Have a little faith in me.

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.

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5 Responses to Have a little faith in me.

  1. Andrea Lott says:

    I think the point of Sage staying in the NICU is to come home a healthy Sage. I don’t believe God or the Universe or whatever is giving you some kind of trial to prove a point or teach a lesson. I just don’t believe God would do that – even if he would do it to you and Ann, he wouldn’t do it to Sage. The point of all this is that Sage and Ann both get to live and be healthy, even if it will be a rough journey, something that wouldn’t have been possible even a very few years ago. As hard as it is for you all, keep focused on the goal: a healthy and happy family. You have come this far. You’re in the home stretch now. I continue to pray for you and Sage and for Ann’s continued recovery.

    Now, just because there’s not a point or a lesson placed inherently in a trial, doesn’t mean you won’t learn one or get one regardless… You are a deep thinker and have an open mind. That will make you a great parent.

    • strangedavid says:

      Ah! I definitely was not clear, then. No, I don’t believe that this is a trial intended to teach me a lesson. I don’t believe in “Christmas Shoes” theology. What I do believe is that moments in our lives lead us to other moments that otherwise would not have been possible.

      For example, my father once took a trip to Chicago when I was very small. Over the phone from his hotel room, he told me he was looking over a lake that was so big you couldn’t see across it. To me, that was magical. It led to me being a fan of all things Chicago, which played into the reason I went to the college I went to, which is where I met Ann.

      Every time I have followed my faith, I have seen things fall into place that have enriched my life — things that could not have happened if I had not followed my faith.

      I am not so naive as to believe that the other paths I could have chosen would have automatically been worse. Perhaps there are things I’ve missed by following my faith, but the bottom line for me is that every part of my life that makes me happy, I have found while following my faith.

      Maybe there’s a direct reason this is happening — something grand and profound like the idea that I’m needed there so that I can say the right thing to the right person at the right time and change his or her life for the better. (I doubt it.) Or maybe it’s something incredibly distant where I’ll never see the result. I don’t know. But I do know that right now, my faith is telling me that sometime down the road, I’ll be able to look back and say, “If not for this, then ________ could not have happened.”

      The most cynical will point out that it’s just cause and effect working and I’m choosing to put a positive spin on it. Maybe that’s the case; I won’t dispute that as a possibility. I don’t ask you to share my faith. I’m just telling everyone that this is where I stand. Feel free to stand with me, or just near me with your fingers crossed for me. I don’t mind.

  2. Andrea Lott says:

    I’m perfectly ok with someone putting a positive spin on any adversity. It’s really all we can do, right? I love you for it. Keep it up. I’m hoping Brian and I can come up and see you guys tomorrow before we pick Hannah up. He is dying to meet Sage! xoxo

  3. Carrie says:

    I’ve been thinking about you guys so much since you announced Sage’s birth. I’m so excited for you guys, but I can’t imagine how awful it feels to have your baby and not have her at home with you. We all know the NICU is the best place for her, but leaving her there must kill you inside. I try to imagine how it must feel to leave your baby in the NICU and I start shaking.

  4. Catherine Charlton Meeker says:

    Hey David, been a long time. I’ve been following your story (congrats!) and some of what you’ve said in this post sounds so familiar. It’s late, and I can’t guarantee that I’ve read this, and the responses, completely thoroughly, so forgive me if what I’m about to say has already been said. My son has cancer. He has a 10% chance of survival. He’s spent most of the last 10 months in the hospital and has relapsed once so far. I’ve always been a Christian, but I have to admit to struggling with trying to understand God’s purpose in all this – as though I could begin to. It drives me almost insane when people quote those all familiar Bible passages to me and imply that somehow I should be happy about all this. Here’s where I am today (know that it changes depending on the darkness of my mood): God is a loving God. That doesn’t mean that life will be easy. We can’t begin to know His reasons for making things happen, and if we try to guess, we’re probably going to be wrong. God has a perfect plan and we will all end up exactly where He wants us to be. How we get there, only He knows. Pain and suffering can be used to shape, mold, and inspire. And maybe most importantly: Every time I get pissed at Him and think that He’s being unfair, He uses SOMETHING to show me that He’s in control and that His hand is in all things. That’s all I’ve got. Maybe not much, but I can empathize with you as someone who aches over the suffering of their child. Oh, and about creation vs. evolution, etc… I think that possibly they’re not inconsistent with each other and maybe go hand in hand. And that science can directly point to God’s power and creativity. Ok I’m done. Wishing you all the best.

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