Dear Paul

(The apostle Paul wrote many letters that are included in the Holy Bible. I’ve decided to write him back once in a while.”

Dear Paul,

I just realized last night that I have confused the words Belief and Faith for most of my adult life and this has caused some spiritual confusion in my life.

I had some help along the way acquiring these misinterpretations as my early religious teachers used the words interchangeably. If I did not believe in certain things, doctrines, events than I did not have faith in the bigger picture. Much of this had to do with the life of Jesus, but there was certainly many stories that were shared with other religious traditions. If I did not believe, I did not have faith and without the “faith” I was not a true member of the club.

Now the words seem so much different from one another. Belief feels more ego centered, intellectual in a non-logical sort of way in that it is part of a belief system. “I believe.”

Faith feels different to me. It is not anchored to the human mind. These two sentences now seem quite different to me: “I believe in you.” “I have faith in you.”  The I in the faith sentence seems much smaller to me. Faith seems far more mysterious, or mystical, to me.

When I was a young father, I used to see how far my children would jump from the edge of the bed into my arms. As they got older, and I increased the span, I noticed they seemed to go from having absolute faith in my ability to catch them to more of a decision-based, a more calculated approach to their belief in my catching abilities. Their original faith had no limits.

As I work through the changes in my own life, I find I am often engaged in conversations with others, especially my Christian friends, where they too seem to confuse the two words, belief and faith. I am not even certain beliefs are that important if one is full-of- faith, or as usually said – faithful. Faith is at a whole different level. Maybe that is what people are striving for when they say – what now is almost a cliche – “I am spiritual, but not religious.”

Where do I spend time thinking of such things? Usually it happens while I am watching two chickens free ranging about the yard and while the sheep, out in the back, are wandering with their heads down, nibbling their way through their day. It is quite contemplative actually.

I hope all is well with you. I still, read your letters. They confuse me sometimes, but I do appreciate your kindness in writing them.

With love,

Gary