Lately, I have been trying to live on faith. And it is about to drive me crazy. Spirituality? No problem. That I can embrace. There is language and ritual to spirituality. There is community and communion within it. And spirituality, in some ways, seems like I am in control of it. I control how I acknowledge it, how I share it, how I practice it. But faith? Well, trying to live on faith even just a little bit asks me to go against everything I am. It is for me the ultimate loss of control.
Now, I am not a big risk taker. Some might say I am overly practical. Some might say I am overly controlling. Some might say I am a workaholic. Some might say I am high strung. Some might say I am pessimistic. And they would all be true. At times I am all of those things. So when it comes to trying to live on faith, I have to try to throw all of that out the window. Release myself of those chains. Control must leave. Worry must vacate my mind. To truly 'have faith' means I must let go. I must take the risk. Faith is not practical. And living in faith means giving up your control to God. And on most days that seems impossible for me to do.
I understand that letting go does not mean that I am not present. I understand that. I am very present. Living in faith, this action of letting go, takes a lot of work. So at least the workaholic in me gets a good workout. Because I am asking myself to undo everything I know and that is an enormous task. Trying to change my most instinctual desire to control—well, I am almost paralyzed by the enormity of trying to do it. But faith asks that of us. Demands that of us. Faith challenges us and ultimately brings us to a vulnerability of believing in ourselves, in others, and in our God. Which scares me to no end.
When I feel frustrated or terrified by a situation, when I truly know I have no control of the outcome, I discover that my last attempt to control comes through with my arrogance. Now, for a long time, I would call this strength, not arrogance. Tenacity, but not arrogance. But in all honesty, arrogance is my last-ditch effort. It is the audacity that I believe that my will is greater than God's. That I have ultimate control. That I have control of the traffic when I am late, or that if I am a good enough caretaker I can control whether a sick loved one gets well, or the outrageousness that without my controlling every detail, things will fall apart. But I have started to realize, it doesn't work. Sometimes yes, but mostly, no. And holding on that tightly to control without faith is exhausting.
As GLBT people we learn to be tough and to control. To control our feelings because we hid them for so long. Perhaps to control our appearance and to be seen how we view ourselves regardless of our gender. Taught ourselves to control our feelings and to be tough in the face of loss of friends and family. Learned that oftentimes we were alone in our 'otherness.' So we have not had the best training in becoming a community that lives on faith. Faith seems to be for those whose lives are easier or more 'normal.' So how do we change that?
Well there is not a magic answer. But here are small steps. For me, I am trying to sit in stillness and find power in that. See what it is I want, but know that I am not in control of all outcomes. Also, I am trying to release and avoid the urge to grab the reins of control during certain situations. And since that is still so hard to do for me, at the very least I can acknowledge my instinct to control. I recognize it now as a rejection of faith and of God. Which, when I put it that way, I know I am in a heap of trouble. So it gets me back on this course I am on. The ultimate strength I find is prayer. To ask for faith to come to me and to lead me through life, as opposed to trying to make my life happen just the way I want.
When living in faith, we still must work hard. We must fight for our equal rights. We must live our lives openly and honestly as GLBT men and women. But life can be so much easier if we learn to become a people of faith and trust. Our demand for control makes our lives out of control. Walking with God can give us peace and power. And by living with faith, we can change the world.