Yesterday was a weird day. Ok. Allow me to rephrase. Yesterday was a weirder day than usual.
Firstly, I got about 3 hours sleep because my husband and I were awake and talking until 3 a.m. We were grappling with a difficult decision and 3 a.m. seemed as best a time as any to have this conversation. Yet, despite our efforts and lack of sleep, we still hadn't resolved anything by morning.
I dragged my ass out of bed, much earlier than I ever wanted to, but it was Saturday and on Saturday mornings, I dance. I dance to stay healthy. I dance because it keeps me sane. I danced as if my life depended on it!
At the end of the class, a woman who I'd seen before, but to whom I'd never spoken, walked up and introduced herself. She asked me my name and then held out her hand offering me a brightly colored wrist band. If you are unfamiliar, these are the popular, half inch wide rubber bands, with a word or slogan written on them. I just assumed that the wrist band said, "Zumba", since this was the class we'd just taken, but instead, it held a single word, "Faith".
On a good day, I usually avoid accepting something like this because what usually follows is an admonishment that if I don't accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior there will be a table in Hell with a place card bearing my name. I held my breath and awaited the sermon. "I just wanted to give these out", she said. "To those that might need them". Not at all what I expected! I welcomed both the words and the gift.
You see, as I drove to class this morning, still struggling with the wee morning hour's unresolved dilemma, I called upon those who guide me when I'm beginning to feel that I'm losing faith that the answer I seek will be found.
As a Christian, I'd been taught that if I prayed long and hard enough, God would intercede on my behalf and the only thing I needed to have was "faith". And so, during those times, I prayed just as I'd been taught and when that didn't happen, I pleaded, begged and whined.
What I learned however, was that faith alone wasn't always enough and when I questioned why, after putting my prayers in God's hands they still went unanswered, I was told that, "God works in mysterious ways".
:::Cue annoying buzzer sound:::
So, why do millions of Christians "keep the faith", despite numerous unanswered prayers, and I didn't? I believe the reason is that their faith comes from the acceptance that this is all part of "God's Will" and I just considered it false advertising!
You see, I grew up believing the stories of Christ's miracles...a virgin birth, arising from the dead, turning water into wine. So naturally, I had faith that my prayers, which obviously required a lot less effort than, ya know...walking on water, would be answered. When that didn't happen, I began to wonder who I needed to pray to get a refund!
While I can't really say that I've given the concept of "faith" much thought of late, I do believe my perception of the word has changed.
The Wiccan path is one of personal responsibility, so there really hasn't been a need for groveling and begging for Deity to intervene on my behalf. In fact, I've seen more evidence of the existence of the Gods in my life than I ever have before. I believe this comes from the realization that the Gods really don't owe me anything! I've learned that one has to be willing to work on mundane level to manifest their goals before they can expect the Gods to offer any assistance and even then, the choice to do so is there own.
So, does that mean I never ask for help from the Gods? I mean, they are Gods, isn't that why we worship them? Not so much.
My faith lies not in what the Gods are willing to do for me, but in the acceptance that at times they will help me to my feet and at others, will allow me to fall on my ass. After all, they are not the all loving, benevolent beings from my days as a Christian, but instead, have qualities that often mirror the many dark and light aspects of our own personalities. I have also come to understand that they will not venture into the realm of my own personal journey, if the difficulties I encounter, no matter how painful, will ultimately result in my gaining the wisdom and strength to face the next challenge. For this, I am grateful.
I believe that I have relationship with Deity that is based on honor, service and devotion and so I often see their presence in the "mysterious ways" that things have a way of working out just the way I need them to. I've also learned that the gifts of the Gods, while ever sweet, are indeed gifts and are not to be confused with obligation.
Perhaps...therein lies the mystery.
In Darkness, Light!