I haven’t written an article in several months. I have sat down many times and tried but my thoughts have been blurred and confused. I have felt as if my life has been turned upside down over the last little while…for several reasons. As most of you know, the past 4 years have tested every ounce of my being and although I have fought with every part of me to overcome all the challenges that have arisen, time and time again I have found myself back on my knees fighting to understand so much. I have found myself struggling to understand the reasons why I have been faced with so many things and, in the midst of it all….I lost my faith. Every last ounce of it. I lost my faith in life, in God, in family, in friendship, in the integrity of humans, in honesty and basically in everything I once considered important.
I don’t relate faith and prayer to any particular religion simply because I believe it is absurd to do so. I believe religion separates us from our fellow human beings – today more than ever – and I am strongly against that. I relate faith and prayer to humanity as a whole, to everything we share as living breathing beings, to life on earth and to love for one another. I consider faith and prayer food for the soul and nourishment for the heart, body and mind however…. this was not always the case for me because almost my entire life, I associated faith and prayer directly to religion. I know this not to be true now but it took almost 40 years for me to awaken to this reality.
Having said that, I was born into a Greek Orthodox family and although I am not devotedly religious, I do still find solace in going to church to be at peace with myself, – it’s the political part of the church that repulses me and keeps me away – to pray without the disruptions of my smartphone and every other device that has taken over our lives today.
Throughout my life, my family has endured great loss. From the time I was a child, I watched my family become more and more attached to the church – and thus religion – with every tragic death and illness we endured. They did this hoping it would somehow save them from further heartache and avert any further loss or grief, but regardless of their efforts the loss and grief continued and as a result, making my belief and attachment to the church – which to me meant faith and prayer – less and less until it eventually became non existent. Why would I pray and have faith? Why would I go to church? My entire life I watched all the people I loved pray, have faith, devotedly attend Church and yet, their lives continuously fell apart with more loss, sickness and death.
After my father died suddenly nearly three years ago in front of my entire family at my cousins wedding, my belief in prayer and faith – and hence religion – went right out the window and was buried about as deep as I could possibly fathom. For me it was the last straw, it was the end of my faithful journey and I was never looking back. No more praying, no more trusting in God and his will….no more faith. As far as I was concerned it was all bullshit and simply a way to control the masses and I was no longer having it.
I became a believer that things will happen – good and bad – regardless of whether you are a good or bad person, of whether you pray or not and regardless of you having faith in whatever you choose to have faith in. In a few words….I became miserable and resentful.
I lived like this for a few years and although at times, for short periods I began to rekindle my faith, events in my life quickly repressed it and I went back to living resentful and pessimistic. I knew I was miserable and unhappy but I refused to believe it had anything to do with my refusal to believe in prayer and faith, I simply linked it to “life sucks sometimes” so just deal with it and move on. As my misery grew I not only stopped nourishing my soul, I stopped nourishing my body, my mind and my heart as well. As time went on the emptiness inside me grew and the feelings of being divided inside overpowered my innate characteristics and therefore who I was. I was living in my body but in now way was I living for who I truly was. In my attempt to make sense of all the ‘bad’ things that had happened to me, I lost myself. Once again….I lost myself. Over the last year I would listen to various people tell me about their prayers, belief and faith and inside I thought “what a fool” does he/she really believe someone is listening and that it’s really going to make a difference if you pray or have faith in the grand scheme of things? I believe now that the answer is YES….it does make a difference and the person that’s listening is YOU!
Over the last year, my life had once again become overwhelming with a few specific situations that I felt were out of my control – and for a control freak that’s testing on so many levels – and I was spiraling into a bad place. I had tried everything until I realized that the only thing left was prayer and faith. I was in my kitchen on a random morning. My kids had left for school, my husband had gone to work and I was alone feeling dreadful and scared. I desperately needed to grasp onto something or someone for help but I didn’t believe anybody would understand. It was like everything I was trying to avoid had come full circle and slapped me in the face literally knocking me onto the ground. I found myself kneeling on my kitchen floor praying for a sign, an indication that the storm would pass, a signal, a warning, anything. As I sat there I replayed so many events in my life over the past few years and suddenly, I started to pay attention to myself. I began to realize that I had not been living true to who I was and realized that this was a large part of the reason I was unhappy and unfulfilled. For so long I had put myself and my true beliefs aside in an attempt to make others happy and it was for this reason that I was spiraling out of control. My fear of loss took over me once again. Much to my surprise, my prayer for a signal came to me but not in any way that I could have ever imagined. The signs came in form of calmness, of solace and in some way liberation. It came in a “knowing” that everything was okay simply because it was. Because I was!
To be clear, I do not equate my misery to my lack of religious beliefs…I equate it to my lack of nourishment for my soul, my heart, my mind and my body. I equate it to my lack of being true to myself and my beliefs and, if for some people that nourishment consists of religious rituals or formalities then that’s great for them but for me however…it does not.
I have slowly started to – cautiously – dabble in prayer and faith again. I have slowly started to believe in myself again and when the panic sets in I calm myself with prayer, belief and faith that everything will be okay. I remind myself that if God, the universe or life – whatever you choose to call it – can take away my father – who for me was my pillar, my strength and my courage – and allow me to go on, then nothing can take me down. What this means for me is that regardless of what we are faced with, we have the strength, courage and ability to go on within ourselves however, we must believe and have faith in our strength, courage and ability before it can become our reality. What you think about you bring about is such a simple reminder that your reality truly is in your hands. We have choices in life and for me, my choices demonstrated their consequences very clearly. Thankfully, I was able to recognize that I was the cause of my despair before it was too late.
And with that…I leave you with this quote
“Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to the body. How a person can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a person can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too.” ~ J.C. Ryle
With all my love…Eleni…xoxox