Losing Faith

How do you hold on to faith when your world is falling apart? Know what I mean? When you are almost always pushed at that edge where you start questioning everything you’ve ever believed. How do you stop yourself from losing faith?

Kevin and I, did our schooling together while we attended same classes in ninth and tenth grade, we always spearheaded academic and curricular activities, whether it was the science club or the volleyball team or a debate meet or a skit performance. Over the years, we lost touch and happened to meet only recently when I learnt that he had left the country right after school. We agreed to meet over coffee one evening. An evening that will leave a lot to think about!

Meeting old friends after what seems like ages, unearthing the past is a usual affair. But filling the gaps, closing the distance is all well and good only as long as the talk is on pleasant grounds. And then there are those moments when you opt mute smiles. There are certain grounds where you reach a dead end even before you’ve reached the turn.

The conversation over coffee drifted to the past, from work to college to school, and from colleagues to friends to family. I was greatly delighted to learn the heights Kevin has scaled in all these years that he was away. He is not only employed with a reputed and an all-desired firm but has been equally successful in acuminating his talent in painting which was his hobby since before I’ve known him.

The casual talks led me to realize that he had not forgotten what I would otherwise term ‘little things’ and that he remembered my habits and interests with such definitude all too perfect to be true.

broken-faith_(2)(2)
Credit: Google Images

Surprisingly, touching over the surface of talks, I gathered he isn’t much of a religious person which I don’t know if he ever was. The fact that he is an agnostic did not disturb me as much as the fact that he is an acute atheist. That also was not the end of my disappointment. It was rather the manner in which he almost mocked about how I always was an ‘overly’ religious person. Right since those early school years. He jeered with utter travesty at the religious practices that I followed and was flippant enough in mentioning how he thought that my observing fasts was beyond a certain point of ridicule and proved only how much more weak it portrays us. Besides, there’s nothing ever like pleasing the Gods.

Slowly, the conversation ambled from one point of religion-mockery to another and I started to believe that it might never end.

You must be wondering why did not just cut him short if I am a person of God, why did I not argue and make him see how wrong he was, or why did I not just walk away?

But amidst the rather grim conversation, I had had a glimpse of something else. A lurking question that I needed an explanation for. Kevin’s words although coated with deepest contempt convinced me that there was an underlying reason. What I saw on the surface was only half the story. There was more than what met my eye. And only digging further into the ground he’d dug, I could find the answers. And I had to do it his own way. Not mine. Debate. Arguments. Convictions. Explanations wouldn’t help me. And pretty soon I discovered what it was that had made my dear friend so loathsome at even the mention of God.

Kevin had had a rather troubled upbringing as a child. With highly ambitious parents, none willing to sacrifice their ambitions or successful careers, Kevin grew up in the supervision of his sometimes present old grandma and an always present nanny.

He hardly ever saw his parents as they lived in separate towns, traveling the globe more than half the year, the percentage of their attendance in his life was much lower than the very many board meetings and presentations they attended. Finally, it reached a point when there wasn’t one day when he could see both of them together. Attending school plays and report days with his good old granny became a routine and gradually, the fading bonds between his parents resulted into a dissolved marriage. Today, while his father runs a successful business with wealthy clients overseas, his mother is the dean of a reputed university in another country.

Until that day, each living moment of his life was spent struggling to get his family back together. He frequented churches and prayed that they come back. It was neither the fortunes they were making nor their growing careers that stirred any interest in him. It was only the family he so wanted, the love he so missed that he had begged for on bent knees. He held onto his drifting faith that they will come back, that they will see how much he needs them. But he realized it was too late. That he was mistaken all these years. It was not their careers that were meddling with the family but the family meddling with their careers. This not only tore his family apart but shed to bits every tiny thread of faith he ever had.  It just became too easy for him to believe that what is not there cannot give you what you ever ask for.

Well, what could I have said that would have lessened his pain? Were there enough words to unburden his heart? Actions to restore the lost faith? I mean, you reach that point when you learn there is a lot of shit than what you see, shit that kills. Especially, when its killing people you deeply care about.
How do you keep yourself from losing faith then?

True, I got my beliefs. True, I got my faith. I also have my own share of challenges and disappointments which make me apprehensive. But had I been in Kevin’s shoes, after having fought with every ounce of my energy and hope left, and yet watching my world fall apart, would I be able to stick by my faith? Not sure!

-Asha

38 thoughts on “Losing Faith

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  1. We should never judge a person by his beliefs. There are certain grounds on which they are based. The grounds, we might have never been onto.
    This post of yours made me realize these lines.
    Even I was planning to write something on this. Not on being Atheist or something. But my above lines.

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  2. asha,what i felt is like this.
    Some believe,some don’t.Those who believe reinforce themselves in faith,they find peace that way.Those who don’t believe also reinforce themselves with inner sight,They also find peace.the toughest part is those who is in between this,they usually don’t find peace soon,they take too much time to find home in one of this,some don’t. Its all about finding,cultivating,sharing and inspiring peace,sad fact is that religions often fail to spread the message of peace.

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  3. Hi Asha! I resumed blogging after a big gap. Its good to see you again and still your writing style amazes my mind.
    For your friend I’d say his disbelief or faithless attitude towards god is quite genuine… Basically, as a simple human being, God to us is just like an emergency parent. So your friend had a strong hope from him but sadly his prayers were not accepted. They were genuine and equal for everyone. So he developed a sense of NOT Expecting from even The god. This is what he called atheist.
    I liked your strong faith on god which those analysis couldn’t shake. Impressed with you 🙂

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    1. Hey Rahul, Been so long. Where had you been to? Now that you’re back, I have to keep up with your posts.
      As for faith, I suppose, no matter what happens, we still cling to that little bit that’s left.
      Glad you’re back.

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  4. As ever you observe much and then write in a wonderful way that draws me in. Perhaps loss of faith is sometimes needed in order to learn a much deeper lesson about faith and at the same time allow people of faith to not become complacent in their own beliefs?

    It is fascinating to muse on…I am glad you dug around and analysed the root causes of his atheism as opposed to just dismissing the whole thing as many would. I am not sure at what point I would lose a faith had I had his upbringing.

    Sometimes meeting old friends is not always a happy reunion but I got to read a fascinating post so I think you made the right choice.

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    1. I like to dig around things that you’d rather keep inside, buried, that make you suffer. And why not? It provides me a reason to write. And of course, the lightness felt in the heart on letting things out, that slowly spreads to the face is always a pleasant sight.
      About faith? Its one area thinking about which still gives me minor headaches, if not for the world then definitely for my friend.

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      1. I love your perspective on life and things that people hide. You are right, writing is cathartic and allowing us to share in your thoughts and revelations puts a smile on my face too! You make me a happy Ste!

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  5. Maybe you can call it Faith, but maybe not. Yeah, this is life. All in all, I love your post rite now because gimme some reflection 🙂

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  6. Belief is not Faith. Faith also contains trust. The dissapointed do no trust very often.
    Everything said or thought is nothing but ‘opinion’. Our mental realms cannot know the vastness out there, the vastness out here, and in here. Mind puts a label and says: ‘God’ – ‘no God’.
    That label is empty. As empty as the labels atheism, agnosticism, christian, hindu, muslim, buddhist, …
    Apparently, he found a new system of belief. But it is just a system, like christianity is nothing but a system of belief. People change over the years. Like a missionary, he is now sharing his new found system with everyone who doesn’t want to hear it.
    Not to know, not to belief is opening to what really is. Beyond knowing there is no belief, there is no opinion, only respect for all and All, and most often there is Silence.

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    1. What a perfect derivation, my friend. I liked this particularly – Not to know, not to belief is opening to what really is. But does that not also mean protesting against something that might be? Something that doesn’t meet your eye for the blinds you’ve created yourself.

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      1. The blinds you create yourself are to be found in the mental realms of your mind. If you beyond knowing, you venture beyond the mental realms. Not unlike a rational mind that tries not to be influenced too much by emotions when going far beyond feelings.
        The mental realms comprise thought, opinion, concepts, memory, logic. Very useful in our daily world, but not very appropriate to discover anything beyond physics.
        Only the mental realms can protest against something in the past, in memory, something that has been labelled ‘painful’ or undesirable. The ‘not knowing’ is pure openness.
        When you are open, you easily feel love. When you close for the undesirable, love is diminished to an absolute minimum. The absense of love is felt as fear.
        The ‘beyond knowing’ I was talking about is being open to what is, it is going beyond the fear of the unknown. No mental system can ever go there. That’s why silence is required. Silence of thought and warnings not to go beyond the mentally created house of control.

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  7. God gave us free will and his parents made a choice. Unfortunately this choice also affected Kevin. When people are angry and hurting, it is easy to blame God. I know this sounds overly religious and i don’t mean it to, however when i am in a situation like that i ask God what i should say. Generally words come from me that are not my own and however i leave the conversation i know i did what God asked me too. That’s all you can do.
    We all go through hard times and our faith is tested. I used to constantly ask, “Why God? Why me?” however looking back i can see it ever so clearly why God allowed what he did. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! I see it now as he would of seen it then. Now instead of asking that of God, i ask for help to get through etc. I’m not saying I’m perfect because I’m not and i have my moments however i know there is a greater purpose!

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    1. Yes, that God has a purpose and a greater one at that, is the answer if only you remain patient enough to seek.
      I loved your thoughts and the fact that you mentioned them here, Laura. Take care.

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  8. It’s a little close-minded to assume that you know why a person does or does not have faith. After all, I live an awesome life, but I’m not religious because, in a nutshell, I don’t see any benefits in it.

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  9. That is a great question you ask right in the beginning.And in the concluding para you muse,
    “True, I got my beliefs. True, I got my faith.” So, what would you say your faith is built on? Is it your beliefs or something more intrinsic? How would you link your values to your faith? And as you anchor yourself more and more to your values and see that core expanding within your own consciousness, how do you see the world around you then?

    Shakti

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    1. Thats an interesting way to look at it. And no matter what grounds your faith is built on, there will still be times that you’ll question right the base of it. Your words have triggered a thought and I am still ruminating.

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  10. ”Since God has granted man freedom,He is not responsible for man’s crimes.”

    Though I’m an atheist myself,I can totally seize the logic in this statement.One cannot simply blame ‘God’ for others’ mistakes and expect ‘Him’ to change things.It is even more absurd if one changes his faith solely on the basis that ‘God’ didn’t answer his call.

    So in your case,little Kevin’s parents messed up and it is their fault alone if they were never there for their son.’God’ has nothing to do here.

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    1. Only if we were not let down by our expectations, would we stop to see things in light rather than cursing for darkness. Guess, it feels better to blame somebody for all the rejections and disappointments. And God is mighty merciful in shouldering all those blames. Does he complain? Not that I have heard of.
      Pleased to read your thoughts, I am. Have a wonderful day.

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  11. When there’s something that is happening in your life, that will be the day your going to ask about faith and God of all sort things. A big question that will mark in your head that goes, “WHY THIS IS HAPPENING TO ME!” A remarkable question that sometimes hit us hard if we dont keep ourself altogether. Thank you for sharing this Asha.

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  12. A lot of times we hope to change people around us to fit perfectly into our lives, whether family, or friends and sometimes we do not receive what we think we need in return from them. Everyone being unique have a different perspective. But what I find is its easier to change myself, improve myself and let my light shine, and maybe they might embrace me the way I had wanted them to do, because they would see something in me that would move them closer…and maybe its not me they really see, but from my humble change its the Christ in me, that brought about change in me and his spirit might also do the same for them if it embraces them bringing about a change. Asha, that’s what came to my mind, i do not know if it makes sense…hugs and blessings!

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    1. Little else could have resonated with my thoughts the way yours did, dear Wendell.
      ‘But what I find is its easier to change myself, improve myself and let my light shine, and maybe they might embrace me the way I had wanted them to do, because they would see something in me that would move them closer’, I am tempted to do that all the time. In fact, sometimes to an extent that I forget who I really am. And that’s exactly why this makes a lot of sense to me. One thing is for sure, each time, I am distracted to be for everybody, I am going to use your words here to be with myself.
      Have a blessed week.

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  13. What a powerful story. But you actually lived your faith in the process of just being with your friend and trying to understand him. You didn’t judge. You didn’t preach. You didn’t cajole or convince. And “sitting shiva” is sometimes more important to living a Christ-like life than anything else.

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      1. I am doing okay 😉 I have been reading here and there during the time I was migrating my WordPress site–it got hard though so I was missing in action for a while! Keep up the good work (and writing)!

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  14. This was such a nice poignant post. Yes, most successful people today chase their successes at the cost of their families, and relationships, don’t they…

    Like

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” ― James A. Michener

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