“My faith guides me.”
“I trust God to take care of it.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
You hear things like this when people are talking about misfortune, comforting those who are struggling or in pain, or taking some action that could have bad results. These quotes are all signs of faith, which is simply the belief that a higher power or greater force drives the universe toward a place of goodness.
For both religious and non-religious people, faith plays an important role. It quells our anxieties. It motivates us to take risks. It does these things by assuring us that it will all be okay.
However, faith also strips us of our agency, passes the credit for our successes, and makes us feel worse when we fail. Some may argue that there is no harm in believing that a higher power will save the day. I argue that such an attitude is disrespectful to ourselves.
Recently, I lost my job. Although this came at the tail end of a treacherous span of years, through which I struggled with depression and suicidal ideation, oddly, I found my premature departure refreshing. Partly because the workplace was toxic and partly because I now had time to focus on my own business, I felt pretty optimistic and empowered. Meanwhile, I was flourishing as an artist and enjoying a renewed connection with my partner. To me, it seemed like the universe had indeed opened several doors despite slamming one.
Yet when I posted about these exciting new opportunities on social media, I was a little dismayed by the comments:
“See? You just had to have faith.”
“See? It all worked out.”
“See? God works in mysterious ways.”
Yes, I see. I see that things are better now. But where is the acknowledgment of my efforts? Had I sat on my couch and rewatched “Scrubs” for the umpteenth time instead of working hard to launch my business, it wouldn’t matter if the universe flung open a thousand doors.
Having faith does nothing except assuage our fears. It has no role in honoring our good work. In fact, it’s so…