struggled with that because I'm not comfortable with using God or faith or spirituality to explain tragedy. It actually feels like substituting certainty for faith when people say, "There's a reason for everything".

But I quickly learned from the interviews that faith meant something else to these people. Here's how I define faith based on the research interviews:

Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty. 

I also learned that it's not always the scientists who struggle with faith and the religious who fully embrace uncertainty. Many forms of fundamentalism and extremism are about choosing certainty over faith. 

I love this from theologian Richard Rohr: "My scientist friends have come up with the things like 'principles of uncertainty' and dark holes. They're willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of 'faith'! How strange that the very word 'faith' has come to means its exact opposite". 

Faith is essential when we decide to live and love with our whole hearts in a world where most of us want assurances before we risk being vulnerable and getting hurt. To say, "I'm going to engage wholeheartedly in my life" requires believing without seeing. 

Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who you Think You're Supposed to be and Embrace who you Are. Pages 90-91.  


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