Last week was a shitty week–I had hit an all time low. Every aspect of my life seemed like an epic fail and I felt hopeless, worthless and utterly alone. At times like these, I like to go to a Church or Temple and just sit and reflect. It is hard to have Faith in moments of crisis. I find that I get too depressed and too angry at the unfairness and struggles I’m dealing with to remember to have Faith at all. Rather than religious, I would say I am a spiritual person; but I really want to have Faith. Unconditional, strong, unrelenting, compassionate, confidant Faith.
I come from a family of Roman Catholic and Hindu religious beliefs and have grown up in both faiths. While I do believe in God, be it Jesus, Ganesha, Allah, Yaweh or Buddha, I am not a huge fan of organized religion and I rarely join in communal worship. Maybe that’s why I question my Faith a lot? I don’t know. I don’t have that strong, trusting, unwavering belief that others do, but I would like to have it because when I see people facing struggles, perhaps even worse than my own situation, and I see how they fall back on their Faith, it amazes me. During bad times, while my mind goes into hysterical over-drive thinking about worst case scenarios, deadlines, financial crises and blank futures, I see people stop, think and pray and gain strength, confidence and action from it. I asked my friend once, ‘Why are you not panicking? This is serious!’ and he said, “I am panicking and I am scared, but I am going to have Faith that God knows what is best for me. There is a reason I am going through this, and I will come out on the other side stronger, wiser, kinder and better for it. That’s why I’m praying”.
Over the years, I have battled with God, and I find that selfishly, I only resort to prayer when I need something. But this year, I decided that I am going to try and develop my Faith, regardless of my personal situation, because I want to believe in a higher goodness in this world; it’s a comfort and a strength and a communal compassion for others, allowing people the kindness, intelligence, strength and resilience to rise to any occasion and face and overcome obstacles, be it other peoples’s hardships or their own. I realized late that I want that Faith in my life. So I started going to a Church or Temple, not during public mass or times of worship, I don’t think I am ready for that yet, but when it’s empty and quiet. I take a pew and pick up my pen and my journal, pouring my heart out silently- writing, praying, listening and thinking. It’s a calming sort of process-unburdening your sorrows, expressing your thanks, crying, laughing (quietly!), pondering. And I feel better, stronger and more uplifted for it.
The other day, when I had hit my lowest point of despair, I went to Church in a hot mess. I had remembered my promise to have Faith and trust in God, but I was wavering big time, I was not feeling it, so I went in search of answers. I noticed one other person, a woman, sitting by herself at the far end of the Church, but no one else, so I did what I always did. I took a pew and poured out my heart and soul, writing furiously in my journal with tears pouring down my cheeks and snot dribbling down my nose, it was a pretty gruesome sight. I remember ending my prayer with this last thought. ” Help me. I don’t understand why I am going through this. What am I supposed to do? I am so lost. I don’t know what to do. I need Help”. Then I got up to light a candle and just as I was about to leave, the other woman asked me if I would pray with her. I said yes, as it would be very bad karma to refuse to pray with someone. So we prayed and as we sat down, she turned to me and she said “Thank you. I know things are hard for us right now, we both seem to be going through a rough time. But-HAVE FAITH. Trust that God knows what you are going through, there’s a reason-in your favour-for it and He is there every step of the way to guide you through this and help you. Have Faith.”
I was bowled over. Literally, my eyes popped out of my head. I stared at her, and her face was so calm and peaceful and strong, that I just burst into tears. Here I was crying in front of a perfect stranger, who had somehow answered the very question that I had put forth to God just two minutes ago! She hugged me and then we talked, and I told her, this was exactly what I had come for. To find a way to hold onto my Faith during these hard times. It was surreal.
Later, as I left the Church and drove off, I couldn’t help thinking-that was a sign. That was my answer right there. Have Faith. Things will be alright.
And it will. I still flounder, but then I think of Lee, the woman in the Church, and that moment, I remember that we are not alone. Help will always come. You just have to have Faith.
The above poem, Footprints, is one of my mother’s favourite poems. She used to recite it all the time when I was young, but I hadn’t looked at it in years, until the other day. So I thought I would share it, along with my little story, in the hope that it will bring some comfort to anyone who needs it.