What Does "Faith" Even Mean?

I grew up going to church with my family every Sunday for as long as I can remember. Sometimes 2,3, even 4 days a week (our church was a school too - confusing). I learned a lot about God and the Bible, and mainly accepted all that I heard as fact. I heard the word faith a lot, and in a multitude of contexts (which I myself also used). Are you growing in your faith? Do you have enough faith? Where are you at in your faith? Faith so big it can move a mountain. You only need faith as small as a mustard seed. Your faith has healed you. I put my faith in God. Seriously, what does any of that even mean?

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So when I found out that I was going to talk about faith on the blog, not going to lie, I was pretty intimidated. I sit here writing, rewording, erasing, and cycling through again feeling like it is nearly impossible to figure out what I wanted to say and what I truly believe about this word in just a few paragraphs. Where do I even begin? So perhaps you are like me, and you have used this word for a long time not always realizing what its definition was, or you have never used it in your whole life and it seems mysterious and abstract. Either way, I hope as you read along with me today, you will find something in my ramblings that will be a “me too” moment. I hope it starts a conversation, sparks questions, and is something you are able to reflect on yourself, and with the people closest to you. So if you will have me, let’s take a breath, grab a cup of coffee or a hot tea (iced tea if you’re like my husband), and walk with me through what faith has revealed itself to be to me in the past while.

1) Faith is Not a Feeling.

“Faith is being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.” - Hebrews 11:1

Feelings can be the best and the worst. I think that’s why they are called feelings (duh jess). They are usually not accurate representations of a circumstance. Valid? Yes. Consistent? Definitely not. When my husband and I decided to move to BC and be apart of starting City Collective, my feelings were exactly this… inconsistent. Yup, the whole range of emotions. Frustration, confusion, doubt, worry… You name it, I probably felt it at some point or another. However, over time although I gave space for these feelings to exist, I learned that faith was choosing not to make a decision BECAUSE of feelings, but rather it was choosing to believe in SPITE of my feelings.

You see, for a long time I thought that doubt was contradictory to faith. However, contrary to popular belief I have found that faith is not the absence of doubt. Rather, faith is lingering and existing in the “what if’s”; if these questions don’t exist than that isn’t faith, it’s certainty. Asking questions is not a threat to faith, but rather one could propose that without questions, do we have any reason for hope? I have found that doubt can lead us to a truer faith, one more concrete and solid than we had before. In this process of discovering Jesus, we are invited to come to the table and revel in finding out who God is, ask questions and have confidence in knowing that we are welcomed with open arms in the midst of our doubt.

In this process of discovering Jesus, we are invited to come to the table and revel in finding out who God is, ask questions and have confidence in knowing that we are welcomed with open arms in the midst of our doubt.

2) Faith is Choosing to Act in Spite of Fear.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” - Psalm 23:4

I have spent far too many nights lying awake in bed thinking about my decisions and other people’s decisions. I wouldn’t say I’m a worrier but sometimes if I am honest, I can mistake genuine worry for thoughts rooted in fear. Fear of inadequacy. Fear of rejection. Fear of not being enough. Fear that I made a wrong decision. Like feelings, it’s ok for fears to be recognized, but they cannot be the foundation. Fear isn’t our foundation. Feelings aren’t our foundation. I love that God finds the simplest ways in these moments of fear to say, “hey I’m here too. I know you’re scared, but I got you.” I remember when we first moved into our place in Langley, after a long day making our final trip from Calgary with all our things, I sat on the floor of my new house hand in hand with my sweet husband and cried. I still can’t explain why I did, obviously I was tired and overwhelmed. But I think at that very moment I was challenged to understand what it meant deeply and truly when I would say, “I have faith.” When I felt tired, at the end of my rope, fearful of the unknown, there beneath my fears lay an invitation to a peace not of my own doing. In that moment, faith looked like me clinging on to hope and trusting that He wouldn’t let me go.

3) Faith as a Belief, moves us to Action and Intentionality in Confirmation of that Belief.  

“Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” - James 2:18

Faith inspires courage to take the action that is rooted in a core belief.

Coffee Coffee Coffee. I swear i say the word minimum 10x/day either in the context of wanting it, loving it, needing it (when did 2 cups become the new one cup?), dreaming of it, which culminates to me getting a cup in my hand asap. It’s funny how my passion and belief even in something so small can influence my thoughts, behaviours, and actions. When you believe in something, you are moved to some sort of action that affirms this belief. By having faith, I am moved to act in a manner that it so passionately inspires. Sometimes this means picking up your life [even when its 100% comfortable], and other times it means staying and waiting. It could mean walking away from a relationship, or embracing a new one. Faith inspires courage to take the action that is rooted in a core belief. The coolest part of this is that strength and courage is not conjured up through pep talks in the mirror every morning, but rather is a one rooted in relationship with a loving, gracious and passionate Father.

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understanding what faith means is less about coming to a conclusion or finding the right answer, and more about the process of drawing closer to Jesus

Now, as I mentioned earlier, I am no expert, but i hope this has sparked some thoughts and is something you may be able to relate to personally. At the end of all this, my brain is still running a mile-a-minute thinking about new questions, anxieties, joys, and discoveries. I think one of my favourite elements of faith is when I am able to share this in community. To have these conversations, to be vulnerable, to allow for different opinions, to create a safe place that feels and sounds like home. Faith is no longer simply a personal experience, but one that is nurtured in the context of my fam. That being said, I would love to hear more about what faith means to you and some of the questions you may have, or have found answers to in your process. This is a never-ending journey of discovery. It is an ongoing evolution of understanding, growth, questioning, doubt, and confusion; and in all of this there is so much beauty to be found. Most of all, I hope you realize what I have come to find in this process: understanding what faith means is less about coming to a conclusion or finding the right answer, and more about the process of drawing closer to Jesus. It doesn’t have an endpoint, however I do believe that as we seek to know who God is, He will gently and kindly reveal his nature to us, and in turn will help us discover who we are created to be.

Jessica Cooper4 Comments