Monday, December 6, 2010

On Belief

I believed in Santa until an embarrassingly old age because Lee Kinard, the Channel 2 weatherman, said he was real. With each passing year, my shaky belief swinging like a pendulum between the magical and the rational, I'd watch Mr. Kinard show a radar picture of Santa's sleigh and tell all of us children to hurry off to bed. And every Christmas Eve until I was 10 years old, I'd fall fast asleep knowing that Santa was real and tangible even though none of it made sense and all of the other kids said Santa was actually your parents.

I've often wondered why my belief in Santa persisted beyond that of all my peers while I questioned the existence of God at such an early age.

I went to church twice on Sundays. I memorized Bible verses on Wednesday nights and got award pins. My mom directed the church children's choir and my dad delivered sermons week in and week out. There was persuasion aplenty swirling about during those impressionable childhood days and I tried hard to believe....most of the time.

But as I got older, belief became more difficult. And while I was able to keep the serious and scary doubt at bay for years at a time, by mid-20's I was a mess. None of it made sense and I demanded proof. Church-going and sermons and choir didn't cut it anymore.

Stories of God and the motions of religious rituals, much like the myth of Santa Claus and the practice of Christmas traditions, seemed contrived and meaningless. I wanted someone to point out God and Truth on a radar screen so that I could fall asleep with the assurance that He was real.

My own story would probably be a more powerful one if I could tell you that Belief showed up in some magical, supernatural way with glitter and snow-dust and angels or in the midst of drugs and jail-time and a biker gang.

But the story unfolded without much fanfare or drama at all...

An over-thinking girl with a still-seeking heart buried beneath all of that cynicism, just me and the book of Romans on a winter's day, stumbling into a church that taught Truth with equal parts Word and conviction and grace, the gentle, powerful persuasion of the Spirit that whispered to my searching self, This is true and real and no amount of evidence can make you believe.

There wasn't some convincing apologetics book or a 12-steps-to-belief program. After years of struggling to understand, the nonsensical slowly began to make sense and with each shaky step toward belief, my feet found surer ground.

I know now that all the evidence in the world is no match for a heart that is simply not ready to receive faith. It's a gift. Faith, that is. And for natural-born skeptics like me, it's one we have to keep receiving daily.

Christmas becomes increasingly special to me each year because for the Believer, it's so much about the receiving. The rituals and practices and songs force me to reckon with my daily state of faith...or lack thereof. The motions are no longer empty or superficial. They point, like a radar, to the One who is real and who came and still comes, every day, with fresh faith to be opened as a gift for skeptical strugglers like me.

And maybe like you too.

May hope and faith be your gifts to receive during this second week of Advent.


Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

{Hebrews 11:1)

{Linking up with Ann once again on this crazy and messy Monday to count the gifts}

44. Our Jesse Tree, a helpful "pointer" to Truth

45. A full pantry

46. Three {still pajama-clad children} playing robber-catching-police on the sofa

47. Books

48. Coffee {I know, it's on every list...but it's such a worthy gift}

49. The loveliest event, A Charles Dickens Christmas, that Blondie and Brownie and I attended over the weekend {complete with feasting and crafts and Ebeneezer Scrooge}

50. Cupcake's first Christmas craft {made at church}, a manger scene with Baby Jesus on top of the stable

51. My own healing head...after a mishap involving a wayward board propped up in the garage, followed by a trip to the E.R., and a couple of staples to keep it all together. {Also thankful for anesthetic.}

52. My mom, who happened to be here when the board fell and who tenderly took care of me just like she used to {Thanks Mom!}

52. Wooden train and a toy guitar, delightful presents for Cupcake in honor of his 3rd birthday


  1. Beautiful little post...thanks for sharing a little of your story- so cool! :)

  2. Your experience sounds a lot like the one I'm currently in. I am 19 years old and I am struggling with the same thing. Your post is encouraging though. I am okay and "normal". Thank your the encouragement and the reminder.

  3. My dear one, the capacity for faith has been there all along, as evidenced by your belief, as a child, in Lee Kinard and his pre-Doppler radar. Now that you're all-growing-up (we're never fully grown, are we?), God's gift of faith to you--freely given in spite of, not so much because of, your demanding it--brings you so much more than excitement as you go off to sleep on Christmas Eve. He is so good!

  4. Read that comment from your mom again. Now pretend that I am wise and good enough to have said that, for that's exactly what I wish I could have said. I also wish I could hang around you and your mom some, you know?

    As an elderly friend of mine used to say, "Thank God for Jesus." He's awfully kind to have come the way He did, wasn't He? "Where meek souls will receive Him still the dear Christ enters in."

    Love you!

  5. ok, i just posted a comment but it was under j's email address so i'm trying this again.

    i love the way you present the words in your heart. i remember that first year of BS when you questioned everything. you are such an amazing example of God's love and grace and you are precious in His site.

    I am going to write a post and link back to you too ok??

    love you....

  6. Your fan-fare-less and drama-free story is so familiar, friend. Love this post.


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