Given that I like to ponder, I looked ahead at the SJT list that Holly shared, and started jotting down some thoughts for the first few OLW.
This week’s OLW, I admit, has been more challenging than any of the others. Truthfully, I’m not sure that I’ve fully processed yet what I think I want to say, but as of this time and day, here’s what I’ve determined. Truthfully, too, of all the SJT posts I’ve written this one is the only one I am not “happy” with. Maybe because what I am about to share seems counter-intuitive or counter-expectation. Of course, (blind) Faith is an admirable, expected aspect of my spiritual (faith) journey!
…Or is it?
First, I needed to remove the parentheses in order to explore directly the idea of Blind Faith. I couldn’t—choose not to—reflect on the construct “(blind) Faith.” Was that construct made to elicit a likely or possible inference? (Do I think faith is necessarily understood as being blind?) Or was that construct communicating an implication (Of course, faith is understood to be blind). For purposes of this reflection, “Blind Faith” is the focus word for my reflection.
Once upon a time, I thought that Blind Faith was an ideal kind of faith. Blind faith as in the kind of faith that children display; the kind of faith, then, that Jesus presumably calls us to display, too. Or does He? Is blind faith implied or required to live Jesus’ imperative found in this quotation:
“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3).
At this moment, the older I get, I don’t think that blind faith is what I aspire to have. I don’t think that blind faith, as I am defining it in this reflection, is a necessary component of being child-like; thus, I don’t think that blind faith is what Jesus is seeking from me at this stage of my spiritual development/faith journey. After considerable reflection and soul-searching, here’s why.
Faith as I am defining it in this reflection denotes belief, specifically belief in God, reflected in a creed to which I profess belief, and at this stage of my life, I don’t want blind belief, the unknowing belief that I had as a child, when I believed what I was told to believe without knowing what the beliefs meant. Not that that kind of blind faith was a “bad” thing for me to have. No. Quite the contrary. I am very grateful that the grownups in my life transmitted a faith—a credo belief system–that gave me a foundation.
…In fact, I’m very glad that my parents did not do what a particular pair of neighbors did–despite the neighbors’ best intentions. They decided not to “impose” any religion on their children, saying that their children could investigate and explore religions as adults. Therefore, they did not introduce their children to any formal religion.
I remember the wonderful commentary I once heard a religious speaker give to that kind of well-meaning thinking. “Would you refuse to feed your child until they were old enough to decide what they would like to eat and could afford to buy their own food?” …I’m so very glad and grateful that I was not starved, but fed!
…Back to blind faith…Having blindly believed as a child, I blindly believed as an adult, too. And then as I came into contact with individuals with different beliefs or negative beliefs, I really couldn’t defend my faith, because I really did not know what I believed. Yes, I knew the words to the creed, but I didn’t know the truths behind the words. I needed to grow up, to be accountable for believing, for knowing what I believed.
That is not to say that I fully understand the mysteries of God inherent in the creed I profess each week. No. Faith would not be faith if all were understood. But the un-blind faith I am talking about is the adult faith that says, I assent. I willingly, knowingly profess belief, even taking into account areas of unknowing or understanding in terms of those beliefs. I have made a deliberate, conscious, knowing decision and commitment to believe in a set of expressed beliefs about God, others, and myself.
In that context, my eyes of faith are not blind, nor closed. My eyes are wide open, looking toward the eyes of my Triune God, and I am saying, “I believe. I don’t understand all, but I know what I am asked to believe about You and the tenets of my faith, and I willingly do so. Credo. I believe.”
And then I am closing my eyes, putting my hands into Theirs, and I am (to the best of my ability) blindly trusting in my Triune God. And at this stage of my life, it is the blind trust (which others might call “blind faith”) that is challenging–oh so very challenging for me!
Once, during our weekly Scripture-sharing lunch, a colleague shared a scenario-story from his minister, the response to which was intended to reveal our faith, hope, and love relationship with Jesus.
Play along, if you will. (This scenario was shared pre-cell phone, so calling for help is not an optional response to the dilemma.)
Imagine that you’re driving through a deserted area when your car gets a flat tire. Jesus is your passenger. What action do you expect Him to take?
a.) miraculously inflate the tire
b.) wait with you, alongside the road, until a passing car stops to help
c.) walk with you the miles it takes to find a gas station
That little scenario revealed a major flaw in my thought-relationship with Jesus.
For in my naivete, I didn’t like any of those answers. No. When traveling with Jesus, I didn’t expect to get a flat tire. And when I did, it set up into a number of questions. Doesn’t Jesus love me enough to keep something “bad” from happening to me? My trust in Him and my sense of His love for me was totally rattled. My faith wasn’t. I never questioned that Jesus had the Infinite Power to keep something “bad” from happening. I suppose some would call that “blind faith”; I prefer to call it “total faith” or “strong faith” or “unshakeable faith.” Always with eyes opened to conscious belief.
That scenario and the gentle, correcting feedback from the other members of the Scripture-sharing group when I confided my response, helped me to mature in faith. No more “blind faith,” if that’s what it is when one closes one’s eyes to human reality and expects Jesus to flex His Infinity. Not that I close my eyes and trust that with Jesus nothing “bad” will happen in the natural sense, but eyes fully open, with eyes on Him, knowing/believing His Word and His Promises that if I am doing my best to live according to His Holy Will, no matter what happens to me—no matter how apparently “bad” it is, He will turn it to good.
“Blind Faith”? No. I think that Jesus appreciates even more the open-eyed faith that has been tested, the faith that doesn’t go to Him eyes closed, but eyes open. The faith that recognizes and accepts that there will be persecutions. The faith that recognizes that what was done to the Him, the green, will be more done to us (Cf. Luke 23:31) …and goes to Him and follows Him—believes in Him, in His Holy Word, anyway.
The same person who shared the scenario that helped my faith mature, helped me again when I was struggling with whether to stay with the company or leave. I confided in him that I was afraid to make the wrong decision, and desperately wanted assurance to know proof-positive from God what to do. What my colleague believed about God–the truth about God– led to his being able to trust God. His faith-response, his belief in God as a Loving Father, gave me great hope. Faith and hope; they are inextricably connected, I think.
“If you pray and do your best, God will be there for you no matter what choice you make, when either choice is good. He is for you. He gives you the freedom to choose. He will not abandon you. Even if He would have preferred that you had made the other choice, He will honor your choice. He will not abandon you or punish you. Don’t worry. You can’t go wrong. If you stay or if you go, God will be with you.”
I needed to hear that, to believe that, to know that there is latitude, that there is not one and only one way of doing God’s Will. Believing in His Goodness, I didn’t need to close my eyes and do what was safest, apparently most pleasing; I could put my hand in the Hand of God and trust He would come or stay with me.
A version of “blind man’s buff” is a good faith-building exercise that catechists sometimes use; it has its place, but open-eyes, conscious, deliberate, putting one’s hand in the Lord’s for Him to lead and sometimes taking the first step in darkness trusting that unseen, He will be there is no longer blind faith to me, it’s closed-eyed (“blind”) confident, faith-tested, seasoned trust.
Absolute Faith; Steadfast Faith; Zaccheus Faith: Yes! Nevertheless, Blind Faith? I still can’t embrace that expression. I think that an adult faith is not static, since there is always more and deeper to know and therefore to believe about God, it is a living and growing/deepening faith to which I aspire.
Blind Faith in God–no. But please do help me with my closed-eyed, no-matter-what, unconditional (blind, if you will) TRUST in Him, born out of faith and love.
And sometimes, after moments of praise and thanksgiving, it’s good—Selah style, I’m beginning to think–to accompany the closed eyes with closed lips and open ears, waiting on the Lord.