Today, I’ve been thinking about how so much in life, especially in this day and age, is transactional. And that led the way to thinking about how sometimes we use religion and even our faith in transactional manners.
Never when things are good, right? Always when things get rough, when there is discord, a natural disaster, illness. Then we become the best [insert your religious denomination here]. We fill our mouths to state what God WILL do for us without thinking about what we haven't done for ourselves or others. We demand things of him that we have not demanded of ourselves. We make proclamations to show people how deep our faith is, as if we were peacocks showing off our plumes to gain favor but, faith is about so much more.
It's about what you put in it as you wait, about what you get out of it when you're not in crisis. It’s about leading your life the same way behind closed doors and in front of the world. Our faith requires us to be present, to be obedient and to be relational. Always. It requires us to live with a certain level of integrity so that we can lead others to an understanding and a trusting of faith. At least, that’s what I feel for myself. The need to live in such a way so as to be an example, not of my religion, per se (though I hope that is always the case) but of the faith I carry within myself.
But, let’s not think that the obedience that’s required of us is one that does not question, that does not ponder, one that follows blindly. We have to remember that we each have been given our own instincts, our own gifts. Obedience also applies to how you listen to yourself, how you process red flags, how you honor your ancestors, your guides.
I’ve had to think a lot about faith during these moments of contemplation. Mami used to say that she would walk into any church to worship. That was her way of saying that her faith was greater than any building. That she could worship anywhere because her faith was contingent on relationship.
Faith (unlike religion, which sometimes has been made to feel as if it’s transactional) is not an ATM that you can roll in and enter your "deserving" PIN to get something valuable out. Faith is the every day, the moments that don't seem to be much of anything, it's the waiting. The peace that passes all understanding. The knowing who you are and who He/She is. The giving up of worrying because you know whose you are.
Don't ever let faith be transactional. There's so much to lose when we don't realize that our relationship is just as much about who we worship as it is about who we are and who we are to become.