Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The faith of a faithless man

My dad has always claimed to be an Atheist. I am not 100% convinced he is 100% an Atheist, but for the sake of arguement, we'll just roll with it.

When my sister went into treatment, my parents started going to Alanon meetings (meetings for friends and family members of addicts) for their own "treatment." Alanon walks people through the same 12 steps to recovery as AA and NA do. The first step is to admit that you are powerless. The second and third are as follows:

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

For an Atheist, believing there is a Higher Power is contrary to the core beliefs of Atheism. So it probably comes as no surprise that getting through the 2nd and 3rd steps was quite a challenging process for my dad, and one he fought and struggled with a lot. Finally, he came to define his Higher Power as nature and the universe, and in those times when he needs to reach out to his Higher Power, he "communes with nature," as he puts it. (This is also defined as surfing.)

A week ago, in light of my sister's first visit "home," I told my dad that I was worried and had been praying a lot that everything would work out. During my sister's visit there, I called at least once daily to check in on everything and make sure my sister was okay. Admittedly, I was a bit neurotic with worry. On the 2nd or 3rd day, my dad intercepted the phone before I could talk to my sister, and told me I was needlessly worried. I argued that it wasn't needless worry; she had relapsed countless times by going home, so based on history, I was feeling nervous.

He then told me, "Meg, I have faith in her. Everything will be fine."
"But Dad, we have trusted her in this situation before, and its always gone badly. How can you be so certain it will all be okay?"
"Because I have faith in her. I have faith in all my kids."

I have spent the past week thinking on this conversation, and have come to the realization that for a "faithless" man, my dad has far more faith than I do. I don't have blind faith in people. And probably my sister least of all. I have faith in God, but not in people. And even my faith in God is shaky at best a lot of the time. I came to the conclusion that having blind faith in a mortal person takes far more faith than believing in God, and that He has everything under control.
I've found it humbling, to say the least. And as far as we know, my dad was right. She is okay. (And I can put the phone down now.)

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