Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Faith Matters


A good friend and I had a long drive through the city today and we inevitably talked most of the mileage away. I noticed that every time we do get to spend time while cruising, we end up talking about stuff usually reserved for sessions with professional shrinks. Our favorite topics revolve around: 1) our current quarter-life crisis, 2) politics (mostly his since I am strangely stupid about politics), 3) our wacko friends, or 4) our faith.

Today it was numbers 1, 3 and 4. It started with him complaining about how he’s starting to feel the heat about his current state of datelessness. His friends, as it turns out, are almost all dating somebody and he’s quickly losing people to call for instant gimmicks (ah, the fate of the last single kabarkada). I told him I don’t get dating --- all that testing the waters thing. He said he agrees, but for the Chinese, he said it’s an almost science (my internal data bank reminded me of the Disney movie Mulan and her parents matchmaking shenanigans and I knew he was right). He’s oddly stuck on Chinese girls, or at least chinita-looking girls. I have a theory why, but that’s another story. Anyway, he’s had troubles before hooking up with a Chinay, and we both suppose he’d still have trouble now. Which led us to talk about our salaries (since its digits seems to be one of the criteria for dating within the fil-chi culture), dismally low as they are. Which in turn led us to discussing our friends, and their astronomical wages (at least compared to ours). I tried to console him by saying that I believe we know the weight of our money’s worth because we have to prioritize more. And given our responsibilities, I told him I take pride in how much it feels like it’s a sacrifice to adhere to our financial duties to our families. I admitted it makes me feel selfless to be so poor, since shoes and gadgets are beyond my reach. Hehe, if you know what I mean, then you’re also underpaid. Welcome to my world.

Then somehow we struck a discussion on faith, with him waxing poetic about missing his weekly prayer sessions (he’s a devout CLC) and me missing a facsimile of a real prayer life. I feel so illiterate compared to his point of view on faith. I mean, I thought I asked a lot of questions, but as it turns out, I might not have asked the right ones. I think I have always been afraid to challenge my faith --- I usually revert to my comfort zone everytime I felt my soul was on the verge of damnation. But his coming from a Jesuit university has helped him analyze his faith. When I asked him if he ever wondered if God was an invention, his answer was that God is probably a necessity for goodness. He shared that he once thought an atheist doing good things is better than a believer who does not. But he realized that once you stop believing in God, the line between good and evil blurs as well. Since his end goal is to do good things, and his belief in God helps him do it, then it’s a done deal.

Yes, it is intellectualizing faith. And I don’t know if it’s bad that I don’t think of my faith that way. For me, it has always been instinct-driven --- God feels right and doing good things bring me closer to Him. I want to please Him. It’s kind of childish, really. I just trust. I just believe because I have a feeling that it’ll be unfortunate if I don’t. I haven’t dwelt much on how or why, I just accepted the possibility that my soul will be worse for wear because of it. When it comes to my faith, I have used my intuition as a guide. I want to keep it simple, because I found that sincerity is in simplicity. Based on experience, I now know that there’ll be days when all I have ever believed will be shattered again and my carefully reinforced constructs about religion will come crashing about me. The first time it happened, I was robbed of my wits, but my soul led the way.

But as I have always believed, faith is a personal experience. His understanding of his faith in relation to himself strengthens my friend. Me, I’ll just keep trying to trust and believe, albeit my vision isn’t exactly 20/20.

Illiterate in faith as I may feel, it doesn’t feel that way when I’m talking to my Father. I think in the end, that’s all that matters.

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Inspiring thought for the week:

God gives us the opportunity to better ourselves.

When we ask to be brave, God doesn’t make us brave by magic. He gives us an opportunity to be brave. When we ask for strength, God gives us a chance to prove our strength. When we ask to be happy or closer as a family, He doesn’t give us warm, fuzzy feelings --- He gives us an opportunity to be happy or ways to become closer to our family.

Amazingly, I got this from the movie Evan Almighty. It’s not the exact words, but I think the thought is the same.

Nice, right?

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