However, I’ve come to realize that I have a faith gap. I do not believe in a benevolent universe. I find no comfort in trusting in God, Karma, or the Secret. Rather I believe the universe to be amoral, random, and thus merciless in what it tends to serve up to anyone. I’ve seen enough friends and family members go from a bad situation to worse, and while I can maybe spot a silver lining here and there, they are often meager consolation prizes for what once was.
Of course this doesn’t stop me from saying those same words when bad luck falls on my own friends and family. Perhaps there’s a part of me that hopes their faith still is strong. Because let’s face it that faith enables them to endure more and suffer less. It alleviates the worries of future uncertainties. Like the levitating powers of fairy dust, it works if you believe it – I just can’t bring myself to believe in it.
Despite my lack of faith, I find great wisdom in the serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, . Easy enough it would seem, but my faith gap is sometimes a roadblock to acceptance. Without trust that someone or something is taking care of things on my behalf, I’m left to game out all the worst-case scenarios – worrying about the future instead of accepting it as something beyond my control.
Where I do have faith, it’s in myself. To quote Nietzsche, “that which doesn’t destroy me, makes me stronger.” Whatever my circumstances, I still can make the best of it. Sometimes the only thing that I can change is myself, or my attitude. Isn’t that the secret to existential bliss? Or is that simply a delusion? Applying the serenity prayer seems to always be a work in progress.
I suppose I do have faith beyond myself – I tend to have faith in other people. I believe other people generally strive to do the right thing – to be “good.” Unfortunately that “good” can become ill defined in the most well intentioned of people. Still I do have faith that taken outside of their fears and prejudices most people will help others in need.
I think luck plays a greater role in our lives than we feel comfortable to acknowledge. In that respect I have already been extremely fortunate. Believe me, I’m well aware of my privilege. Just open any news feed (or history book) and I know at once how fortunate I am. The worst of my troubles are nothing in comparison, and yet I still can’t seem to take comfort in my privilege. Again, it seems a random quirk that could reset at any time.
I suppose this is where the leap of faith comes in. In the unknowable future of the unknowable universe anything is possible, accept this and put my best foot forward. Whether a benevolent force exists or not I will continue moving until I stop. Faith provides momentum.