I thought I would write a little religion post today, realizing that I hadn’t posted on a religious topic since Christmas, so I’m past due.
In October of 1999, I had an incredible experience singing in my church’s semi-annual General Conference. I was part of a combined men’s chorus from BYU, singing in the Mormon Tabernacle for the final priesthood meeting which would ever be held there (the big conference center was just being finished). It was a great honor and opportunity. We sang this song:
(click on the grey Play button to start hearing the music)
The text from this song was taken from a passage in the Book of Mormon, where Nephi (a prophet) is sharing with the reader some of his darker, weaker moments where he felt like he was less than what he could or should be at that point. His feelings of doubt troubled him, as he turned to the Lord for comfort.
As he is pondering these feelings and expressing them to his God, he has a moment: an epiphany. He is energized, enlivened, and redetermined to move forward in the what he felt he was called to do. He says, “awake my soul!… rejoice my heart!”
I am now old enough that I’ve seen many friends and relatives come and go in their respective faiths and religions. It makes me wonder: what makes me choose to keep my faith as I do? How come I haven’t chosen a different route?
Recent conversations with friends and relatives have given me opportunities to reflect on some of the moments in my life which have led to my belief in Christianity. While I admit that the concept still doesn’t make sense to the purely logical part of my brain, it’s not something that I feel I have to either explain or justify, either. It’s something I have felt deep within my soul. Feeling what I have so deeply and recurringly has changed the way I look at the world.
Christianity, specifically the application of Christ’s sacrifice into my life, frees me. Not from being some crazy, terrible person, but it frees me from mediocrity. It expands me into a person I was not capable of becoming before. I’m not following my faith because of some deeply ingrained puritanical guilt, or religious programming, or some other environmental factor. I freely and intellectually choose to follow my faith because I find that I can become more with it than I am limited by it. It enlightens my very existence and illuminates every corner of my life. It makes me want to sing at a triple-fortissimo “Awake my soul!”
This basic faith has kept me in a church that, while not perfect (none are), facilitates my relationship with deity by asking that I become an active participant in my own salvation and in the salvation of others. Through both simple and complex theology and symbolism, my church helps me transcend my daily life and feel at home, at peace, and at rest.
My church asks a lot of me, but my faith is what actually requires it of me. I’ve had many opportunities in my life to choose whether I wanted to embrace and magnify this little kernel faith I’ve been given, or simply ignore it and going about my other business. Most times, I have chosen to stick with it.
My faith certainly isn’t perfect or complete. But for me, having dimmer, weaker areas in my faith actually makes the lighter ones appear even brighter. Faith and doubt can coexist alongside each other, and I have found that questioning and exploring both parts is what gives me the constant reaffirmation and crescendo to that small seed.
…And so I choose to be religious. I am not simply in the “faith of my fathers.” I am in my own faith, walking in my own path. And while I respect the legacy of faith I was left, I also assume the charge of carrying it forward for my own sake, and not solely for theirs.
I do love the Lord, and in him, my soul delights.
PS > Yes, that was me singing all the parts of that song. Now the world has heard my voice! Aggh! Sorry I went a little overboard on the consonants, I didn’t realize the mic was so sensitive.