What difference does faith make, really, in the grand scheme of things? Does it change anything? Does it make bad things any less bad and good things any better?
When we surveyed FUMCFW Leadership with this question last week, a few came forth with some thoughtful answers and insights on the subject of faith and what difference it makes, especially in times like these.
Remembering to Notice Beauty
“I’m so glad to be connected to a church, especially one like ours that did so much to help us stay together during this past year,” remarks Joy Brandon, longtime church member, Good Neighbor, and UMW member. “A shining example of this was Peggy Graff’s summer music series. What a wonderful gift of calm and peace during these stressful times!”
Joy adds that Peggy’s musical selections helped her realize that there was still beauty in the world — we just need to take time to notice it. “Remember, even in a pandemic, this is the day the Lord hath made,” she says with a smile. “Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
Meeting Challenges Head-On
Robert Stovall, our beloved, soon-to-retire, positive constant and Director of Music and Worship Arts says that FAITH has been the action word and thematic approach to his life ever since COVID-19 came into our lives. “Every single day, FAITH is what gets me through all the challenges in my personal and professional situations,” he says. “I believe that with FAITH and the right frame of mind, you can get through the darkest days.”
Acknowledging his own trying situations that have challenged his drive and dedication this past year, Robert shares, “Faith, knowing that this will pass and that better days are coming, is exactly what I now thrive on. It is with FAITH and the knowing that God loves me, that I move forward with confidence and commitment to better times with my family and friends. We have challenges every single day. I’ve learned that with FAITH, all challenges can be met head-on knowing that God will see us through these extraordinary times. ONWARD!”
“I simply cannot fathom going through a year like this one without my faith in God,” agrees Lindsay Childs, Children’s Council member and mother of triplets.
“First, let me start off by saying that I recognize the privilege I have to continue working from home,” she says, “with no loss of income or benefits, while many cannot do the same.” Lindsay says that she is careful to acknowledge that her COVID experience is very different from many in our community. “However,” she adds, “that does not mean that life has not brought challenges this year that I had no way of anticipating.” As a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend, Lindsay says that it is easy to let the burdens at home and around her weigh extraordinarily heavy.
“We have all been there, at night, trying to go to sleep and those thoughts creep into your head and fill you with anxiety and fear,” she relates. “Those anxious thoughts and fears have magnified during the past twelve months. It is in those moments I have learned that I truly need God. Prayer and reflection, quiet time spent with my Lord is what gets me through the rough times, prepares me for challenges ahead and fills me with comfort and peace.”
Lindsay adds that in this time she has learned that her prayer can be more substantive than “God, thank you for this” or “God, watch over so-and-so.” Not that those prayers don’t have a place, she is quick to add, but in this year, she has evolved in her prayer-life.
“I now pray prayers that sound more like ‘God, my refrigerator died, and now I have to buy a new one…and that’s OK, but will you please make it super-obvious the right choice for me?’ Low and behold,” she says, “instead of staying up all night, Googling the best refrigerator in my price range that will actually fit in my door of my old house, I can simply ask God to guide me to the right decision and He DOES it. It is silly, I know, to pray about a refrigerator but He is a God of details and He loves me even though I don’t deserve it. He is the ONLY one who knows how much I have messed up and continue to mess up, and yet, He walks with me and He answers my prayers. A little disclaimer, sometimes He does not answer my prayers the way I want Him to, but let’s all remember who is the one in charge…it isn’t me no matter how hard I may try.”
Part of Something Bigger
For Danny Darr, longtime church member, artist, husband and father, his faith has reminded him that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves, and that has brought comfort. “It has helped me see the good things that are happening despite the attention given to the sad or scary things,” he says. “It has helped me see neighbors helping each other, and people showing kindness to one another. It has helped me think about the past, how humanity has made it through difficult things before.
Danny says that during past year in their home, his family has conducted their own spiritual talks and lessons as a family, since they were not able to attend church in person. “I have missed the experience of being in the church,” he adds, “but our family-led talks and lessons have been wonderful.”
From noticing beauty to meeting challenges, to evolving our prayer life to remembering that we are all connected to something bigger, our faith can brings comfort, courage, peace, and commitment to those who embrace it, especially during times like these.
With such a wonderful response to this question, we’ve divided this feature into three parts, each centering around the difference faith can make, from the comfort of community to hope in the face of fear. Look for Part 2 Next week!
Melinda Folse Smoot is a writer, editor, collaborator, and content strategist. In addition to her work for FUMCFW, she has a deep passion for telling stories that make a difference. With a focus on faith, grace, hope, and spirit for faith-based organizations and other clients, Melinda is always on the lookout for people with inspiring stories to share. If you have a story of faith you’d like to share, please contact Melinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.