I recently scanned a book written by someone who’d been working through the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for a number of years. At the time of the writing, he felt he was on a good road. But the book contained struggle after struggle to get or stay sober. After each successful intervention there was almost always an immediate relapse. His personal history and current problems were just too overwhelming for him to face without the medicating effects of alcohol and drugs. Finally, a good program of therapy seems to be helping him make changes in how he approaches life. His main conclusion is one of the standard lines of therapists, counselors, and recovering addicts: the only way out is through.
This statement goes against much of our culture. We’d like to think the only way out is out. When an obstacle blocks our way, when there is trouble, we want to get out of our responsibilities, family, school. Get away from anything that is difficult. Escape from the painful. And so we medicate with television, work, food, and—yes, drugs and alcohol.
Of course, getting out is sometimes the first thing one must do. Leave an abusive situation, get away from friends and circumstances that are unhelpful. Find a job that isn’t soul-draining like the current one.
But even when getting out is the best first step, the next part is still getting through. Leaving behind a bad situation doesn’t fix everything. We often take with us the tendency to repeat the same mistakes. We carry the hurt from wrongs done to us; we carry the guilt of wrongs we’ve done to other people. We all have our baggage that goes with us wherever we are. The obstacles are always nearby, even if not directly in our path.
This is, I think, the daily-ness of faith: getting through. It doesn’t sound very glamorous, does it? Or very spiritual, even. Well, while it may not be full of glamour, I do think it is full of Spirit, and full of faith.
A life of faith is a life of waking up each morning and getting through. Sometimes, the day to come is full of joy and purpose. Sometimes it stretches out like every other day—boring, even. Sometimes it looms with difficulty. Our most faithful response is to find (or make) a way through.
A way through joy and purpose may be to help bring those things to others who need them.
A way through boredom and difficulty may eventually call forth joy or purpose from them. Even if that is not possible, we face them with prayer and faith, with friends and loved ones, with hope and peace, with God. When we are able to make our way through the sameness of another day, or through the struggle of a difficult day, or when we’ve stood by another, then that has been a tremendous act of faith. We are making our way through, with God’s help. Great obstacles have been moved.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Luke 17:5-6
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2010