Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.
There are songs that will never leave, songs we forget about, and songs that will never leave. One such song is “A Puzzlement” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I. The song popped up on my iPod the other day, and as I listened to it I started to consider the lyrics. I listened to the song a few more times, and that led me to seriously thinking about what we believe as kids growing up in Christian families.
To illustrate my point, I’ll share some of the lyrics here:
“When I was a boy, world was better spot
What was so was so. What was not was not.
Now I am a man…world has changed a lot
Some things nearly so, others nearly not”
“When my father was a king, he was a king who knew exactly what he knew
And his brain was not a thing forever swinging to and fro and fro and to
Shall I then be like my father and be willfully unmovable and strong?
Or is it better to be right—or am I right when I believe I may be wrong?”
“There are times I almost think nobody sure of what he absolutely know
Everybody find confusion in conclusion he concluded long ago
And it puzzle me to learn that though a man may be in doubt of what he know,
Very quickly he will fight…he’ll fight to prove that what he does not know is so”
Whether you like the musical or not, you have to admit that this song is pretty deep…well, in comparison to the rest of the songs. I mean, those lyrics talk about a man who recognizes that the world is more complex than it used to be. When we were kids, life seemed pretty simple, didn’t it? What was so was so, what was not was not. Once we grew up, all of that changed. Considering all of the ideas that surround us, we’re faced with the age old question of whether we ought to stay true to our beliefs or adopt new ones.
And…this song pretty much summarizes a problem I had with Christianity for a long time—and in many ways, still do. I found that people born and raised in Christian families didn’t explain their faith in God in any way other than “that’s what I grew up believing.” When I started college, I realized that most of what I believed I got from my family and teachers, but not because I believed it for myself. I could only name a handful of people that, after watching them, made me think “oh yeah, they know what they’re talking about.” With everyone else, it seemed more like they were going through the motions. Whenever I went to church, I felt like I was just going through the motions, and it really bothered me.
An example I could name to illustrate how I felt about Christianity was one day on the New England Saints trip, when we attended a Unitarian Universalist church. When we discussed the experience later that night, everyone talked about how they felt uncomfortable being in a church that didn’t have all the answers. I felt myself growing frustrated with everything they said. How could they be sure that what they believed was right and what everyone else believed was wrong? How could they be positive that they had all the answers? Even though I didn’t doubt God’s existence, there were often times where I found myself wondering “What makes us right and everyone else wrong? What if we’re wrong?”
Then a couple things happened. The first was in the last week, when I watched The Perfect Stranger and Another Perfect Stranger. They were somewhat mediocre, but they discussed other religions, the difference between faith and religion, and other issues related to Christianity. I still had a lot of questions, but I felt relieved in feeling like so many others were answered.
And then today, I stumbled on a couple of verses. The first was Hebrews 11:6, which says “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” The second was in John 20:29, when Jesus tells Thomas “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
What I gather from those experiences is this: Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, we have nothing to lose by believing in something bigger than ourselves. Being a person of faith doesn’t mean having the ability to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he exists. It means having a relationship with God, getting to know him through his word, and trusting him even if we don’t completely understand him. Faith is defined as a “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” In truth, I doubt anyone will ever have all the answers—if we could, we’d probably have it all figured out by now. But if we had everything figured out, how would that strengthen our faith in God? I still have a lot of questions, but if I want to be able to exercise trust, then maybe there’s no better time to start than now.
Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”
Photo Source: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/change/faith/