Purposeful faith found through personal reflection, challenges

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    Life is a series of uncertainties. When you think you have one thing figured out, circumstances come along that make you realize you’ve figured out nothing. You go to a university to learn how to make a living and realize, through a series of events, you haven’t figured out your life at all. These experiences are common in the lives of college students – and if you haven’t experienced it yet, rest assured, you will.As a graduate student, I have learned things I wish I had learned as an undergraduate. I don’t mean in the area of academics but in the area of life. I did not realize life is a mystery that must be solved as we live; it is not a preordained path with every problem worked out in advance. Realizing that would have saved me untold days of confusion and uncertainty. I now know the only thing certain is uncertainty – and that’s where faith is born.

    No matter what religious background one is from, all human beings have to live with a sense of faith in what they’re doing. I don’t mean faith in a dogmatic sense, but rather, faith as a sense of purpose in what one does.

    Of course faith always has doubt as its dancing partner.

    According to Taylor Branch’s book “Parting the Waters: America in the King Years,” Martin Luther King Jr. said, ” … if a position implies a negation, and a negation a position, then faith carries unbelief with it, theism, atheism, and if one member of the pair comes to be doubted, the result may be disastrous…”

    The problem many of us have is the unwillingness to admit we don’t know where our lives are heading after we finish school – we believe we have it all figured out.

    Yet faith demands honesty – with ourselves and our world. Faith is not a wish or fantasy; it is the heartbeat behind every human endeavor. All who wish to do great things must have honest faith. To delude ourselves with the notion that everything in life is going to be smooth and all of our plans will work out just as we imagined it would be is both foolish and sad.

    Unfortunately, I believed that lie and experienced a necessary disillusionment. I now realize life must be embraced as a puzzle, with the pieces falling into place only as we live and not as we daydream.

    The only way to reach a place of realistic perception is to be honest with oneself. You must find out who you are on your own and not rely on what anyone else may have told you in the past. Perhaps a “wilderness” period is the only way you can discover the mystery of you. After all, Moses, Buddha and Jesus all had to wrestle with their demons and come to terms with who they were before they made the impact they did. Of course I’m not expecting anyone to be a founder of a great religion – that’s the last thing we need – but I am hoping we embrace those periods in our lives that force us to take stock of who we really are and not what we are in our own exaggerated imaginations.

    It is only when we get to the point where our lives become a reflection of who we are on the inside that faith is truly revealed. Getting to that place requires suffering (in its many manifestations) and perseverance, and yet it is necessary if we are to be the people we are intended to be.

    Erick Raven is a first-year graduate student in the School of Education from Grand Prairie. His column appears every Friday.