There is a deeper knowledge than what can be seen and measured. Faith is a personal experience that can and should be shared. But it cannot be used to manipulate or be imposed on others. This is why we have the separation of church and state enshrined into our constitution. Faith cannot be legislated or litigated.
By its very definition, faith is not fact. For me, my faith in God is true and I will proclaim it from the housetops every chance I get. If, when I die, however, my life force simply dissipates into the space nearby and I vanish into oblivion, I’ll be okay with that too. Why? Because I dared to imagine something greater, even when there was no concrete proof to suggest the existence of multiple dimensions (many mansions), where our way will be guided by golden streaks of light (paved in gold) and we live in a perfect state of being with God, the Father, no longer separated from Him, or limited in any way by our corporeal bodies (heaven). I chose to believe. Why? Because I have another sense, other than the five senses we can measure, which tells me God is real. I feel His presence in my soul. I experience the glory of his handiwork in countless miracles, every day.
If proclaiming my belief that certain individuals in history, particularly Jesus Christ, had insight into the true realm beyond this life, makes me a delusional, I’m okay with that too. That is simply the nature of faith. Christianity is pure insanity to those who don’t believe it. But even a belief in random chaos and nothingness requires an act of faith, one I happen to find far less compelling. Both the atheist and the Christian believe in something which cannot be unequivocally proven. In both cases, their belief is more real than anything that can be seen or measured.
I’ve seen life leave the body at the moment of death. I have even experienced my own life force leave my body. Deep trauma can drive the soul out of the body. Psychologists call this dissociation. It took me years to really choose to return to my body, to trust myself again. Many who suffer abuse, never return. I know many people who are not present in their body. They have given up. They are the walking dead. More people than you can imagine are not really alive and present in their body. Their personality is filling the void for their true self, which for any number of reasons could not bear to remain. For further exploration of what I mean by this, I invite you to read my earlier blog, “The Chosen.”
I spent most of my adult life as a “non-believer.” Once I realized that my faith in reality was limited by my perception, I became open to other possibilities. Consider that the choice to believe, to commit to a belief, implies the possibility that the opposite of what you believe may be true. I consider it the ultimate crisis of faith when one’s adamant insistence in their own belief precludes another’s. Dogmatism, the desire to be right, is strictly the function of the ego. There is no such thing as faith or belief in the universal realm of space and time; there is only what is. Our ability or inability to comprehend it, is immaterial. We simply have no access to what’s on the other side of this life, other than what is revealed through this deeper sense called faith. Even the deepest scientific thinkers are smart enough to know there is no way to know with certainty what happens when we die, let alone when we live. There is no instrument or measure for knowing with absolute certainty because of our limited perceptions. So we use our faith, or lack of it, to fill in the missing pieces of reality we cannot bear to contemplate.
Some refer to this as our gut feeling that tells us we are connected to something greater than ourselves; it is a sense of oneness with the universe. Again, it is the ego that tells us we are alone and that everything is empty and meaningless. For me, I had to fully experience this empty and meaninglessness. I had to live in that complete isolation and alienation. I had to destroy everything; I almost didn’t survive. I had to “hit bottom,” as it were, before I could comprehend grace. Grace is simply the realization that I do not possess the ability to understand or fill the void of doubt, explain those missing pieces, on my own, even as it is human nature to try. Grace is simply the freedom to accept that I am loved by a higher power, that I am connected and loved by God. Grace is that sense of I am home, that I belong.
Once I realized it is empty and meaningless that it is empty and meaningless, I could choose to believe in a risen Christ and an incomprehensibly glorious existence, before, during and after this brief instant we call life. I feel I am connected to God and the universe in ways I cannot, stuck in my current form, possibly imagine. I cannot begin to express how peaceful it makes me feel to experience this connection. But interestingly, this feeling is less emotional than spiritual. And yet it is deeply satisfying. Why? Because believing my faith aligns me with my experience of the universe. It is thrilling and inspiring to feel this connection with the present. Incidentally, my faith was crucial for me to reconnect with my body and my Self. God’s promise that “the kingdom of God is at hand” is more about my present than an explanation of eternity or what may or may not have happened at the beginning or end of time. My faith has everything to do with the present. And it is this truth has set me free.