Finding Faith

        Faith is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. Truthfully, it makes me uncomfortable and a little bit wary. I’m never sure I have enough of it, yet it encourages me to take giant leaps in the dark, doubtful of my footing or final destination. I’ve come to think of faith as Hope’s red-headed step child. Hope is light and manageable, easily woven into political slogans and personal mottos. “Hope for the best, expect the worst.” Hope is resilient and can take a beating without too much collateral damage. It takes the lead without demanding commitment.

Faith on the other hand, requires everything I’ve got.

          Faith refuses to be taken for granted. It demands patience and cultivation. It requires selflessness. “Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith, ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (Alma 16:143) When hope fails life’s trials, faith takes the helm. It navigates through dark and stormy seas, relying on an inner compass that cannot be deterred. It is a quiet confidence that depends on a higher power, trusting in an unknown presence enveloping us in arms of love and grace. It releases control, saying with tear filled eyes, “Not my will but Yours.”

         This week our family lost Faith. During the biggest snowstorm of the season in blizzard conditions, Faith went missing. Let me explain. Faith came into our lives at a time when darkness and turmoil surrounded our family and despair refused to be escorted out. Faith is a golden retriever we took home as a puppy; it’s no coincidence she was named Faith before we met her, she is the answered prayer of a faithful grandmother seeking a friend. From the very first moment she brought light and joy into our home and was a constant companion to my grandmother before she died. She is the perfect family pet, gentle and playful, devoted and obedient. She is loved tenaciously. 

        When I found out she was missing a sinking feeling set in. A knot in the pit of my stomach took hold and wouldn’t let go. It was as if all of the light and happiness she had brought into our lives was being sucked up into a vacuum of despondency. “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” (Helen Keller) I knew the probability of us finding our golden retriever was slim to none. The snow was falling heavily and would cover any tracks she might leave. Her friendly nature and pedigree would likely discourage anyone from returning her if she had been picked up by strangers. Coyote and bobcat sightings were frequent, the neighborhood dogs bullies.

We expected the worst.

“If fear is cultivated it will become stronger, if faith is cultivated it will achieve mastery.” (John Paul Jones) It seemed insane to hope for the safe return of our beautiful dog, so we turned to faith. We printed out posters, called the local shelters, put ads on Craig’s List. But mostly, we prayed. And so did our friends. “God, you care about all of your creation. The lilies of the field down to the hairs on my head. I know you love Faith. Please protect her and keep her safe.”
        Five days and twenty inches of bitter snow later, we heard a faint whimper and scratch beneath the deck. Covered in mud, unable to move, our dog had been silently trapped right under our noses. Frantically digging and tearing up the boards we were able to rescue our beloved dog, miraculously still alive. “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” (St. Augustine)

        The safe return of Faith is just the first miracle. That God used a dog named Faith to grow our trust and belief in His awesome Power is the true miracle. I know there will be times in my life when circumstances seem hopeless. I know Despair is an unwelcome guest stalking my front door waiting for the right opportunity to sneak in and make himself at home. But I also know that fear crumbles in the presence of faith and love has far more transformative power than hatred. I know that trust is not naive or foolish, and there is nothing false about hope.

The truth is, we didn’t find Faith. Faith found us.


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