Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.
A foreign observer of my little home Hanukah service via Skype over a year ago said that it must be nice to have "something to believe." I know that person has beliefs but loved the focus on incorporating a set of beliefs and traditions into one's life. I really think that statement captures the essence of faith. People who learned their religion through years of family and institutional training may take their beliefs for granted but still find security therein. People who chose their religions or belief systems as adults create a sense of peace for themselves.
There is more than group belonging where faith is concerned. There's a joke that "you can be Jewish with no beliefs at all." I think anybody can go through the motions of any religious group with a lack of understanding and meaning or with the meditative peace of living a mantra. Whether one pursues ritual or not, the sense of faith in something bigger than oneself, some principles, ideals, spirit or personhood, doesn't have to be anthropomorphic. Most intellectually sophisticated adults don't take the pearly gates, heaven and hell, God the Father, and most Bible details literally. Same with non-Christian religions. They understand the spirit and ideas of belief systems and incorporate the awe and ethics, the teachings from the myths or truths (if they see it that way), into their beings and lives.
Having faith doesn't solve all one's problems. It doesn't mean every prayer receives an answer. It means there is a consistent sense of hope, of fairness or of meaning. I've complained before that hermeneutical or circular thinking, in which one accepts an interpretation based on what one wants to see in some coincidence or data, is all too common and illogical in psychology and religion. The flip side of that complaint is that taking life as all material without some special connections within the self, between people, and beyond people can feel shallow. While I don't believe that my friends' new car came about because they prayed or that someone got sick because "that's how it was meant to be," I do respect the faith that meaning happens because people seek wisdom and depth. People want something or someone bigger than themselves and they create it or find it.
What's wrong with finding God in the giving of bikes, computers and phones to poor kids during this season? How about the warm, friendly connection in social media of people from supposed enemy countries, which someone told me about? We all know about finding a holy aspect to nature. I like the holy aspect of love and that amazing inner resilience and ability to self-soothe within our inner souls.
Faith in faith, you ask? Maybe so, but it sure beats nothing.