Updated: Nov 8, 2021
Everyone that has faith, of any kind, must have asked this question of themselves at one point or another. And by faith, I don't necessarily mean faith in a higher power or religion, but more a general kind of faith that life has meaning, it is meant to be good, it is just and, whatever problems we have today, will get better tomorrow.
Unless you have the kind of faith in life that is unwavering (and that is a rare kind of faith), at some point when the chips are down, and things seem bleak, when you have done all you can, followed the rules, been a good, kind person and yet nothing is going right, you ask yourself the question: is my faith being tested or am I just foolish?
Even people of religious or spiritual faith, those who live their lives guided by a higher power, have these kinds of moments. What if, they say, this faith stuff is a bunch of rubbish? What if there is no such thing as universal order or justice? What if everything is just random chaos?
And sometimes, it does seem as though no good deed goes unpunished, that your kindness is met with suspicion or, even worse, slander, that the cunning and the cut-throat win every battle that is worth winning, that maybe your faith and your morality is for a different type of world, a world that no longer exists, maybe a world that never existed.
I am not here to say to you that I can prove the existence of something greater than ourselves, or that it is wrong to have moments of faithlessness, or even that it is unjustified. Because for us to have these moments of a loss of hope is completely normal.
The world is far from perfect and it seems as though everyday we just seem to get more and more evidence to corroborate that fact. But I do think that whenever we have these moments, we must fight our way out of it, there is simply no other alternative. That is why constantly stoking the fires of your own inner hope is so vital and such an important skill.
A large life lesson comes from finding yourself at the edge of one of these pits of hopelessness and backing away from the edge. If you have lived past a certain age, you will most probably have found yourself at this point. Maybe you were one of the lucky ones and never fell completely in - but you circled the pit, you looked into it and saw the abyss. And maybe you had the foresight to back away from that edge, recollect yourself and find your faith again before you fell into that pit.
Maybe you didn't, and if you didn't, you don't need me to tell you what happens next.
Because when you lose hope completely, a downward spiral of negativity is almost certainly next. And like with everything else in life, if you can effect a prevention, then it is better than trying to find a cure.
A loss of hope and faith is a loss of light in our lives. Just like when there is a sudden electrical blackout, you find yourself unable to do anything meaningful. Basic survival becomes foremost on our mind. We go into the world as though we are living in an apocalypse and we must kill or be killed. There is no room in this darkness for joy, or growth or love. We are completely enveloped and ruled by the darkness. This is no way to live.
When you get to the point when you start questioning whether its worth doing anything to further your life's goals, when you start questioning whether it's even worth trying to be a good person, when you start thinking that maybe you will join the others who seems to be cutting corners and having all the benefits, then you need to re-commit to faith.
In the darkness of confusion, there is anarchy, without a North Star to guide you, there is a frightening loss of direction. That, to me, sounds worse than thinking myself foolish for having hope in the goodness of humanity and in a better day.
So, how do you find your way away from that edge? How do you re-find faith and hope when you seem to have exhausted every last drop of it in you?
First of all, you need to acknowledge where you are right now and know that this does not have to be a permanent state. You need to not give into that hopelessness. You need to remind yourself that the alternative to faith is fear. And fear is crippling. You need to mentally switch on the light again, through any means possible, even if it is lying to yourself that tomorrow will be better.
Secondly, you need to find something you believe in that is good. Whether you believe in your parents love for you or each other, your children's innocence, your belief in a certain artist or writer or figure of history or a belief in a philosophy. It doesn't have to be religion, although it might be. It just needs to be something, however small, that represents the potential for goodness. If it exists in one small corner of the universe, then there must be some hope it can grow in others.
Thirdly, you need to find something greater than yourself to invest in. A movement, a tribe, a cause, can give you something to fight for and live for. Causes, movements and purpose-driven tribes let us be part of change and, if you are suffering a loss of faith, it is because, on some level, you believe things need to change. So be part of that change. Be a part of that movement for a better, more just, more humane world. Be a part of creating more love, peace and hope in the world, rather than division and discord.
A loss of hope is the real pandemic of today. It is affecting so many people, even really young ones, with their whole lives ahead of them. And when this goes too far unchecked, it can lead to tragedy. So we need to educate and train ourselves in how to re-engage hope. And I think this is worth doing, because the alternative, trying to live without hope, is one of the most terrifying prospects possible.
Maybe my faith will pan out into a better reality, and maybe it won't, but, either way, I believe I am better off with faith.
In fact, I would go as far as to say, having faith is far from foolish, it is one of the most rational mindsets you can adopt for a healthy, productive life.
What do you think? Is having faith a sign of foolishness in today's world?
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