Examining Our Faith
When facing serious illness it’s natural to turn to God for help and sustenance. It’s also a good time to take stock of the quality of our relationship with God. The following questions can help evaluate our faith lives.
Reflect on each one:
- Does my faith empower me to live and to die well?
- Does my faith help me to access the living and loving God within me?
- Do my religious beliefs provide me with hope when I have to stand in darkness?
- Does my faith tradition help calm my fears and anxieties when they’re inflamed?
- Does my religion provide a sense of peace – that inner stillness that allows me to respond to life in a loving way versus reacting against it?
- Do my religious beliefs and practices help me to stand in and make meaning of suffering?
- Does my religion help me to see my situation in the context of a much larger story?
- The naïve faith of our childhood is not enough to carry us through the challenges of a difficult illness. If the answer to any number of these questions is “no” it may be time to deepen your faith in an intentional, mature way.
Some Suggestions for Deepening Your Faith:
- Have a conversation with your pastor or spiritual leader and discuss your answers to these questions in order to see what your church community can offer you.
- Read books that can inform your understanding of spirituality and faith.
Some suggested titles:
- Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
- Five Steps to Spiritual Freedom by Thomas Ryan
- The Spirituality of Imperfection by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham
- Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’Donohue
- Love Poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky
- After the Diagnosis: A Guide for Living by Fr. Thomas Lynch and Barbara Mariconda
- Find a “Soul Partner” who can guide and support you on your quest. (see Chapter 23 of After the Diagnosis: A Guide for Living by Fr. Thomas Lynch and Barbara Mariconda)
- Engage in spiritual practices – prayer, meditation, solitude, silence, reading Holy Scriptures, fasting from negativity (see Chapter 17 of After the Diagnosis: A Guide for Living by Fr. Thomas Lynch and Barbara Mariconda provides a good overview. There are many other excellent books on each of these practices. (A Taste of Silence by Carl Arico is an excellent introduction to centering prayer or meditation.)
- Keep a “God and Gratitude” journal where you can ask questions of God, reflect on your challenges, and list the large and small things you’re grateful for each day.
These are just a few suggestions that can help you begin a serious journey of mature faith that can anchor, sustain, and enrich you through whatever lies ahead.