“No one can tell you how to believe,” the words of Fr. Kimel echo through my head. How do I believe? How do I find faith? I need not worry about that right now. It is not my own faith that shall lead me. Auntie prays for me constantly. I have no idea why my biological parents failed to sustain me in a faith. I have no idea why I couldn’t come to Jesus in my parents’ eyes until I made the first intellectual confession of faith. I have no idea why my father pushes me so hard to form an intellectual understanding of the faith and uses this to beat up on my own desires toward the Catholic and Eastern Christian teachings.
But for some reason, I lay here, dying…spiritually that is. And yet, God is working on something—this is what Auntie chooses to believe. (From here on, I shall refer to Auntie as Mother.) Mother wants to be my guide. My father failed to believe that the sacraments united us to God via God’s own action and merely the humans’ response. Because of this, faith from my father wasn’t imparted to me, I didn’t grow up in the “right” church, and I have never been born again of water and Spirit. My father failed to allow me to receive that gift of the Spirit that was supposedly for the Christians and their children (Acts 2:39). God just simply didn’t call children to him according to my father. My dad failed to let the children come to Jesus (Matt. 18:1-6). And now, there are three children in his family who struggle with faith—we don’t know what my younger sister is and my older sister is a fierce atheist.
Because of this failure of my parents to sustain me in faith, I felt that faith was something you constantly search to find. You must eventually find faith of your own and you must eventually make the “I” profession in a literal fashion. There was no dependence on another person’s faith to be your own. And yet, it was dependence on another person’s faith to be my own that has kept me from completely tail spinning out of control all this time. And you had to be able to reason out your faith in such a way that other people would find it appealing. This is the doctrine of my parents’. But my deacon tells me, “God wants you to be who you want to be!”
Like St. Augustine, I have now come to depending entirely on Mother’s faith to sustain me in this dark time as I am led to Jesus by her. I don’t know when I’ll get there but it doesn’t matter. I will survive because of her faith, her prayers. “‘Like the widow of Nain,’ exclaims St. Augustine in his ‘Confessions,’ ‘she followed the bier of her son until the poignancy of her grief obtained from God the answer, ‘I say unto thee, Arise!’’” (The Mother of St. Augustine, 97)
Indeed, right now, I am spiritually dead. My own faith won’t do any good for me at this point. The wounds show on my arms—I’m not happy with myself. The cuts have stopped but the butterfly of protection comes back every now and again of Mother putting her life in danger just so that her child can be freed. Similarly, the Widow of Nain fought for her child’s life.
“Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. 13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, rise!’ The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen among us!’ and ‘God has looked favourably on his people!’This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.” (Luke 7:11-17, NRSVACE)
There wasn’t anything the man’s faith could have done for him. The man was spiritually dead. But Mother continues to pray for me. Her faith is strong and still availing. And I know that she would never permit me to do anything that she thought an infant couldn’t do. No mother puts her child in harm’s way. Mother’s child is spiritually dead. But Mother continues to pray for his resurrection. And because of this, her child will be raised from the dead. God has delivered me into her hands—her safe hands—and that is all that matters for now. So I must stay healthy and physically alive so that the spiritual renewal will finally be able to happen. Mother’s prayers will raise me back to life. An infant can depend on its mother’s faith as its own and so I shall depend on Mother’s faith as my own.
I don’t know why my parents refused to raise me into the right religion at the start. Why they rejected the opinion that God could continue to touch his people in unique ways. I don’t know why but for some reason, that’s what they chose to do.
“Sometimes, too, this grace is bestowed upon the children of unbelievers, when they happen by some means or other to fall, by reason of God’s secret providence, into the hands of pious persons; but, on the other hand, the children of believers fail to obtain grace, some hindrance occurring to prevent the approach of help to rescue them in their danger.” (Augustine, On Grace and Free Will, 2.44)
For some reason, my parents chose to deny me grace. They chose to deny my sisters grace as well—is this why our faiths are at risk right now? But because of this, God has delivered me into the hands of a woman who cannot have children on her own and has permitted me to call this woman Mother so that she can finally be the Mother to a Child that she has always longed for. And now, her faith is being imparted to me for my own keeping right now.