The Real Meaning of Faith

“Thy will be done.” Matthew 6:10

My first memory of catechesis was our teacher asking us what faith means. We, as a group of second graders, said belief. To have faith in something means you believe in it. This definition stuck with me far beyond second grade. My understanding of faith even through high school was that if I tried hard enough to believe then maybe my faith would be strong.

Then, I got to college and there was no more youth group or small group discussion questions or conferences for me to go to. There weren’t as many breakthrough moments for me or emotional responses to Jesus in the Eucharist. My faith was growing and changing as I was and getting more complicated. Belief didn’t really cover everything anymore. My Catholic faith shaped my whole life. I went to daily Mass, prayed a rosary with my roommate every week, led a women’s group and chose to study theology. But if you asked me what faith meant I still would say just a belief that God exists and is good.

And that’s true. Faith does mean that you believe God exists and He’s good. It also is a gift from God, a supernatural virtue infused by Him (CCC 153) but I’ve found that my personal understanding of faith has changed as my relationship with God has changed. Not necessarily the definition of faith, I’m talking about faith as it is lived and understood. When I was younger it meant if I believed as hard as I could I would have faith. Then, for a long time faith meant persevering even when I wasn’t feeling anything. It meant finding God in the storm not shaking him awake in the boat. It meant being fearless even when I didn’t want to. And now, as I’m halfway through my senior year of college for me to have faith means I must be open.

I must be open to God’s plan for my vocation.

I must be open to God shaking up my plans for post graduation.

I must be open to God’s will in my relationship.

I must be open to God’s movement in my heart.

I must be open to God’s push. To His tenderness. To His mercy. To His voice.

And that’s not just for a graduating college senior. In every part of life we are called to be open to God’s plan and His will for us. Recently I’ve been reading a book by Fr. Jean D’Elbée and in it he says often we pray “thy will be done” but really mean “my will be thine.” I don’t know about y’all but that rings true for me.

I pray thy will be done every day, I try to follow God but then when it comes to doing something big or scary or something I don’t like, I recoil. I get nervous. I back away. But that’s exhausting. When I give control to God and remain open I have more peace than when I try and handle it on my own. Sure, it seems more safe to make my own plans and have control but in reality, I need to give it to God because He has the best for me.

This all hinges on openness. In order to authentically allow God’s will to be done in our lives we have to be open to what he’s going to throw our way. That doesn’t mean we don’t make plans. It means that our plans take a backseat to the movement of the Spirit. It means that we give everything over to God so He has room to move us. It means that we empty ourselves so we may be filled with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes God shakes things up and sometimes He doesn’t but I encourage you to be open, to listen, and to move when God calls you.

Reflect/Journal/Talk About It

  • What does faith mean to you? Take at least five minutes to reflect on this.
  • Do you believe that God has the best for you?
  • When you say “thy will be done” do you mean it in your heart or are you hoping that you’ll get your way?
  • Take time in prayer to ask God to help you open up your heart to Him. Ask Him how you can continue to be more open to His will.

This blog is part of a series called, “Love Notes.” That’s what the Bible is — a big, giant, love letter from God, to you. In these blogs we pick out a favorite verse to write about in the hopes that you will take it to prayer and reflect on it too, either by yourself or with friends. God wants to speak to you through Scripture, use this blog as a guide to help you listen! Find more Love Notes blogs by clicking here.