Last Sunday, the weather finally turned chilly in North Texas. I was so excited that sweater weather had arrived (at least for a few days), so I grabbed a pair of boots I hadn’t worn since winter. I gingerly reached into one of the boots because it seemed like something was inside it. I pulled out a bracelet that I hadn’t realized I was missing since I don’t wear as much jewelry in the summer. I was so excited to find the bracelet that had been hidden away. I immediately put the bracelet on and wore it to church. It is from the company Luca + Danni and has the word “Believe” stamped on it, but the word is jumbled, not linear as written words usually appear.
I loved the bracelet the first time I saw it because my journey with belief has not taken a linear path. Our belief in God does not steadily increase in predetermined increments over the course of our lives. Instead, our experiences with faith tend to ebb and flow. Sometimes, we feel grounded in our faith, sure in our convictions, certain that we know what we believe. We feel our faith growing stronger and deeper. We feel authentically connected with God through prayer and service.
At other times, though, we may feel completely lost. We may be confused about what we believe about specific matters of faith. We may feel that all our prayers fall flat and that we are disconnected from God. We may not know what we believe anymore. We may feel stuck in a desert place, tired and dried out. Life circumstances may become so trying that we wonder where God is.
Faith does not lend itself to being wrapped up in a neat and tidy bow. Belief can be scattered and messy. We often feel ashamed to admit that fact, assuming everyone else feels confident in their beliefs. And some folks do act like they’ve never had an ounce of doubt. But we can take comfort in knowing most of us have felt our belief slipping at times or felt our faith is hidden so far below the surface, we may never find it again.
Our belief in God can always expand and strengthen. There is always room for growth. Often, this happens by asking hard questions, exposing our misgivings, and stretching our understanding of God’s work in our lives and in the world. Engaging in those exercises will necessarily create some chaos in our beliefs. Perhaps a linear path in terms of what we believe wouldn’t work anyway because linear faith could be static and stale.
We can rest assured that we can bring our muddled beliefs to God seeking guidance about how to put our beliefs back together. Having faith that whenever our beliefs become scrambled, God is willing and able to help us find it again and again as long as it takes. Even if it takes a lifetime.