Nothing inspires me to write like great music. Here’s an artist or tune that’s been tickling my ears lately and serving as one of my writing prompts.
Believe, believe, believe, believe
Believe, believe, believe, believe
Nobody knows for sure
These lyrics—from the track “Believe (Nobody Knows)” off My Morning Jacket’s latest album, “The Waterfall”—have remained firmly perched on my shoulder since I first heard them over a month ago. They bring a flood of thoughts to mind.
They take me to church.
They take me back to every Sunday School class I went to as a kid. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night service. Every youth group activity. Every revival meeting. They take me back to every moment I spent inside the doors of church as a child.
It was there I heard about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Where I met Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, David and Goliath, and Jonah and the whale. Where I learned about heaven, hell, and sin…about a cross, a grave, and a rolled back stone.
But it was also where I discovered a sense of pride that went along with learning about and knowing these things. An arrogant demeanor of having all the answers. Others were wrong, and only we were right. We’d read it right, said it right, understood it right. The work had already been done, so no reason to further wonder, ponder or question. Just open up, swallow as is, and smugly pray for those who hadn’t ingested the juice just yet.
And it was there where I inherited my parents’ faith. What they believed, I believed. What I was told to accept, I did. No questions asked. No issues raised. They passed their faith down to me, and I grasped onto it as if it were my own.
And that’s why the lyrics resonate with me so much. It may sound like heresy to my fellow churchgoing people for me to say this, but I agree with the sentiment of the lyrics. I agree that nobody really knows. That we’ll never fully know it all until our time here ends. And I believe we’ll be surprised then at the things we see. Despite all our reading, talking, hearing, and understanding here, there will just be some things that we got all right and some things we got all wrong. I know a lot of people. I know myself. And I can’t believe we’re capable of getting it all right.
But doubting humans’ finite abilities doesn’t mean doubting my own faith.
Three years ago I decided to toss aside the faith I’d inherited. I decided to strip it all the way down to the core. Turn it over, kick it around, kick it away, pull it back, and turn it around some more. And now, after all that, I finally know what I believe—where my faith really lies.
I believe there’s a God. I believe He’s got a son named Jesus. I believe sin came around and made it impossible to connect with God. I believe that Jesus died here to restore our connection with God. I believe He then came back to life and returned to heaven. I believe in the Holy Spirit, and I believe He’s with me all the time.
These are the tenets of my faith. I get that these things can seem ridiculous to my friends…heck, they can seem ridiculous for me to type right now. But it doesn’t really bother me when people don’t get these things about me. I’m not upset that they don’t think and believe the same way I do, and I hope I’m not arrogant in acting like I know it all with no uncertainty.
I’m a fool who’s just believing and hoping for the inconceivable to come true. And isn’t that what faith is anyway.