My faith journey has really only begun. There is still a lot more in the world that I need to experience and grow from, but I have taken the first few steps on my journey. In the fall of 2009 I lost one of my greatest mentors. Even though I was only nine at the time, it made a big impact on my life, maybe, an even bigger impact because I was only nine. Uncle Butch had really acted like my grandfather for most of life and when he died I was absolutely devastated. It was really the first person that died for whom I truly loved. However, with help from my family, my dad in particular, and others who had lost Butch, too, I became stronger in a sense. My dad had said to me one day while I was really missing Butch was, “One day instead of feeling the need for tears when you think of Butch, you will smile because you knew him.” (Or something along those lines.) Which is really Dr. Seuss’s quote “Don’t cry because it is gone, smile because it happened.” For months after Butch had died I thought of him pretty much daily, and I still do think about him often. But I began to understand what my dad had told me, and it helped me get through it. Most of time now I think about my good memories with Butch, but it is still true that I miss him a lot (sometimes more than others) and it gets hard at times.
Losing Butch has been pretty hard, but it makes me a better and stronger person because so often I think of pleasing Butch. At the end of the day I sometimes reflect on the day or past couple of days and I wonder, “If Butch were still here I hope that he would be proud of who I’ve become.” This has really pushed me to be the best I can be and pick the right decision. Also, most people at age nine have not experienced death of a close family friend that practically is family (or so I think) and it has made me begin to realize that I can’t take things for granted and it made me a little more mature (I think) having to deal with a tragedy like this at a fairly young age; especially since Butch’s death was so sudden and unexpected. Over time I had begun to gradually cope with Butch’s passing better, but I noticed that Kathy was still having lots of trouble during communion in particular. It gave me a chance to start to learn how to be the rock for someone, even when you yourself want to break down and cry. While it is still very upsetting that I cannot hear his voice any longer and I often have trouble picturing him, Butch’s passing has caused me to be stronger and also (I think) has challenged me and helped me become a better person.
Okay, unto a slightly lighter topic, but still something that I think has greatly impacted my faith. The year that I started confirmation I feel like I began to really examine my own faith. For the prior several years, while I was beginning to take my faith more seriously, it was more of a spoon-feeding. The year 2011 was really when I started to analyze the world around me and try to find what I personally believe. I still have a long way to go and at times it can be very annoying when I believe two things, but they seem to contradict each other. That’s part of the reason why I like the retreats that we take to talk about our faith for a whole weekend along with the Shekinah (and I’m sure Chrysalis) gatherings. They are a time to untangle at least some of the mess of my faith by listening to other points of views and what other people believe. One thing that helps me understand my faith is to take what a bunch of other people say (as long as I still agree with it, just I like their wording) and mix it with my own analysis and change it to fit my belief slightly better.
I really like to wrestle with what I believe. There is just something that gives me pleasure from it. It is hard to explain, kind of like what my beliefs and faith are. There is so much I want to say and I don’t know how to say it. What I do say usually ends up contradicting each other at least at some point. Then, when that happens, I love to try to figure out it is what I do mean and find the right wording. It provides a challenge and lots of thinking (usually in a metaphorically or poetic way) and it gives me strength and happiness to find my footing on my faith path. I realize that there is still a lot more to untangle and with every person that I meet there is another section that is going to get more tangled or tangled again after I thought I understood it. There probably isn’t enough time in my life to understand everything clearly, but that is part of the fun, seeing where you go, what path you take, and where you end up.
Click here to see Mom’s response to this homework assignment.
Click here to see Dad’s response to this this homework assignment.