Reflexive Belief

Foxfier - Reflexive Faith

Foxfier - Reflexive Faith

When it comes to how you feel, things are relative.

Are you having a good day?

Well, you can probably list a bunch of things that didn’t go right, but compared to most people in most times and places, the fact that you’ve got the resources to read this means that it wasn’t that bad. You have your basic needs, right now, and some to spare; you probably don’t have to look over your shoulder to make sure you won’t be killed for fun or profit, and so on, elaborating to the limits of your imagination or historical knowledge.

Your answer is going to depend on what most of your days are like, polite formulas or be reflexively positive. Most likely you won’t even think about the answer, since it’s usually a ritual rather than a literal request for information.

That automatic response can be a very helpful thing in day to day interactions with others, though it’s not sufficient to keep you going — it will just help you over the rough patches.

Same holds for your religious life.

Trusting in God doesn’t mean that things will always be exactly the way you want. (Alright, a bit of a strawman, I don’t know anybody who actually believes “I trust in God, so He’ll give me what I want.”  I was going to write “over the age of…” but I can’t think of any kids who really thought that either, lots who didn’t imagine the limits of what bad could happen, but that’s a totally different matter.)  Trusting in God doesn’t mean that things will always be good, or easy, or okay in the short term. Good heavens! Have you considered some of the ends that various saints came to? The Apostles themselves didn’t escape unharmed.

Sometimes, you just don’t feel the “trust.” Things go wrong — sometimes really wrong. You break a leg. Lose your job. Someone dies. That doesn’t mean you throw your hands up in the air, or it shouldn’t. You should keep going. Train yourself into the habit of trusting Him, even when you don’t “feel” it at the moment.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

This is one of those dangerous scriptures, not because of what it actually says, but because of what we can misread it to mean. There are so many things that we can mean when we say “love.” Sure, there’s the obvious “I love pizza” as opposed to “I love my husband.” Now, how about “I love my husband” as opposed to “I love my neighbor?” Or “I love my husband” as opposed to “I love myself?” (Don’t worry, I’m not going to go back into the language geeking thing. Even if I do still think it’s cool.) I’m just going to point out that it’s not very loving to go: “Hey, this is hard. I quit.”

Maybe marriage is a better perspective than manners.

You know a successful marriage from the inside?

I don’t (just) mean “are you in one.” I mean are you close enough to one that works to see what’s going on?

They’re not going to always be deliriously happy. Sometimes, they’ll even be down right cranky. (*Here, the author raises her hand.*)

Thing is, they don’t let “I’m grumpy” (or worse) utterly derail them doing what they’re supposed to do in the marriage. They’ll do what they’re supposed to do, be reflexively loving, keep the faith as a matter of reflex, and that momentum gets them past the gape. This doesn’t mean not looking around for causes, or communicating that there’s something wrong, or even looking around for some kind of help. It means that you don’t throw your hands up and quit while you’re doing that.

Same thing with faith. Did you know Mother Teresa had religious “dry spells” where she just wasn’t feeling Him there? For years. She not only didn’t stop believing and trusting in God, she was…well, Mother Teresa!  I’m not sure what her sense of humor was like, but that calls to mind the old prayer: “Lord, I know you will not give me more than I can handle, but must you have so much faith in me?”

I suspect we’ve all been there, for reasons big and small: “Lord, must you have so much faith in me?”

I don’t know about you, but the humor of it helps pull me out of those death-spiral funks.

Keep faith. Make it a habit. It really does help, and hey: a habit is hard to break.

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3 thoughts on “Reflexive Belief”

  1. Pingback: How the New Curia Is Taking Shape -

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