Today, at the NICU with Sage and Ann, it was hard for me to hold on to the words I wrote yesterday. My intellect and my emotions weren’t in tune.
Some people are very pragmatic, and they don’t get upset about things they can’t change, because they can’t change them — and they don’t get upset about things they can change, because they can change them. I think that’s a fairly worthy ideal, although I often feel these people are missing some of the point. There are things that you can’t change that you should be upset about, if only to rally others to your side until you can change them. And there are things that you can change that you should be upset about, because the situation should never have been allowed to happen and a little responsive emotion is not a bad thing.
I, on the other hand, have always been very emotional — although not always in appropriate ways or for appropriate reasons. Much of my adolescence was spent trying to sort out which of my emotions were due to chemical imbalances in my brain (mostly due to poorly controlled hypoglycemia) and which were real. I learned that my emotions didn’t always match what I knew to be true.
And today, that was very much the case. I know Sage is better off in the NICU right now than at home, but it aches to know that we could be looking at additional weeks.
Ironically, I have also learned that I can’t always trust my intellect against my emotions. Like many people, I can rationalize just about anything that I put my mind to, and this can lead me to all sorts of bad decisions. Sometimes, the strongest reason I have to turn away from my intellect is just the gut feeling that my decision-making process is wrong.
I remember a youth pastor, long ago, telling our youth group “Feelings change. Facts never change. Faith doesn’t have to change.”
In other words, don’t trust your emotions; trust the facts. The tricky part of that, of course, is determining exactly what the facts are. We’re never working with total access to the facts, especially in religious and spiritual matters. I am a Christian, but it drives me absolutely bonkers when well-meaning Christians say “Every answer you need is in the Bible.” Well, fine, but it’s the selective interpretation that’s the problem, then, isn’t it? You could just as well say “Every answer you need is in the dictionary” or “Every answer you need is in Google,” because all you’d have to do is string together the information to get the right answer.
And how do you know when you have the right answer? It fits the facts? You don’t have all of them. It feels right? Can you trust that?
(The common Christian answer I’m used to hearing: God will let you know. My common answer: sometimes, God leaves you hanging. That’s not a criticism of God. That’s just the way it is, unless you’re fully deluding yourself.)
I’ve explained to several people that my views on the origin of the world are completely non-committed. I grew up with the Creationist belief. I still don’t know most of the details of the theory of evolution (I get the basics). I understand the concept of intelligent design. I’m also enough of a philosopher to believe that it’s just as possible that God designed the world ten minutes ago and gave me (and all of you) all of our memories and history fully intact, because He can. All of these beliefs are equally absurd and equally plausible, depending on what other beliefs you have.
And that, to me, is where faith comes in. Sometimes, we know we don’t have the facts, and we know our emotions may be biasing us, but despite all of that, something just feels absolutely right. I felt that way about going to college where I did, and I met Ann there on my first full day on campus. I felt that way about marrying her. I felt that way about moving here.
So yes, I believe in the completely irrational and counterintuitive concept of faith. I can’t explain it, and to me that’s the heart of it; if I could explain it, it would not be faith.
I’m sure in future days I’ll touch on this again; faith is important in my life, and I don’t mind discussing and arguing about it. Please feel free to tell me what you think of faith, or to ask more details about what I think. And play nice in the comments if someone thinks differently from you.
Today, though, I had to rely heavily on faith. My intellect tells me that Sage is in the right place. My emotions tell me that it hurts. My faith tells me that there’s a point to this. So far, every time faith has led me in a direction, there has been a point; I have no reason to believe — or to feel — that this time will be any different.