Mom asked me if I went to church today.
I didn’t have the guts to tell her
I don’t have the faith to pray.
I know she just plain wouldn’t understand
She’d be worried, concerned,
Certain I’d be damned.
To her, there is only one right way.
There is one question,
and one answer.
There is one right
and one wrong.
There is one creator
and one world.
Her life must seem so simple.
Often, she will say how she doesn’t understand how some people don’t believe in God.
Never do I tell her that I don’t understand how some people do.
Because I don’t want to worry her, and I already know what she would say:
“In a world where a little boy can be gunned down
by a neighborhood police officer
for playing with a borrowed toy,
Where women are raped
by friends they think they can trust
and no one does anything about it,
Where men are accused of crimes
they didn’t commit and forced to pay
a price that they don’t owe,
Where individuals are still identified,
first and foremost,
by the color of their skin.
Where mothers are crying
and children are dying
and fathers are trying their hardest just to keep their families off the streets,
Where do you find your hope, if not in our Savior?
Where do you find your peace?
What do you believe in?”
I thought I dreaded that question.
I thought I had no answer because
I was taught that there was only one answer,
and if you didn’t know the right one,
you were wrong.
I saw a picture once that presented two ways to produce nine: four plus five or three plus six. I showed it to my father. He said yes, but there is only one nine. I said no, there is nine, neun, neuf, and nueve. He said yes, but there is only one meaning. I said, but it’s a measurement, right? So there are still different nines, just different kinds of nines being measured; whether it’s nine apples or nine oranges, whether it’s nine white men or nine black men or nine children or nine Arabs or nine Jews or nine Christians… So not only is there not one answer, there’s not one question.
“What do you believe in?” she asks.
I realized that I don’t dread that question.
I realized that I had an answer because
there isn’t only one answer
so you don’t have to know the right one
and you aren’t wrong.
Because, you see,
I do believe, I really do.
It’s just from a different point of view.
I believe in smiling, and sharing some brightness
whose day might seem a little too dark.
I believe in families; of blood
and of choice,
that give you their strength when you can’t find your own.
I believe in loving: loving hard,
loving unconditionally, irrationally, uncontrollably.
I believe in music, the ultimate drug
that loses you
in it without you even realizing you’re gone.
I believe that you can find evil
in the soul
but you can also find goodness.
It is the home of a god but also of a devil and
the choice is yours
as to which you let run free.
I believe in heaven, not as a place but as a
state of mind
that can be found in yourself and in others.
I believe that the good outweighs the bad, and when that appears
to not be true,
the change may only come from one place: you.
I believe that truth does not
set you free,
that it proves that you already are free; from fear.
I believe that it doesn’t matter what happened yesterday because
it’s not today
and a fresh start is always possible.
I believe in tomorrow, and in the changes
it may bring
if you just give it a chance.
See, I believe in laughing,
and in connection.
I believe in magic,
and in action.
I believe in friendship,
and in equality.
I believe in miracles,
and in us.
I believe in writing,
in second chances,
and in youth.
I believe in experience,
and in freedom.
I believe in music,
and most importantly, in living.
To me, there is more than one right way.
There are many questions,
and even more answers.
There is wrong and there is right,
but they aren’t always black and white.
There is so much more to believe in
than a man and a book.
It doesn’t need to be simple.
Because there will always be bad things that happen, but
We live in a world where a college basketball team wears t-shirts
in support of the lives and deaths of people they’ve never met
just because it’s the right thing to do,
Where policemen rescue shelter dogs
that would otherwise be caged and killed
and give them a second chance at life,
Where a man uses his last dollar
finding a meal and a bed for a complete stranger
who has nothing to give in return,
Where a teenager who can’t swim
jumps into deep water
to save the lives of three struggling children,
Where people on a busy street
help a woman give birth in the freezing cold
to a baby who wouldn’t wait for an ambulance,
Where a man pays for the meal of
a family at a neighboring table because
he overheard their discussion of a “diagnosis”,
Where a little girl donates her Christmas presents
to a charity that will give them to children
who don’t have any of their own,
Where a young woman shares her coffee
and offers conversation to a lonely veteran
who just lost his wife,
Where a nine-year-old boy
pushes and pulls his paralyzed younger brother
through a triathlon he would never be able to finish on his own.
Where mothers are caring
and children are sharing
and fathers are bearing the weight of problems for others who couldn’t carry them alone.
There I find hope.
There I find peace.
That is what I believe in.