Am I In or Out?

English: Hilltown Presbyterian Church This Pre...
English: Hilltown Presbyterian Church This Presbyterian chapel was built in 1829 to house 400 people, using stones from the old Catholic Church on Bryansford Road. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have long pondered what is Faith?  I have come to the conclusion that Faith is the things I believe in.  Within those beliefs are doubts and I have had many doubts over the years.  Knowing there are doubts allows me room to explore and test them, that way I can be sure that they are my own beliefs or not and to cast those not making the standard aside.

My spiritual faith has been a long and sometimes bumpy road.  My first encounters of belief were with my parents.  They believed in God but had no formal church affiliation.  When I started school my mother felt that my brother and I should start exploring church and forming our faith.  We went to many different denominations (all protestant);  Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of God, Assemblies of God, you name it and we might have been there.  One Sunday after church my mother asked my brother and me about the church service we had attended.  I said that I wished there was more music, my brother said that there was too much music.  Music has always been an instrument for me to open my spirit and rise up to meaning in the words.

In my teens I joined a church, the Catholic Church.  It was filling my needs and guiding me through my journey until those doubts became a stumbling block for both my wife and I.  We loved the ritual, but the doctrine caused both of us doubts.  We questioned birth control, even though we were trying to have another child, we had decided that two children was a large enough family.  We had doubts about the ability of the priest to counsel couples that were having problems, not being married himself and the doctrine that women could not become priests.  We started doubting the infallibility of the Pope and the church.  After carefully weighing our concerns and examining our doubts we moved on to another church.

The Methodist and the Presbyterian Churches are very much alike; the main difference is how they govern themselves.  We found a home, first in the Methodist, then the Presbyterian Church.  I still have my doubts about the church, but they are less daunting than those in the Catholic Church.  I can talk with people within my church and discuss these doubts without feeling that I am pushing the bounds of those beliefs and being condemned for them.

I still have some very grave doubts or concerns about my church, they are good people.  They reach out and help those who are having medical issues or having financial or some social issue.  My doubt is how we are caring for those with behavioral illnesses.  When someone mentions that a friend or relative committed suicide, you see the head go down, hear the clucking of the tongue and the “What a shame”.  Or you see the fear spread over their face when mental illnesses are mentioned.  I have found it hard to relate and talk with them of the necessity not to fear but to embrace those who are suffering with these illnesses.

I have finally decided that you either accept the precepts that caused the doubts or you reject them and work to find another way to find the answers that make them comfortable within the framework of your faith.  You don’t have to bend your beliefs to fit your faith nor do you want to force your faith to accept beliefs you do not fully believe.