Over the years I have learned that my faith is rooted in relationships. I do not have the strength or spiritual practice to access my faith life outside of community. My faith is an ongoing experience of both unconditional love and complete powerlessness. It is these interpersonal experiences that force me to admit that there is something greater than me in the world, and that ultimately, I need God.
The experiences that sustain my faith range from loving my children, to helplessly watching people tormented by mental illness. My children provide me an unbelievable capacity to love, as I am sure many parents experience. But this love also creates a persistent fear for the well-being of my children that makes me uncomfortably vulnerable, and leads me to the feet of Christ.
Likewise, working daily with people suffering from homelessness, mental illness, and addictions, I enter into ongoing relationships with people who fall through the cracks of society. Even as I write this there is a woman standing outside my office, screaming at me about the children that were taken away from her. At this point of escalation, there is nothing that I can possibly say or do to calm her. I am powerless to alleviate her pain or fix her circumstances. Over time, I am only able to sustain myself in this work through acknowledging my need for God in the face of suffering.
It is tempting to call out to Christ for the things we want, like material goods and social stature. However, through relationships, I have found that an authentic faith life is built by inviting Christ into our need, vulnerability, and powerlessness. I am called to be honest about my personal needs, and allow Christ to serve me as my shepherd.
Andrew Noethe '98, '09MNA