How do you ‘get faith / find faith’ when you don’t have it?
How does one acquire faith?
Dear Help –
The word ‘faith’ is a loose translation and often an inaccurate one from the Hebrew word ‘Emunah.’ Emunah connotes faithfulness and steadfastness. Emunah is active, offering us an awareness of our inner life while nurturing a sense of God-consciousness.
The question you are asking has a different answer for everyone. For me, it was the result of an intellectual decision based on years of study. After all that I read and learned about Jewish life and philosophy, I made an intellectual decision to believe and to behave in a faithful way even when I have doubts, questions, and concerns. In fact, my favorite quote says the following, “The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt but in spite of doubt.” ― Rollo May, The Courage to Create (page 21).
Let me put it this way: I chose this lifestyle because my brain felt satisfied with the ‘proofs’ (if you can loosely call them that) and because I saw that the ‘Jewish Operating System’ maximizes both my coping mechanisms and my character. In short, the world is more meaningful for me when I approach life with my Jewish soul in both a physical and metaphysical way. I believe that EVERYTHING that is handed to me gives me the opportunity to refine my character and to maximize the pleasure that can be achieved when our soul parents our bodies.
While a cat cannot be trained to not chase a mouse (remember that story???), we can train ourselves to operate above our impulses. I believe that this is part of the soul that G-d gave to me and that it can be plugged into an endless, infinite capacity. So, it is not when things are easy that faith is acquired. Instead, it is when we ‘choose up’ instead of down; when we do what’s right rather than what ‘feels good.’ It is when we stop asking “LaMa” (Why?) and instead ask LeMa, which means ‘For what?’. Can I choose the holy response when I am angry and can I restrain myself because we are told not to rage? Can I see this loss/disappointment/defeat as a kind of spiritual P90X for the soul? When I live according to these principles, faith and trust are acquired as a byproduct. Just like happiness is a byproduct of meaning, Emunah is a byproduct of behaving according to G-d’s vision for a meaningful life.
I can only hope that this answer begins to open a conversation you have with yourself and others!
My suggestion is that you begin to study the laws of speech. They are intuitive and a potentially inviting introduction to Jewish values. As you learn about Jewish views on speech, you will repeatedly feel challenged. As you build muscle and resist temptation, you will begin to feel more like yourself. And you will feel G-d’s trust in you! And that builds more trust, and so on and so on and so on…
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