Is It Possible To Return To The Faith Of Your Childhood?

Poet Christian Wiman penned these words in his book My Bright Abyss about how faith shifts as we move through life:

In fact, there is no way to ‘return to the faith of your childhood,’ not really, not unless you’ve just woken up from a decades-long and absolutely literal coma. Faith is not some half-remembered country into which you come like a long-exiled king, dispensing the old wisdom, casting out the radical, insurrectionist aspects of yourself by which you’d been betrayed. No. Life is not an error, even when it is. That is to say, whatever faith you emerge with at the end of your life is not going to be simply affected by that life but intimately dependent upon it, for faith in God is, in the deepest sense, faith in life – which means that even the staunchest faith is a life of great change. It follows that if you believe at fifty what you believed at fifteen, then you have not lived – or have denied the reality of your life…Faith is not some hard, unchanging thing you cling to through the vicissitudes of life. Those who try to make it into this are destined to become brittle, shatterable creatures.

Agree or disagree? Why do you say so?

2 thoughts on “Is It Possible To Return To The Faith Of Your Childhood?

  1. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    This is a beautiful quote. I think in order to return to the faith of our childhood, we would have to actually return TO our childhood, which isn’t possible. Even if we do return, by choice, to former practices or places, we bring with us all we’ve learned and gained and lost, so the faith is going to be different because we are different.

    I don’t know if this comment will allow a link — but I just wanted to draw attention to this beautiful poem by John Blase, “My Father’s Coffee.”
    In this poem the son has moved away from his father’s simpler and less exotic preferences,; he’s tried new things, tried to interest his father in these new things, with limited success. But now he returns, middle-aged, humbler, choosing to yield to his father’s ways because he loves his father and maybe because he realizes now that he doesn’t have to be right or better all the time. That’s something that midlife can teach us — to be more accepting and embracing and to realize ours is not the only right way. Maybe it relates to faith as well as to coffee.

    • ThePerennialGen says:

      That poem is lovely and arresting and evocative. It captures the way parent-child relationships change and challenge both parties. Folgers or gourmet – the beautiful reality is that the two are drinking coffee together. Love receives a cup of Folgers in Jesus’ name.

      Thanks for sharing this here, Jeannie!

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