Faith is defined as belief without proof, and is most strongly associated with the belief in God and a particular religious following. To that end there are more faiths than many would like to acknowledge or accept. I live in a region where many assume the people around them are Christian. Once while on a plane the woman sitting beside me–who talked none stop from the moment we sat down til the moment we parted ways–said earnestly that she believed everyone was Christian, though they may not know it.
I think about that woman often. She was a white woman in her mid to late forties. She wore a cream pant suit with a red blouse, matching heels, a gold necklace and bracelet. Her white-blond hair was in an up-do. I know, it sounds too stereotypical to be true, but there you go. She really did embody the attitude of someone who has never truly known how the other half live, and spoke in that bubbly way that leads one to think that she was incredibly naive or that she may have been on Lithium.
At the time I simply nodded and made the occasional responsive noise to indicate that I was listening without revealing anything of my own thoughts or feelings. I am usually hesitant to speak of my faith, and do not generally volunteer much. I admit to carefully interacting with others so as not to prompt this particular topic, and have been purposely evasive with people I do not know well. I am not ashamed of my faith, nor do I fear being challenged. However, most people who challenge it are not interested in a true debate, seeking to understand that which I believe.
Sometimes I come across people like that woman, who don’t really care what I think or believe. They are content to prattle on about the world as they see it, which is made up of poor lost souls that must be prayed for and guided like little children who know no better. Then there are those who are so adamant in their beliefs that they must attempt to beat you down with their religious doctrine.
I have a very hard time with people who think of faith and religion as being the same thing. Faith is the belief. Religion is the construct, the system, the rules. Simply following religious rules is an empty gesture if they do not mean anything to you. That is merely conformity. Conformity is not faith.
I am not a blind follower of anything. I must feel and make sense of things for myself. I surrender my will to no one, and accept full responsibility for my actions. I do not control the world around me even though I recognize my power to influence and the role I play. I feel the power of the Divine in my life. I pray, I meditate, and I live. That is the basis of my faith.