[PREFACE: Some will be surprised that I consider myself a person of faith…or even I care about or struggle with understanding faith at all. Most people, I have found, understand faith as one of two things:
- A religious life where living without sin is an aspiration.
- A life of constant religious devotion and proselytizing.
My life is neither of those things nor do I aspire to those as options. I have struggled over especially the past two to five years to understand faith, especially on the journey to understand myself better. This vacation I’m on has nothing to do with “recharging” but rather putting myself through a rather brutal gauntlet of focusing on myself deeply. All of this has come back to something I would have thought impossible years ago but now cannot live without. God.]
When I wrote the dedication for this blog I spoke only briefly about the subject matter I would cover in the posts – a collection of stickies that have come to represent very meaningful things to me – some more than others. While each is important, collectively they represent a single central focus:
I used to have a strong reaction to this word and what I thought it meant and I imagine anyone reading this might also. Some might hate the word and think of church or religion or that ‘thing’ you need when times are tough. Some might think it nonscientific, uninformed, or some type of mystical belief system. Some might think they have it when they don’t.
I want to describe what it means to me and begin to explain my own journey towards understanding it — and explain why multi-year journey to understand has become the most important thing in my life. This post won’t cover all of that, but it’ll start to lay the foundation.
So what is faith? Let me start by clarifying what I understand faith to be:
faith is acceptance of infinity; of what I “know” to be truth without the benefit of “seeing” or experiencing it in some way (and need not defend to others)
Faith is not something I can declare and it isn’t something I was endowed with and in fact I have toiled with understanding it at all. I’ve attended churches but that never resulted in monumental shifts in my understanding though it did give me some tools and things to think about. It isn’t something I achieved through meditation. And infinity is something beyond the limits of mathematics and science to calculate but must be accepted for either to work. So arriving at a point in life where I had to combine the two in some way to better understand myself…oy!
So what is infinity? It’s much more than the mathematical symbol ∞ or an extremely large number. Infinity is limitlessness and describes the essence of having no boundary. It is applied to time and space/distance only (energy and mass have a proportional relationship that changes throughout time).
Infinities exist all around us. I’ll explore this concept a lot moving forward, but here’s an example:
The pattern you see is called the Fibonacci sequence or the “golden ratio” and it is present in everything “nature made” (including humans, see Vitruvian man) you see every day as well as many things you will never see like shapes of galaxies. The other interesting thing about the sequence is that it can grow or shrink infinitely. If you try to calculate its limit in Excel, Excel runs out of computing power at row 1476. Given that Excel can hold more than 1M rows of data in just a single column, you can see how big the numbers get. See for yourself in this Excel workbook. It gets to a whopping number of 32875480819871500000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 before Excel fails to return a numeric result and simple results in #NUM. God is more infinite than that.
(Please don’t fall in to the trap of thinking that God belongs to any one religion. It is so common to fall in to that trap and the worst part of it is, the traps that come after we get out of the one of thinking God represents a church become even harder to untangle and avoid. That is the evolution of faith that I hope to one day understand.)
I was compelled to write this post the other day when I looked up at the wall that represents Project Sticky Note and realized that the central column just wasn’t right.
This was meant to represent the things I felt mattered most, were morals inherent to life itself, and ultimately were the things to focus on if I wanted to be more faithful and close to God. What I had written up there was wrong. I had it wrong.
But I had no idea why it was wrong or what I should write in its place. I spent hours on Sunday thinking about this before finally calling my cousin Jennifer. I had reached some new conclusions but I wasn’t sure if I was just going crazy or perhaps was on to something. Her wisdom and faith have become such a guide to me through the years and I stand in awe of the evolution both have shown. She helped me calm down and validated my take on things, as did Ian when we sat down to sushi. His response was “that’s way over my head, you’ve been working on this for close to a year, but I think I understand it.”
I took down most of what had previously occupied the center of PSN which you can see in pictures below. I made some edits on things previously written but added a lot more I have to spend time on including two numbers. The two numbers are 3 and 16 and I’ve known the meaning of these numbers nearly my whole life. I learned them at vacation bible school when my aunt sent me there when I was 8 years old and I’ve never forgotten the verse I had to study and recite:
“For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son, that whosoever shall believeth in Him shall not parish, but have everlasting life.” John, 3:16
So PSN will continue to be about celebrating great people in the world, about funny idiosyncratic moments in my life where I make funny videos, it will have all the lighthearted irreverence to it that is me, and thanks for the unsung. And throughout it all, the nature of my faith and how it is progressing in my life will be central.
What won’t be central is me, however, as depicted in the original formation of PSN. How I have learned…
Now it’s time to begin.