How do you find faith or belief ?

Hi,

I realise that coinciding a first-post within GD may be a risky proposition, but I have a question that I think may find direction herein (direction is what I’m looking for I suppose).

I’m a thirty-something male, married, good job that I hate, and no direction in life. Having spoken with various trusted people on the subject, the one thing that becomes clear is that maybe some religious faith or belief is what’s needed to help me onwards.

I do believe that some ‘higher spirit’ is omnipresent and responsible for many things - the trouble is I can’t relate this to any distinct belief or religion / following. This doesn’t give me the direction I’m looking for. If a religion is what’s needed, why should any one be more ‘true’ than any other, assuming I don’t actually have this in-built ‘faith’ that so many people seem to posess ?

I’m not saying that religion ‘is’ the answer I’m looking for, but I can’t go on for the next 30/40/50/60+ years on the basis that I just trudge through life not knowing my direction or ‘focus’.

If you’re religous, what gave you the faith that makes you so sure that your religion is the one true one (in the same way everyone else thinks theirs is), and if you’re not, then from where do you derive your direction in life ?

Speaking for myself, I’m not religious. In fact, I’m morally rotten. But I am a man of deep and abiding faith, which was a gift I did not seek. Nor did I want it. It happened when I dropped my intellectual guard for a moment and opened my heart. God is made of spirit, not atoms, and is not found with the intellect. Welcome to the board, Squaffle.

I think you simply need to find something you’re passionate about. That doesn’t have to be a religious experience. It may take going back to school part time, or trying your hand at a creative outlet you’ve always been interested in. Or politics. simplifying your life. Sometimes the noise of the technological world begins to drown out the beat of your personal drum.

The direction a life takes needn’t be some mystical, out-of-your-control apparition. You can actually drive the direction yourself. You just have to want it bad enough.

I do have a tendency to try and rationalise things, but I don’t know how to just drop it and open up. I certainly feel emotion and I’m not averse to crying if something really makes me sad, or laughing at something funny, although I really don’t do either of them as much as I used to.

I really wish I could just get the ‘spirituality’ but I kind of get the impression it doesn’t work that way for me.

The whole technology thing is starting to appear a bit of a demon for me. I’ve been heavily into it for about the last 10 years, and it’s been within that time that everything has slowly lost it’s colour. The trouble is, each time I try to move away from it, I’m drawn straight back, and I can’t seem to avoid it.

I also don’t have anything left to be passionate about. Originally I was passionate about computers, but that died as soon as I got stuck in the corporate world. I was passionate about having my wife be with me (long story, but she’s from a long way away, and it took 7 years), but now she’s here, there’s not as much drive there - although I still love her completely, and she’s the best thing that happened to me.

I try to bring myself into new ‘things’, to gain that feeling of passion, but nothing seems to work. I keep coming back to wondering what direction I should take.

I guess I used to be passionate about many things when I was younger, but that magic seems to have gone now.

Maybe there are so many people going through the same thoughts, but is this what life is about ?

I think a common mistake that people make is in thinking that “happy” is a natural state of being; it’s not. That’s not to say that misery is, either, but those are both extremes. For me, personally, contentment is very satisfying. In order to be content with my life, I have to make a conscious choice to focus on gratitude. When I start getting stressed out or resentful about something, I try to look at it from a point of gratitude. For instance: I have to wash the dishes again?? Haven’t I done that, like, 20 times already today? Becomes: well, if there are dishes to wash, that means that we have plenty to eat, and I’m thankful for that; also, I’m grateful that I have hot and cold running water in the kitchen, not the hassle my grandmother went through to wash dishes. It’s very difficult to remain less than content when gratitude is your focus. This may be easier and faster for you to implement than religion.

BTW, I’m quite religious myself, but I believe that, while my own particular religion is a good way for me to find Truth, everyone needs to find their own path. Mine might not be a good fit for you. This in no way makes me superior to you.

And welcome to the boards.

Welcome to the boards, squaffle.

If you belief in what you call a “higher spirit” then maybe the first step to take for you is to reflect on the quesiton why you believe this.
Then maybe you can come to a point where you can ask yourself how you would imagine the relation/connection between this “higher spirit” and yourself and the whole of creation.

I think that is a good start for getting a clearer picture of what exactly you are looking for. Then you could start reading about different religions and gather as much information about them as possible.
There are a lot of religoius members here. I guess they all would be most ready to answer specific questions you might have about their religion.

Salaam. A

Neither did I. It was an accident. My intention, in fact, had been rather hostile.

Well, emotion is the same as intellect in the sense that it is an electro-chemical hormone bath precipitated by synaptic discharges. God is not about intellect or emotion. He is about goodness.

I understand. We all have our own moral journey and our own subjective reference frame. I’ve often likened it to a golf swing, believe it or not. :slight_smile: The man who is trying to keep track of fourteen key positions of his elbow in relation to the angles of his grip is going to smack some trees with the ball. It is the man whose mind is on the target who makes the right swing.

From one board newbie to another, hiya. :slight_smile:

I swear that I’m not being a smart a** when I say this, but I’ve never understood what people mean when they say “my life lacks direction.” What do you mean by “direction?” Do you mean that you have no long-term goals? No hopes? No dreams? I’ve gone through nearly my entire adult life without long-term goals, and I don’t feel unfocused or directionless (nor do I feel particularly focused or direction-ful…oh my, did I just make up a word??) I was religious until about 5 years ago, but I didn’t notice any change of “direction” as a result of my change of heart. If someone were to ask me “where is your life going?” or “where are you going in life?” I truly wouldn’t know the answer. Nor would I care.

I, too, am thirty-something, though single and in a great job that I enjoy. But I’m in no hurry to buy a house or get a dog, because I really can’t say where I’ll be in 5-7 years. I’ll definitely stay put long enough to finish grad school, but who knows what will happen after that? There are other careers I’m interested in, other parts of the country/world where I might want to live, etc. Which is not to say that I’m flighty, or won’t be able to ‘settle down’ when the time feels right, it’s just that right now I feel my options are numerous.

You already have faith/belief. You said so. What you don’t have is religion, but I’m not sure you need it…you’re obviously looking for something, but because I don’t understand why/how you feel directionless I can’t imagine what that ‘something’ is.

I’m genuinely interested in trying to understand what you mean (or anyone means) by “direction,” so if you don’t mind humouring a complete stranger who probably cannot help you one bit, would you please try to explain it to me?

Try them.

No, seriously. Most religions are (obviously) very happy to answer your questions and let you sit in on a few ritual ceremonies (though there are some more reclusive types, they are a minority, and they usually still answer questions). Whether or not you find one that you really believe in isn’t as important as the journey you’ll take. At the worst, you learn a lot (almost every religion has SOMETHING that can be taken from it into secular life) and meet some interesting people. And don’t limit it to the ritual - take part in their activities. Lunches, trips, charity events. Even if you don’t find a god for your lifestyle, you can still find some direction and worth through good works.

The downside is that sometimes it can be uncomfortable. The local Shin Buddhist temple is almost entirely Japanese, so I can be a little uncomfortable sometimes (though they are very nice people). I’m having a little difficulty in tracking down a mosque around here, too, but mostly because I have no clue what is what and they all have Arabic names.

Hi Misnomer.

Yeah. By direction, I mean goals, hopes and dreams. It’s not entirely true to say that I don’t have hopes, but they’re all pretty altruistic (less racism, less war etc.), and I do have dreams but this is a part of the problem - in order to fulfil some of my dreams, I’d have to uproot my life, breaking everything that I currently have, and this would impact my wife in a huge way.

I suppose that a great part of the problem is that I’m just not where I want to be right now. I thought it was what I wanted (a high-paying computer job), but now that I’m here, I realise I don’t care for the corporate capitalistic world one bit - there’s politics and backstabbing and generally a whole load of crap that I’m not interested in.

I get home and have absolutely no creativity - the irony being that before I had the job, I never had the money to get heavily into some hobbies I enjoyed (computer graphics, music), and now that I have been able to get the gear, I have nothing to give.

I’ve talked with my wife about this, and she’s not sure how to help me. At the moment, I think I have to sell our house as I can’t afford to make any life changes if I keep it (the mortgage payments are high, and no other job around here could let me make them). The thing is, I don’t know that I can inflict such a change on my wife - she came here from abroad several years back purely to be with me, and gave up everything - I can’t ask her to give up everything again.

Even if I did, I really don’t know what exactly it is I’m looking for. I just know it isn’t what I currently have, or who I currently am.

A few other people have suggested this, and I can see the logic behind it. In fact, one person suggested because of the fact I try to rationalise things. A problem with the idea is that I currently have little to no focus, so I never actually see anything through to completion. I’ll be interested in something for a day, and then the next day I’ll be bored with it and on to something else. I find it very difficult to stay focused on one objective, which also makes my work a nightmare just now.

I’ve always been interested in the other religions, and I really would like to try some of them, but I’m also concerned that I may get dragged into some because I’m looking for something, and not for the ‘right’ reasons, if such things exist. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time in the christian church, and I remember how people could just float along for years because they were searching for their own faith. Although I’m after direction, I don’t want it to be searching for a direction.

I guess that another part of the problem (assuming it’s all one problem, and not many) is that I’m not keen to socialise too much. Don’t get me wrong, I think I like people - I just don’t want to be around them most of the time because… well, I don’t know why. It’s not that I have lots of things to be doing, although I certainly use that as an excuse… I just want to be alone, but not entirely alone.

I don’t know if any of the above will make sense to anyone else. It’s just what I seem to be going through.

I was an athiest all of my life. In June 1995 I got in my pickup to go to work, then, all of a sudden, it was July and I was restrained in a wheelchair in the Medical University of SC. My wife was there and explained that I had been hurt in an automobile accident and that june was gone. I had had a traumaic brain injury and it would be several years before I could function as an indivdual again. For the first couple of years my life was a living hell. I came to blelieve that if I could develop “faith in God” my recovery would be much easier. There were people available to help (not very well) and my Mother who was raised in the church feels that she failed me. In my struggle with faith I have found “hope in God” and it gets me a long way. I recently lost my wife who nursed me back from my accident and my “hope in God” appears to be sustaining me. (Just my 2 cents)

I think most people lose that intense zest for life when they get to a certain age. Experience sort of washes the color out of a lot of things. But I wonder if you might be depressed. I know that diagnosis is tossed around like a fucking softball these days, but sometimes there’s some truth to it. You might want to look into Prozac or something else. Maybe your spark will return. I also suggest you continue to find something that trips your trigger, so to speak. It may be that you just haven’t hit on the right thing yet.

You also might separate yourself from technology just ever-so-slightly. Give yourself two nights per week of no TV or computer. Surround yourself with art. Read, listen to music, see a play, watch a movie, make something with your hands. Just that little bit of discipline could make a difference in how you see your existence.

Squaffle, thanks for replying: when I re-read my post last night I felt that it came across a bit harsher than I intended, and I wouldn’t have blamed you if you’d dismissed me as either arrogant or a smart-ass…the tone of voice in my head while I was writing it was really quite friendly and sincere. Honest. {grin}

But why can’t you? As you say, she came here from abroad just to be with you: she obviously loves you a great deal and is willing to do almost anything to be with you, so why do you feel that you can’t ask her to help you become happy with your life?

Selling your house isn’t “giving up everything”…you’re not asking her to live in abject poverty, right? Sure, making that kind of a change is easier said than done, but if she were the one who was so fundamentally unhappy, wouldn’t you want to do whatever you could to help her? You say that you’ve talked with her about it but that she’s “not sure how to help” you…have you said the specific things to her that you’ve written here? About possibly making some huge changes, and how she might feel about them?

I’m not saying you should try to talk her into doing what you want, just that you might need to be more proactive with her (this is where I fumble the most, though, not knowing either of you). Don’t wait for her to suggest selling the house (just as an example), ask her what she would think – and have an honest discussion about it, even if it takes days.

Oh man, that sucks. Sorry. :frowning:

Is there any way for you to scale back the crappy job stuff just enough so that you do have something to give? Start a band at work (don’t laugh, I was in an office band for a while!), create a personal website, do a little volunteer work, anything? I think rediscovering your creative outlets will help you a lot, or will at least give you more energy or incentive to figure out the other stuff.

Ok, this is going to sound trite as hell, but knowing that you don’t know what you want is the first step toward figuring it out. I’ve been there, and sometimes feel that I’m still there, but I guess I’m mostly ok with the uncertainty. I believe that I’ll figure it out eventually, but that worrying about it too much is counterproductive…kinda like trying too hard to make new friends, or to get laid. :wink:

Maybe this is just the agnostic in me talking, but from what you’ve said I don’t think that religion is what’s missing in your life. I applaud you for looking into it as a possibility, and it can certainly never hurt to learn more about the various religions, but you don’t seem to be questioning your existing faith or beliefs…you’re questioning your job, and seem to be generally realizing that your outside no longer matches your inside (except in terms of the really important things, like your marriage).

I think you’re looking for purpose, not necessarily faith. Faith can supply purpose for some but I don’t think a lack of faith means a loack of purpose.

I’ve been struggling with this issue lately. I’m 37, female, unmarried without kids which is a situation that’s unlikely to change (I don’t want kids and I’m not much of a dater). My dad, who is big into those self-helpy life-coach type books, says the main motivators for most people are: love, children, money, career, fame. If none of those goals matter much to you (as they don’t particularly to me), what are you left with?

I keep thinking more and more about my grandparents. My grandfather died a few weeks before their 59th wedding anniversary and they had known each other since first grade. It used to annoy me the way my grandmother would wait on my grandfather (nothing abusive, it was just the old school wife fixes food stuff). But then I think of the impact she had on his life. She was the most important person in his life. Sometimes I wonder if that’s what the purpose of life is. It sounds small but maybe being the most important person in one person’s life is purpose enough.

There have also studies that suggest our happiness levels are relatively fixed and that we (humans) tend to overestimate the happiness (or unhappiness) a particular change will bring. I’m always mildly dissatisfied in life. I want to go back to school but I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll be mildly dissatisfied there too. Which is proabably good as dissatisfaction is a motivator but I need to recognize that it may not be the situation I’m in that’s causing the dissatisfaction.

Anyway, this is all rambling. Dunno if any of it is useful to you or not.

See, that’s what I was trying to talk about in my first reply: for me, those motivators are nice-to-haves (at best). Why do some people feel the need for ‘direction’ or ‘purpose?’ Why does there have to be some big meaning to life?

I don’t mean to imply that it’s somehow bad to feel that your life has direction or purpose, but it seems like sometimes, people (in general, not you) get carried away with thinking that it’s something they need in order to be happy.

Hi,

I’ll try to address the previous points - apologies for not quoting, but I get lost easily :rolleyes:

hlanelee: Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m happy for you that you have found support in faith. I can’t even begin to comprehend what it was like going through what you did - sometimes I feel that I’m just being stupid, as I’m not really suffering any problems, but yet I feel lost.

Kalhoun: I’ve been trying to keep off the computer more and more (except for work, where I’m stuck with it all day), and it does help. I still use it for ‘research’ quite a bit, but I’m not spending as long on it as I used to, so that helps. I’ve also got myself a guitar (I had one years ago), and I’m learnign that again, so some tactile time that is different. It’s too early to tell if it’s helping yet, but I know what you mean.

I thought of taking up painting, but I don’t think I’d actually know what to paint, as I don’t get inspiration enough. I’m thinking of writing poetry (I used to write a lot in my younger days) and starting by just writing literally what happened in the day - no creativity, but pure thoughts. Who knows.

Misnomer: Don’t worry about offending me - I’m looking for honest open thoughts to help me figure where I am.

I have spoken openly to my wife about selling the house, and she accepts why it would be necessary. The biggest hurdle is actually finding somewhere else we’d both be happy, but we are looking - I just find myself scared I guess, at the change, and the added initial stress it will place on both of us. I also wonder if it really is necessary, or other changes will make my life so I don’t hate my job so much.

I am considering some voluntary work, and I have plenty of contacts for that. I’m just tyring to get over my ‘fear’ - not sure that’s the right word, but - of being with other people so much. It’s not that I’m scared, I just don’t feel like it most of the time.

tremorviolet: It sounds like you’re certainly going through some similar things that I am, and talking to a few friends at work, they are too - maybe it’s not so uncommon as it feels sometimes.

I certainly don’t feel any additional needs so far as the life-coaches suggest (One of my friends has lent me some books, and they all point to these goals), but I can relate to just being important in someone’s life… it just doesn’t seem enough to keep me happy. I mean, I would never consider killing myself, or anything like that, as I always intend to be by my wife’s side, but I need something else to help drive me. Maybe a part of the problem is that she’s very easy going, and so I end up making a lot of the decisions. I need something to help me decide - or I’m scared of making the wrong decisions - I’m not sure.

I am planning to go and chat with a friend from work tonight, and my wife and I are going to visit some other friends in a couple of weeks - people who have been through similar things. I’ve also started reading about other ‘faiths’ and am finding myself quite interestd in the history of these things.

I’m also not convinced that faith is all that I’m looking for. I think it is more complicated than that, butI’m really finding all of the thoughts that everyone is giving, really beneficial, so thank you all.

This is exactly how I felt until about three years ago. (about the time my grandfather died) But lately I’ve been thinking about not wanting “sink below the surface without a ripple”. It seems kinda weird that millions of years of evolution have led to me living a quiet, comfortable life as a dead end.

But, I guess none of this stuff is particuarly new or original and what Squaffle and I are experiencing is the classic mid-life crisis existential angst. :slight_smile: When my dad started thinking about this stuff, he found wacky, new-age religion (Eckenkar) and that seemed to satisfy him. I just need to figure out what will work for me.

All organized religions are nothing more than elaborate con games.

If you are looking for a focus, try setting a goal to be the best person you can. Be honorable, trustworthy and nice to others. It’s amazing how much my life improved when I set conscious goals to be that way, and I believe yours will, too.

Oh come on. Have you personally met every pastor in America to find out the “straight dope” on their church? Most pastors are far from rich, usually end up working up to 60-80 hours a week helping their congregation and community, in tasks no one else would want to do; like conducting free dinners to feed the homeless; and visiting disabled and elderly people to bring cheer into their life as their confined to their bed 24/7. Yeah, they’re only in it for the money. :rolleyes:

I think I can only advise you to try to create love, rather than create, or find faith. Faith is a mystery. It comes as a flash or drifts in over years. I can’t tell you where to find it.

But love is something you can do. So, do it. Why? Well, opinions vary on a lot of issues surrounding religion, but almost everyone recognizes that love, freely given is a good thing. Now, you have to be careful not to let yourself get tempted to give flattery, or pity, or aggrandizement, or other pretended imitations of love. And you have to be careful to do it without seeking reward, or recompense. The real deal is pretty hard to learn to do, but it is possible. And, when you get into the habit of steering yourself that way, even the attempt is good exercise.

I personally think that this will bring you to the place within your own heart where the Lord will dwell, when you seek to know Him. But, even if I am wrong, what you will do is become the type of person that God would have you be, even if there is no God. And that ain’t half bad. Good is good. It’s better than evil. Even the trivial, petty evil that makes us butt in line, or look away from our brother who I suffering. Love brings your heart into the light of day. It makes you happy to be who you have become.

I heartily recommend it.

Tris