Losing the Faith of our Childhood

In so many areas of our life, we appreciate that children and adults have different capacities for understanding, that children cannot understand things in ways adults can. As we grow, our understanding becomes more nuanced, more sophisticated.

We don’t always have that appreciation when it comes to our faith. As we mature, we have to lose the faith of our childhood and replace it with an adult faith. (I say have to, recognizing that there are some people who neve take this step.)

Part of growing into an adult faith is appreciating that God isn’t always about feeling good, or even feeling reassured.

In New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton writes:

How many people are there in the world of today who have “lost their faith” along with the vain hopes and illusions of their childhood? What they called “faith” was just one among all the other illusions. They placed all their hope in a certain sense of spiritual peace, of comfort, of interior equilibrium, of self-respect. Then when they began to struggle with the real difficulties and burdens of mature life, when they became aware of their own weakness, they lost their peace, they let go of their precious self-respect, and it became impossible for them to “believe.” That is to say it became impossible for them to comfort themselves, to reassure themselves, with the images and concepts they found reassuring in childhood.

Place no hope in the feeling of assurance, of spiritual comfort. You may well have to get along without this. Place no hope in the inspirational preachers of Christian sunshine, who are able to pick you up and set you back on your feet and make you feel good for three or four days-until you fold up and collapse into despair.

We needn’t lose our faith when things get rough. But we do need to find out how to have faith in the midst of a world that is not all sunshine, and that does have moments of despair. That is difficult for children, but it is part of the task of developing a mature faith.

Advertisements

One thought on “Losing the Faith of our Childhood

  1. At the beginning of each mass or celebration service, there are few words more precious than, ‘My peace be with you, and also with you.’

    There are words, often wished spoken next, we might cherish even more. -Out of My love for you, be assured, you will never disappoint Me.-

    Imagine the moment. “Lord, how can that be? How is it possible I will never disappoint you? If I could only return to yesterday and undo what I did. . . And just moments ago, I said something I wish I could take back. . .”

    Imagine how our hearts would sing if we heard in reply, -My child, that is all I need to hear. . .

    If we must truly loose our life to gain it, why do we cling so tightly to it? And if we are truly lost until we are found, what in adult life is worth seeking that could possibly replace the unconditional love of childhood?

    Each morning when we awake, as child or adult, and we are greeted with, -Come, walk with me. Our answer should be not, “where are we going?” We would be wise to accept the invitation and in jubilation, say, “Yes!” If the Lord’s presence is the ‘prize’ in the next life, why not accept it now?

    “Place no hope in the inspirational preachers of Christian sunshine, who are able to pick you up and set you back on your feet and make you feel good for three or four days-until you fold up and collapse into despair.”

    How true. Place all hope in Christ’s ‘sunshine.’ For it is in our naked transparency of truth – our truths, no measure can ever hide, and in whose hand we from morning still hold, will our ‘confession’ be instantaneous and true – assuring us of His truth and comfort, He – our only true comfort in times of trial and tribulation.

    Out of My love for you, be assured, you will never disappoint Me.

    “They placed all their hope in a certain sense of spiritual peace, of comfort, of interior equilibrium, of self-respect.” Is there any other hope? Is Heaven not that hopeful destination?

    Cloudy days appear on each new horizon and life’s storms are ever present – Has there ever been any more comfort than that given a child – any profession of faith more true than that of a child? Any love more pure than that of a child?

    At the moment when Christ’s last breath became our first we were fully – God’s love. We were helpless and filled with nothing but his unconditional love and gift of Spirit.

    Can adulthood’s quest offer anything more comforting than a child’s unconditional love and gift of Spirit?

    Why would anyone ever want to relinquish the “hopes and illusions of their childhood?” In Christ, are they not ever present?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s