There was a time I needed faith. I needed to know that although I couldn’t see reason in the crappy things that happened, there must be some grand plan, some divine plot-line which required a certain chain of events to play out. I struggled though, as God seemed a selfish, petty and egotistical being, requiring suffering and worship without evidence, which made little sense considering he gave us our intelligence, and supposedly loved us.
As personal events played out in my life, leading to much self-reflection as I looked for fault in myself that must surely exist to warrant my punishment (in terms of whatever crisis of friendship, lost treasure or crushed aspiration I felt was punishment at the time), and greater events in the world caused me to question what entire populations could have done wrong to bring the ire of God upon them, my faith in the grand plan gave me hope.
As my personal belief system evolved over the next 25-30 years, I came to understand that there is no meaning to events – shit just happens. People do horrible things, and others are caught in the cross-fire. Natural disasters happen, and good people die. Business decisions don’t pan out, best-intentions can lead to misery, and no matter how good you are, how much you worship and pray, or how much you sacrifice, bad things will probably happen to you over the course of your life.
In this realisation came true freedom from the endless-loop of soul-searching and pointless self critique which had held me captive so long. No longer was it necessary to agonise over the meaning of painful, devastating or senseless events, because there wasn’t any. It wasn’t necessary to question God’s motives, His plan, because he and it weren’t there.
I was finally free to just be. Free to pursue happiness, and be the best parent and social citizen I can be, without questioning myself constantly. This has brought me more inner-peace than my faith ever did, as it wasn’t a struggle – I didn’t have to force it. It just comes naturally if you let it.
As my children embark on their own journeys of self discovery, I will make no secret of my beliefs. When they ask, as they have done, I tell them what I think, and why I think it. But I also stress that their beliefs are their own to build, and it’s entirely okay if they are different from my own. I tell them that self-critique is good, and leads to personal growth, but they should not dwell on looking for meaning in random events, or blame themselves for things outside of their control.
Once, faith was a way of dealing with the enigma of God’s will, but without the initial unlikely premise of God or his plan, it’s no longer necessary to cling to faith to cope with the apparent unfairness of it all – there’s no fair or unfair in a random universe. Just chance, and mankind’s will.