Belief and faith

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

Belief and faith are words that tend to be used interchangeably in many religious circles, but I think of them differently. Belief is the holding of a mental proposition to be true. Faith is trusting in something or someone even without proof.

For me, belief comes from the head. Faith comes from the heart.

Belief is hard when I’m depressed because it’s hard to see clearly enough in the darkness to know what is true and what isn’t.

It’s hard to believe that things will get better when all of life has seemed to turn to ashes.

It’s hard to believe that I have value when it takes all I have to make it through the day doing the bare minimum with nothing left over to give to others.

It’s hard to believe that people will stick around when I don’t have the energy to do all of the usual things that I do to keep relationships running smoothly.

It’s hard to believe that there is meaning in anything when all of life has turned grey and distorted in the darkness.

It’s hard to believe that God is anywhere in this darkness.

But ironically, it’s in the darkest times of depression that my faith is strongest. It has to be because those are the times that I cannot see, cannot believe, in the usual ways.

It is only faith that says things will get better (even when I don’t see how), that I do have value (even if I can’t imagine what that value might be), that the right relationships will survive, that I can find meaning even in this, that God is present even in the darkest moments. My mind cannot grasp any of these things, nor assert that they are true. (Even as I type them, my mind wants to argue against them.)

But there remains a thread of trust, of faith, connected to my heart that holds even through the darkest night. This thread of faith is not (and has never been) anything that I have done. It is a gift of pure grace that holds onto me via that thread of faith even when I cannot hold myself (nor believe that I am worth holding).

It is this that tells me that faith and belief are not the same thing, at least not for me.

How do you distinguish between faith and belief in your life?

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4 thoughts on “Belief and faith

  1. It is what you said–it is head versus heart. Maybe it is a combination of know that thinks stink right now, but also truly knowing that it won’t last. I am praying for you, KJ! Xoxo

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