Why I Will March

I am not much of a fan for large gatherings. I do not trust the mob mentality. I hate porta-potties. I don’t like shouting or long periods of standing. I don’t own a “Nasty Woman” t-shirt or a pussy hat. I don’t like abortion. I have voted conservatively far more often than not. I consider myself a serious Christian in that I take my faith seriously, apply it to my life vigorously, and have devoted my life’s work to advancing faith holistically. I am a heterosexual, middle class, white woman. And on Saturday, I will go to Washington DC along with many others to march in the Women’s March on Washington while men and women all over the world will march too, in solidarity of one another, for one another.

I march because I believe in the dignity of all people. I march because I stand for the voices that are ignored, silenced, and trampled upon. I march because kindness matters. I march because my Christian faith compels me to. I march because I do not believe we should legislate a morality that conveniently fits us and ignores the reality others face. I march for my daughter, my son’s girlfriend, my niece, and all the other young women I know. I march for my friends who are gay, people of color, Muslim, transgender, refugees, immigrants.

I want them to know that I stand with them. I want them to know that it is not okay to be objectified. I want them to know that they are not disposable. I want them to know that our country is better with their being part of it and that their voices should be heard. I want them to know that while wealth might hold significant power, it is important to stand up and insist upon the dignity and respect for all because it is an essential part of our being human.

How easily we pick causes to be passionate about yet cost us very little. We hold our convictions with righteous indignation yet we live our lives relatively unchanged. As we point fingers we miss opportunities to listen, to be kind, to love, and to help. But convictions are meant to be transformative of the one who holds them, not accusatory of others. Some of the most passionate people I know are some of the most unloving people I know.

I am not a fan of pulling scripture out of its context and applying it to a current situation. That is lazy work, biblically speaking. But in my studies, there are a few passages that have a transcending quality. One of those is Galatians 5:22-24:

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

The description Paul, the author of this passage, gives is not about what a person does, but rather the way in which a person does it. I often use these words as a litmus test as I attempt to live out my convictions of faith. This process is what has helped convict me and transform me, when I have been willing. It is far easier to see another as the problem though, isn’t it?

I will march because I want us to do better in being respectful, kind, loving, accepting, and attentive. This is my way of contributing to that work. I expect God to be there and at work as well, in me and through that experience.

Suffering

There is so much suffering.

We don’t have to look far to find it, and we will find it all over the world.

One paradox of the Christian faith is that one finds his/her salvation in suffering. “Take up your cross” Jesus said. I never quite understood or liked this sentiment. I have witnessed too many people playing the martyr in efforts to live out this paradox – be a doormat; stay in a destructive relationship; alienate oneself from others; turn faith into war… I could go on and on. It is exhausting to watch people remain in a suffering state that is entirely of their own doing. And this dysfunction is what I used to equate with the Christian principle of picking up one’s cross.

I don’t think Jesus meant for his followers to choose suffering over healing. If we have a choice, is it even something we can call suffering?

Then today happened…

Today, I might be wrapping my head around what it means to take up my cross.

Today, I saw this:

A friend added these words:

Psalm 44: All day long my disgrace is before me. For our soul has been humiliated in the dust; our belly is pressed to the earth.

Pray and act for Syria.

My disgrace is before me…

My inaction is before me…

My looking away is before me, and it is my disgrace…

The picture is hard to look at, just like so many that have come before it. Syria has stayed on my radar, but more often on the periphery. Mostly because I do not know what to do. I hate how this situation is being handled (or not handled) by governments all over the world. I hate to consider the large scale of suffering. I hate to think about what life must be like for those trapped in this hell on earth.

Enough!

Today, I am picking up my cross.

Today, I am moving towards this monstrosity.

Today, I gave away a percentage of what we normally spend on Christmas gifts to organizations that are providing life-saving relief efforts.

But wait. A few less gifts under our tree? Is that really picking up my cross? It sounds fucking ridiculous as I write it. And yet, I don’t really know. It just might be the one step I need to take today. One step towards the suffering. I am going to keep asking. I am going to keep wrestling with what I can do. And not just for Aleppo.

I think we end up acting less because we fear we cannot do enough. We put down our crosses and ignore suffering because it becomes seemingly impossible to fix. But there is a cost when we do, and it just might be our salvation.

Maybe Jesus meant that picking up my cross is moving towards suffering. One step at a time, slowly – painfully slowly- moving towards the suffering. In this sense, the analogy resonates. It is a long and arduous journey that defies explanation. It is choosing to be burdened. This is what my journey will appear to be, to me at times and to most others indefinitely. People will not understand. It will feel and be difficult. And yet, God will become more real in the process. This is how I will know. My salvation will become more and more real, tangible, and practical as I carry my cross. God will become more real.

Let’s pause though, to address the need and value for self-care. If I am to walk towards suffering, I want to be able to walk that walk for as long as I am able. I must take care of myself. Self-care might seem trite in the wake of the suffering of others. But is it? Do we help others by denying our own needs? The passage that immediately follows the teaching of picking up ones cross is Jesus’ transfiguration. “If you are to follow me, take up your cross.” Then the text says in the next chapter that “Jesus was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” Suffering and beauty. This is what the text offers, back to back. The text itself seems to affirm a certain tension.

The tension is pursing both life’s difficulties and life’s joys. Taking up my cross isn’t about denying joy. I don’t have to choose one or the other. I move towards suffering. I move towards joy. The more I make peace with the presence of both, the deeper I am able to move towards both. So maybe, just maybe, my salvation is found in suffering. And maybe my salvation is also found in joy.

Today, I donated to four quality organizations that provide practical help to those suffering in Aleppo. I also purchased two tickets for an upcoming concert that my husband and I will attend in celebration of 27 years of marriage. While these two acts done hours apart feels strange, it also feels right. I sensed God’s presence in both acts. I pray that God will lead me towards more paradoxical situations like these.

There is so much suffering in the world. We don’t have to look hard to find it. Will you look away next time you see it? Or will you walk towards it?

May your path bring you both towards suffering and joy so that in that space, you will meet God.

 

I Choose

I choose love over hate.

I choose faith over fear.

I choose hope over despair.

I choose good over evil.

I choose joy over cynicism.

I choose to laugh and cry.

I choose to believe.

I choose to be inspired.

I choose to seek ways can make a difference.

I choose to stand up for those who cannot do so for themselves.

I choose prayer over gossip.

I choose reconciliation over division.

I choose gratitude over self-centeredness.

I choose peace.

I choose kindness.

I choose life.

May God help me to live my choices which often contradict my very nature.

Amen.

The Paradox of Unity and Justice

Last week, I posted “Trump or Love” believing that you cannot choose both.  I made the case that Trump’s rhetoric counters love. Jesus was for the poor, the marginalized, the weak and the oppressed. None of those descriptors fit Trump or the majority of his supporters. And it is often the marginalized, the weak, the outsider who is painted by Trump to be the enemy.

Last night, I was challenged to seek unity by avoiding what is divisive. It was a challenge for me because I have felt strongly of the need to speak out against Trump. Each divisive statement he has made that preys on the fears of Republicans at the expense of minority groups has increased my resolve to be clear about how dangerous Trump is. I know my opinions have made people uncomfortable as evidenced by the conversations and cold shoulders I have experienced as a result. Am I working against unity by speaking out for justice? This is the question that weighs heavily upon me now.

I am highly unhappy with politics in general. I think politics has gone the way of religion and education in our country – we are more concerned about protecting the systems we have than educating, inspiring, and empowering those we lead. The systems are antiquated and failing. I have friends and family who are wonderful teachers and pastors, but they operate in these systems that more often hold them back than help them move forward. I was a Bernie Sanders supporter because he was the only candidate asking inspiring and relevant questions. His movement reengaged me and many others across the political spectrum. Even though there was great disagreement on the answers Bernie gave, we engaged the questions as we considered what might be possible and practical for our future.

But here we are, many of us unhappy with the options for November’s presidential election. Is seeking unity in our unhappiness the best choice we’ve got? Or is there another point in which we can connect? How do we unify and seek justice? What if our definitions of justice differ? I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. What we need are people with different perspectives who are willing to respectfully engage the conversation in order to seek the solutions. I have increasingly little patience for one-sided thinking which appears to be more egocentric than helpful.

Maybe unity isn’t about getting along in spite of our differences, but engaging our differences with respect. What surprised me about my post on Trump wasn’t the level of engagement about Trump but a retaliation against Hillary. I don’t blame you. You felt hit by my post so you swung back. It is so hard to stay engaged when we passionately disagree.

I am also thinking about how unity for unity’s sake can be dangerous. Germany was unified as it exterminated millions of Jews. I want to seek ways to unify through respectful dialogue. And where unity impedes justice, I want to speak out. How do I value and practice both?

So many thoughts swirling in my head today…

Trump or Love? You Decide

Remember that good looking guy in high school who seemed to have everything going for him – cool car, star athlete, rich parents – and he also happened to be an asshole? At first, you look past it because he’s sooooooo cool and you really want to be friends. You tell yourself he is just having a bad day. Or maybe he’s got a lot on his mind. But after awhile you don’t care how cool he seems, you know he’s a jerk because he keeps acting like one. And yet he always manages to have his pick of girlfriends, a group of followers who loyally put up with his behavior, and adults who seem to be living vicariously through him. That’s what I’ve been continually reminded of with Trump’s presidential candidacy.

Trump seems to have the goods that have made a whole lot of people envious and willing to set aside convictions of faith and common sense. Too many of us seem to be that girlfriend of the jerk who thinks, “I know it’ll be different with me.” We are jumping in the sack with Trump, hoping that he will deliver all what he promised: love and respect. Or maybe it’s wealth and power.

I have friends who seem to live with a lot of fear lately. These friends are white, Christian, middle class, and working. I’m not quite sure WHAT they’re afraid of, but they are. In the past, I have seen Christians jump on plenty of bandwagons. But seeing them jump on one being driven by a bigoted, racist, sexist narcissist who owns a strip club defies explanation. The only conclusion I can make is that Christianity has moved very far away from the person of Jesus.

Jesus talked a lot about love. Love God, he said. And love your neighbor too. And later following the gospels in this little book called 1 John, the writer says this: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear… We love because God first loved us.” Trump fosters fear. Trump counters love. Trump is dangerous. Not only do I worry for the people he will target and exploit, I fear that he will do significant damage because of his lack of diplomacy and sound judgment. He has proven throughout his career that he will do whatever he wants for his gain at the expense of others. This is not simply an ideological difference. Trump is unfit to serve as president.

I can only hope Trump’s numbers continue to decline, and before long he’ll be like that fading high school star who still wears his old football jersey even though it is two sizes too small, while everyone else has moved on and built a life beyond high school. God help us if we don’t leave Trump behind.

Dear Coasting Christians

I realize there are many reasons you stay on the periphery of your faith community. You are burned out but don’t want to stop going completely. You try to be hopeful that maybe someday church will be relevant again. You keep your toe in the water where you are, while you periodically dip your toe into other pools nearby just in case the next one is a bit more to your liking. You stay because of your friends. You stay because you are members. You stay because that place has been part of your identity for so long that you decide it is better to be on its periphery than not there at all.

I understand these reasons because I have been where you are. I reached the point in my community of faith where it no longer stirred me or challenged me or inspired me, but I stayed anyway.

Eventually I did realize the need to move on. Staying, but only on the periphery, was giving me a false sense of engagement. While I might show up, I risked nothing. I offered little. I expected even less. I wasn’t really part of a faith community. I was merely pretending to be. And so I left and went to seminary because I knew what had led me to my church’s periphery is what I needed to better understand. My interest in God and faith hadn’t diminished. But the church where I attended, and many that were just like it, were increasingly unable to adequately and appropriately facilitate an exploration worthy of the 21st century.

The reason I write to you today is to let you know how much you are needed. There are many of us attempting to bring the church beyond it’s defined walls. It is in this space that so many wander. Paradox, honesty, complexity and wholeness dwell here in this space. But the space is not an easy one to navigate. It requires commitment and courage, companionship and endurance. We need you not because you have the answers but because you believe in the work to be done. You know that while faith can be difficult, it is also rewarding. We need you to be willing to be challenged and encouraged so that others who are just beginning to learn the value of community can be accompanied on this journey of faith. We need those of you who already believe in a God of grace to be bearers of that grace. We need you so that the church doesn’t merely survive but thrives. We need you. I need you.

And I think you need us too. I think your soul is tired of the periphery and hungers to reengage in a way that matters, that makes this world better, and you better too in the process.

Find a church – a community that will both love you and challenge you. Pick a place where you will give generously and maybe even sacrificially. We are meant to be in community with one another, and we need a community that will intentionally connect us with God too. It isn’t the savvy services, polished leaders or right programming that feed our souls. It is being known and loved, and doing the knowing and the loving of others. And once you find it, go for it.

With love,

Jen

A Warmongering Faith

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

This is the latest beatitude I have been studying for a series at my church. Peacemaking is the idea of standing in the gap between two sides, recognizing that the separation between the two sets of people isn’t good for any of the people. The peacemaker believes that by standing in the middle, one might have the ability to help build reconciliation.

The cornerstone of peacemaking is grounded in the belief that all people have value. Not to say that all opinions have equal or even any value. But the hope nonetheless is that despite the divided opinion, a connection can still be made through the humanity we all share. However, taking sides is much easier. And when you choose to not take a side, you often piss off both sides. In spite of the challenges and even the alienation, the peacemaker remains committed to reconciliation.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are children of God.

The benefit for those who dedicate themselves to peacemaking is being given a place of belonging. Children of God – is there a better family in which to call your own? Yet in the name of belonging, Christians put the cart before the horse by claiming the belonging without ever doing the work of peacemaking. The latest example is Starbucks’ holiday cup. Some Christians have waged war against the company for removing the sacred symbols of snowflakes. But look back and you will find plenty of other examples where Christians have waged war. Whether a concept, an organization, a corporation, legislation, presidential candidates, political convictions, money, physical appearance – I mean seriously, the list goes on and on. Christians are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

While I am all for living out one’s convictions, where did the notion of waging war become acceptable? What makes us Christians in this country think we are persecuted? You cannot claim persecution while being part of the majority. When did we as Christians lust for conflict? I believe this occurs when a religion and a political infrastructure become deeply intertwined, or in other words a theocracy is revered and pursued. Theocracy is the idea that a system of government is able to rule on behalf of God. Who do you know that could do that? Who would you trust to speak for God while having incredible resources at his or her disposal?

I’m pretty sure God is not American, nor has any interest in joining our team. And evidenced by our lack of peacemaking, I believe we as American Christians are way off track. We cannot claim to be God’s if we are not doing the work of peacemaking. We do not belong to God if we are not working towards reconciliation. That involves the reconciliation of all people. All people. Gay and straight, black and white, Christmas-loving and Christmas-hating, rich and poor, conservative and liberal, Muslim and atheist, and all the in-betweens.

As I have reflected on the consequences, a new study came to my attention. It found that children of both Christian and Muslim households are less kind and more punitive than children of non-religious households. Can we just sit with that for a minute? I won’t speak for the Muslim households, but I do feel compelled to comment as a Christian. While we wage war on all that offends us, we are raising offensive children. While we build a legacy that is largely based on what we don’t like, we leave little or no room for what we love. We are Christian warmongers, God help us.

Blessed are the peacemakers…

Killing God with Routine

A friend recently came across a study that showed routine significantly ages a person. The more one settles into routine, the less engaged the brain is. The less engaged the brain is, the slower the brain becomes. Sounds a lot like muscles. If you don’t use them, you lose them. The takeaway of the study was to continually seek ways to learn and grow. Step outside your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. These steps will help the brain not only stay engaged but continue to develop.

Religion is full of routine. We are told what to believe so we believe it. We are told what to do so we do it. We are told whom to love and whom to hate so we love and hate accordingly. This isn’t to say that routine is bad. Routine can provide an infrastructure to keep us plugged in. But when routine becomes the point, when we are no longer being challenged, when we can’t remember the last time our view of God changed, our faith has become solely routine.

The bible is full of movement. The movement is of God pursuing people, and people pursuing God. Sometimes movement is stillness. Sometimes movement is silence. Sometimes movement feels good. Sometimes movement hurts. But it is all movement nonetheless when it is about pursuing what is good, right, and true. The reason movement is critical to the process is because God cannot be contained in one mind, or in a set of creeds, or even in one religion. Truth is bigger than the construct of people because God is.

One can operate under the belief that it is up to him or her to make God real. Or one can operate under the belief that it is up to him or her to not get in God’s way. I used to fall in the first camp, believing I knew God well. But as I learned and listened and experienced more of God through my own pursuit and through the pursuits of others, my dogma became more of a rudder than my parameters. What I believe to be true helps me navigate, but it doesn’t prevent me from seeing God beyond what I think I know. In other words, I went from walking ahead of God to following God.

Yesterday I thought I was going to lose my dog. The belief could have caused me to act towards that end, bringing her to the vet to be euthanized. Or I could have ignored the possibility and just gone on with my day’s obligations. Instead I stayed home from work to be with her. I brought her water. I carried her outside to relieve herself. I laid next to her and shared my favorite memories with her. I wasn’t waiting for her to die. I just wanted to make sure that no matter what occurred, I was there by her side giving her whatever she needed. It was a difficult day but a good day. Thankfully she is still with us, lying by my side as I write.

When we think we know who or what God is, when we become stagnant in our pursuit of God and simply judge those who see God differently, we tend to act towards the outcome we expect. We might euthanize an opportunity prematurely, or miss the opportunity altogether. As a pastor of a church that values diversity of thought versus a shared statement of faith, I am sometimes questioned about my depth of faith. But as I journey with people, my experience continues to be seeing more of God and God at work among those who regularly step outside of their comfort, understanding, perspectives, than I do among those who have settled into a routine of faith. Maybe that will change when I get older.

An Easter Without a Resurrection

Easter was strange this year. The day arrived. Eggs had been decorated and baskets were filled. The sun was shining and dinner preparations had been made. Although resurrection is central to my theology, I didn’t feel much like celebrating. I saw the Facebook posts wishing folks a happy Easter and proclaiming the risen Christ. I thought I should acknowledge the day and so I stared at my screen trying to write a greeting of my own. After a few attempts, I gave up because nothing sounded right. I wished a few people happy Easter but mostly in response to having been wished one. Actually I think I said “hoppy Easter” more often because I could hardly get the word “happy” out. By mid-afternoon I concluded that I was just too tired. I spent my Easter feeling pretty empty and lethargic.

And then came Monday. I realized that it wasn’t life that had worn me out and ruined my Easter. It was Christians. It was Indiana and pizza shop owners and $840,000 and a whole lot of enthusiasm from Christians celebrating discrimination. But the discrimination didn’t stop there because there were also Christians who discriminated against the discriminating Christians. Everywhere I looked there were angry, pointing fingers, with most of them belonging to Christians. No wonder I didn’t feel much like proclaiming a resurrected Jesus because there didn’t seem to be much evidence of one.

And so I did what I always do when I feel like this. I unplug from the world as much as I can. I spend time in the sun if it’s out. I put my hands in the soil. I prepare and eat fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables. I spend time with those I love. I surround myself with life. I remind myself of what is true and real. Somehow the tactile experiences of nature, life, and love bring me back to a place of feeling centered and whole. I am reminded of what is real. And what is not. The empty rhetoric, though not gone, loosens its grip on me. I read poetry and stories that breathe life into me. I sing songs of praise and lament as a way to carry both the good and the bad. I reconnect with a faith that isn’t fueled by anger, entitlement, or selfishness. And I start to find myself again. I start to find my faith again. This year Easter came on a Monday.

Jesus was asked many questions. Whereas he often answered with confusing stories or a question in return, one question he answered with absolute clarity: What is the greatest commandment? To love God with all that you’ve got, and to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:28-31). This is important, critical, imperative – love God, love neighbor, love self. Fully. Wholly. Completely. This is not easy even with significant effort. If we are to make any progress on what Jesus calls the greatest commandment, we have got to think, breathe, live, and act in love. Sometimes love requires a tough call. However love never belittles, demeans, or diminishes.

The resurrection is meant to proclaim God’s love to and for all. Lately I have been hearing a lot more proclamations about self-preservation and entitlement than of God’s love. Maybe we have gotten so busy with our proclamations about God that we’ve forgotten to experience God. Maybe we have gotten so busy speaking for God, we have forgotten to listen to God. Maybe Easter was a reminder of how much we still need a resurrected Christ.

 

Assumptions, Hope, and “The Walking Dead”

I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead, a television show that follows a group of people living in a zombie apocalypse. It is fascinating to watch. All the assumptions have been taken away from these characters, and they are left with the task of figuring out what it means to be human without any social normatives. Who do you trust? How do you survive? How do you retain your humanity when “survival of the fittest” has become the new norm? The show does a great job of examining the different ways people navigate life under constant duress. I find myself wondering how I would do in this kind of situation. What would I do in the chaos? Would I be able to maintain my humanity? If so, how?

Thankfully we do not currently live in a zombie apocalypse. Instead we live with plenty of assumptions. You know the saying – assume makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”. And yet we all have them. Lots of them. It’s not that assumptions are inherently bad. But assumptions can prevent us from learning, growing, and moving forward. We assume that we know what is best. We assume that what we believe is true. We assume that we know people’s stories. We assume that our “normal” is everyone’s “normal”. We assume that what we want is what we should have. It is easy to spot someone else’s assumptions. But it takes a lot of work to discover your own assumptions. They are so ingrained into your thinking that they seem normal, right, and true.

My faith is full of assumptions. And I built my faith on many of these assumptions. For example, I assume that the bible teaches me about God, so I read it with the assumption that the bible is helpful and good. God has yet to confirm this with me directly, and yet I still utilize the bible as a resource for my faith. My assumptions didn’t come from out of thin air. They came about as I spent time reading the bible and learning what others had to say about it. But they were still assumptions. When I encounter someone who doesn’t view the bible in the same way, instead of seeing myself as “knowing” what that person hasn’t yet realized, I recognize that this person simply doesn’t hold the same assumptions that I do. If I focus on the assumption of what the bible is, I miss the opportunity to talk about what the bible has meant to me. And I miss the opportunity to learn what the other person thinks.

I think this is a critical point for a life of faith in the 21st century. We used to have the luxury in western civilization of believing that we were the epicenter of truth, that we had somehow uncovered the right questions to ask and reached the answers to those questions. We saw our responsibility then to share our knowledge with the rest of the world, or at least wait for everyone to catch up. But science, sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, and even religion are exposing that we, westerners, are shaped and impacted by our power structures and social normatives just like everyone else. We cannot be entirely objective. Our perspectives, beliefs, and convictions are all filled with assumptions. When we are not aware of them, we are prone to arrogance.

We are seeing a crisis of the Christian faith in the 21st century. Churches are closing. Society is changing. Morality is increasingly fluid. And truth seems to be relative. I talk with a lot of Christians who find these times to be scary and daunting. But I disagree. This an opportunity to shift one’s faith from a foundation of assumptions to a foundation of hope. We are invited to become less focused on what we think we know, and more in tune to what we hope for through faith. We recognize that to a large extent God is beyond all of our understanding and perhaps we might be able to learn from each other regardless of the assumptions we have. And whereas knowledge is limited, hope is immeasurable.

Think about the characters of The Walking Dead. They are struggling to stay safe, to find food and water, to learn a new way of living. They know virtually nothing. They are disconnected from everyone, except those they encounter along the way. They don’t know if they’ll live another day. They don’t know who to trust outside of their own group. Assumptions are exposed with every episode. What seems to keep the group going is not any knowledge that tomorrow will be better, but a hope that it might be. It is a tough fight to keep that hope, but without it they know they will never do more than just survive. And merely surviving, particularly as loved ones are lost and life gets harder, does not inspire the group onward. But hope does.

For those of us who profess some kind of faith, shouldn’t it be similar? Shouldn’t our faith exist for the purpose of bringing hope? Not to prove that we are right or better or “in” with God, but to offer hope for a better day, hope that God cares, hope that the sun will rise again? I have had many assumptions exposed, disproven, replaced by better assumptions. And if I continued to build my faith on any of these assumptions, I’m not sure if I would have much faith left. With hope as my reason for faith, I am compelled to carry on. I still have my assumptions and always will. But they fail me from time to time. With hope, I am able to face the dark days, the tough questions, the irreconcilable issues. With hope, I can leave behind fear and anxiety. With hope, I can find a reason to smile and laugh. With hope, faith matters.