Sunday, 27 March 2016

I'm Agnostic, But I Still Have Faith...

Faith Hill joke, because HAHAHAHA, hilarious.

So, picture the scene:  I'm sitting here, with an Oreo Easter egg by my side, which I'm preparing to stick my face into, when I stumble upon a series of comments on social media that caused me to have one of those "I AM GOING TO HAVE TO BLOG ABOUT THIS" moments.

It's Easter Sunday and, understandably, many people are talking about their Christian faith, today.  I completely respect that; it's an important day in the Christian calendar and everyone should have a space to discuss their religious beliefs - that's just a part of freedom of speech and it's vital we hold onto it.  

Anyway, I was all prepared to carry on scrolling, like a happy little (Easter) bunny, until I saw a comment that included the word "faithless"and it niggled at me like a stone in my shoe, just big enough to be uncomfortable.  This person was referring to non-religious people as being "faithless" (and also to religious people who choose to live by their own rules, rather than following God's, but that's a whole other blog post in itself...) and the use of that word annoyed me, even though I knew that they were specifically referring to a lack of religious faith, rather than a lack of faith in general.

"Faith" is a word that we often apply to religion, with good reason.  But it has more than one meaning.  I am agnostic - I don't know whether God exists, or whether there's an afterlife or anything like that, but I'm not prepared to entirely rule it out, by referring to myself as an atheist.  I believe that a guy named Jesus existed and I think he probably tried to teach some good stuff in his time, but whether or not he was the son of God is another matter entirely.  So, I call myself an agnostic.  What I do not call myself, is "faithless."

"Faithless" joke, because HAHAHAHA, hilarious.

I may not have faith in the classic, religious sense.  But I have faith, all the same.  To me, "faith" means putting your trust in something and that doesn't have to refer to a Deity of any kind.  I know other agnostics - and atheists - who are equally strong in their alternative faiths.  I also know a lot of wonderful religious folk who would never dream of assuming that just because people like me don't necessarily have faith in God,that it therefore means that we don't have faith in anything.

But that one comment caused an uncomfortable itch that just had to be scratched.  Because the sad fact is that there will always be some people who believe that religious faith is the only kind worth having, just as there will always be atheists who believe that religious faith is utter lunacy and who treat believers with contempt as a result.  Neither is helpful.  People are free to believe or disbelieve as they choose.  I choose to sit on the religious fence (again, I could write a whole other blog about what my beliefs are...), but that doesn't mean that my life is devoid of any faith, whatsoever.

So, in the spirit of today - a day in which light triumphs over darkness and hope reigns supreme, let me answer that stranger who referred to non-religious people as "faithless," by telling you some of the things I have faith in...

I have faith in love - in all its many forms.

Yes, I'm single.  Yes, my last relationship was abusive.  But yes, I believe in love and I always will.  Love has an incredible power to heal and strengthen us.  Just a hug from a friend can make the world a brighter place.  An act of kindness by a family member can remind us that we're not going through life completely alone.  Love can make us bolder, braver and better as people, when we choose to show it, rather than keeping it to ourselves.  Love, in a world where people hurt one another, where wars rage and where sometimes hope seems in low supply, can be a beacon of light, bursting through the dark.  I believe in giving love to those around us, accepting the love that exists in our lives - in whatever form it takes - and cherishing that love above all else.  My faith in love will never die, because love itself never does.  Relationships may fail and friendships may falter, but love on a grander scale will exist eternally.  In the words of Marvin Gaye,"only love can conquer hate."  It's still true.  It will always be true.

I have faith in people.

They say that people will always let you down, but people are capable of greatness.  For every time a person commits an atrocity, you need only look to the other, better people, reacting to that atrocity by seeing what they can do to help.  There are good people in this world; people who dedicate their lives to making things better for others.  People who campaign, people who stand up against hate and people who make the world a brighter place, just by being themselves.  Despite the many times I say "ugh, I hate people" (and sadly, it is a common phrase...), I still believe in humanity.  I believe that together, people are stronger and that when we join forces to create a community against evil, we prove that humanity is worth keeping faith in.

On a smaller, more personal scale, I believe in the people around me.  I mentioned before that I have faith in love and that's in no small part due to the people who show me it, every single day.  My family and my closest friends will always help me when I need it.  They will always encourage me and want to share in the good things that happen in my life, as well as support me through the bad times.  I mean, really, they actually know me, warts and all, and they still want me around - if that's not worth having faith in, nothing is.

I have faith in the people I choose to keep closest to me, because they've proved themselves time and again to be worth that faith.  I just hope they have as much faith in me and that I always prove that faith justified.

I have faith in following a dream.

You have to have faith in your dreams and aspirations.  If you don't, how are you supposed to chase them?  That was kind of an unintentional poem - feel free to put it on a t-shirt.

I believe in my biggest goals in life.  I have faith - even when it's hard to keep - that pursuing those goals will one day lead to success.  When I check my blog hits and see that a post I spent hours on has only been read 50 times, sure I get a bit downhearted.  But when I check another one and see that it's been read 5000 times, I remind myself that I'm doing my best and I haven't given up, despite the knock-backs.  And that knowledge is enough to make me stronger.

Reaching for our goals and chasing our dreams is the only way to move forwards with positivity.  If you want something badly enough, you have to go for it.  Sure, some of my dreams are downright silly, but what is life without those silly dreams?  And hey, Phil Lester tweeted me the other day.  DREAMS CAN COME TRUE, GUYS.  

Although that's just step one in my many dreams, regarding him...

And finally... I have faith in ME.
For example, I had faith that I could eat this massive breakfast.  

I am a survivor.  I've been hurt, cheated on, lied to and abused.  But I'm here to talk to you about it and to tell you it's possible to go through all of those things and not be broken forever by them.  I'm stronger than I ever knew and I've never lost my belief in love, or my faith in people, despite the stuff I've been through.  I know who I am, what I believe in and what I want out of life.  I try to be a good friend and a kind person.  I try to think about how my actions affect other people.  I may not be perfect - far from it - but I'm trying.  

Having faith in yourself is possibly the most important kind of faith.  After all, you're going to live with yourself your whole life, so you may as well believe in the person you are.  Trust your choices, listen to your heart and your head and be honest enough to admit when you've made a mistake, so that you can learn from it.  

Have faith in who you are and try to make that person someone good.  Not because a God might be watching, or because a religious text tells you to.  But for yourself and everyone around you.

When you really think about it, there are plenty of things to have faith in.  Plenty of things to hold onto, when we need something we can truly believe in.  Whatever you choose to have faith in - be it religion, or something else entirely - is equally valid.  A person's faith is just that - personal.  

I have faith, this Easter Sunday.  I hope - no matter what form it takes - that you do, too.


  1. Wonderful column, Em----you speak so movingly of the power of love and of those people who are near and dear to you in this, often, tough and mean world. Your post is inspiring. Thanks for writing it.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it and leave such a lovely comment - it means a lot. :)


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