My Faith: Why I Cannot Do Otherwise

I wrote the following last week . . .

I’ve been thinking about my presence on Facebook. As my page has gotten bigger, I’ve met more and more lovely people. Unfortunately, a few folks have said some unkind, sarcastic or even abusive things on my page. It got so bad the other night that I thought about changing the way I talk to you. Maybe, I thought, I should try harder to build an audience of potential readers by developing more of a persona. Maybe I should not be so raw and real all the time. Those of you who’ve been around for awhile know the good, the bad, and for sure the crazy about me. If I’m struggling, I talk about it.

But I’m about so much more than my struggles. I’m about joy and persevering and romantic ideals and kindness and seeking the good. After all, if I’m running from Hell, I’m heading towards Heaven, right?

But heck, I thought, maybe I need to view this as a business. I should conduct more giveaways and promotions and use my influence to make a dollar . . .um no. Hell no. I honestly believe my writing will sell on its own, without me wasting my time and your time with whine-beg-sellathons.

Then, I thought, maybe I should put on some armor and stop talking about my personal issues so much. Maybe it’s time to put on another one of my many personas. But you know what? I’m done with armor, personas and masks. I don’t have the desire or energy to hide behind some fake persona. I’m daring to write and live in my own clothes, using my own words, and I refuse to compromise.

When I thought about it, I realized that some people just aren’t going to like me. And you know what? I like being liked, but at what price? I mean, should I change how I act just so more people will like me? No. I must take heart, respect myself and do my best with the gifts, talents and imperfections that God has given me. And if some people don’t like the authentic me, then that’s okay. Really—it’s okay.

I’m grateful for those of you who enjoy following my stuff. I’m also grateful to those people who gave me a shot and decided I wasn’t their cup of tea. Sometimes I learn the most from the times I’ve failed or, in this case, from the people who have not stayed with me. I’ve learned that I can’t change what I do or how I act to keep from failing or to convince someone not to leave me.  I’m going to keep being E. L. Farris (hey I love going third person lol). I will keep doing my best as a writer and as a human being. That’s all any of us can do.


The thing is, I’ve been thinking about a lot more than my presence on Facebook lately. I never thought I’d be a born-again Christian. Seriously, I never thought I’d say the words. I never thought it. I’m a woman of reason–really, I am. But I have always been profoundly religious, too.

I grew up in a family where there was much religion but almost no faith.  More than faith, religion or even reason, there was confusion and noise and anger. Amid all of that, I searched for Him, but when I walked around studying the Bible alone, they laughed at me. Called me a wanna-be Saint, a pretender, a phony, and an idiot.

My birth family calls themselves Catholic. I left the Catholic flock but since then, I did try to return. I fell on my knees and confessed my sins to a priest . . . I even confessed the sins done unto me. Despite the best efforts of that priest, the Catholic church would not take me back unless I recanted my marriage in a Protestant church. I could not do this, and so they cast me out.

That made me want to give up on religion. I didn’t, but I wanted to.

I kept searching.

I have no idea what’s really the right religion for everyone else. Each one of us needs to find his or her own road, and wherever it leads you, I hope that God’s love will be with you. Always. All I know is that God never gave up on me, even when I wanted to give up on finding Him.

I’ve been searching for so long. I’ve been searching for so freakin’ long, and every time I was close, real close, something or someone knocked me off the road I was on. But He never left me.

What pains me today, and I’ll be honest with you–the pain of rejection cuts way too deep still–is that I will lose friends. I think I may have already lost some. It hurts. It hurts that even as I will not judge where they walk or what road they’re on, they will hear the words “Born-Again” and slam the door shut on me. I’ve lost so much in this life. I don’t want to lose anymore or anyone.

It hurts. Because I cannot do otherwise. I cannot choose between friends and my faith. It simply is no choice. I’m quoting Martin Luther, by the way. When he attached his Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences to the Church Door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517, he explained, with an anguish I can all too well understand, that he could not do otherwise. Here are his words:

Unless I am convinced by Scripture or clear reasoning that I am in error – for popes and councils have often erred and contradicted themselves – I cannot recant, for I am subject to the Scriptures I have quoted; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. It is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against one’s conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. So help me God. Amen.

Like Luther, I stand where I stand. I am impelled to state my faith. It will sadden–it does sadden– me if I lose friends because of this, but this is my faith. I cannot apologize for it. I should not–must not–apologize it. My conscience requires otherwise. As Martin Luther said, so help me God.

56 Comments on “My Faith: Why I Cannot Do Otherwise

  1. I’m a new Christian (I suppose a prodigal Christian) and this post was extremely insightful and helpful to me. I’ve been struggling with some of those same issues and your words both comforted and strengthened me. Thank you!

    • Mark–Welcome!! It is wonderful to meet you and to hear that you’re struggling with some of the same issues. Why is it that it helps to know we’re not alone? I wonder about that . . . and then the doorbell rings with more trick-or-treaters and the answer, or even the question, seems less clear. What I do know for sure is that it makes me feel good to know that my words provided some comfort to you! I hope you’re enjoying the evening! ~el

  2. I hid my Christianity for a long time—I denied God. I thought I was born again at that point, but I was not. Once I was truly born again, there was no way on this earth that I could deny Him any longer, so I stopped trying. I mention God all of the time, in my posts, on Facebook, in conversations. I am not trying to shove anything down anyone’s throat, but He is so much a part of me—He lives IN me–that it does not even cross my mind to alter what I say, or write. The beauty of it is that the people in my life now are the real keepers. I do not separate myself from others—we are not supposed to–but at the same time, if push comes to shove, I will choose God over anyone on this planet….anyone. I love you and I love this post. I have said it before, but I will say it again, after the pruning period, the right people will come to you and you will be amazed! Life will still be life—but the mindset behind living it, and your support system, will make is a far more joy-filled experience! Xoxoxo

    • I love how now you stopped trying to deny him, my friend! I hope I can get to that point sooner than later where I’m not self-conscious about my faith. And yes, yes, the people who stay are the real keepers. And I do know you’re right re the pruning stage. I just wish I could stop nicking myself with the pruning gear, but what can you do, eh? Much love to you!!

  3. Just keep on being you. I love you for everything you are and will be, El. Your posts always make me think, question or smile. Thanks for that. I’ve realized lately that I will never please everyone, nor should I bother trying. No matter what I do, there will be people who don’t agree or start to judge. It’s okay. I don’t have time for that negativity anymore.

    • Your love and acceptance mean bunches to me Darla–and Iove you for the real you as well. I also love that you realize you will never please everyone and you’re at peace with not trying. I’m working on it, but I have a ways to go!

  4. You are a great example to those who struggle with compromising the same convictions. Like you, I’d rather have real. Raw. Slap me in the face truth. In love. There is no denying you love wholly. Just go with it 🙂 It’s beautiful on ya.

  5. I, am, a Christian. My parents are pastors since I was a little girl.
    Great post 😉

  6. I used to be—and still am sometimes—a people-pleaser. Family, friends, everyone. But I’ve learnt it the heard way that I am no one special, hence not meant to be someone liked by all. People not liking me is nice in a way that it reinforces the fact that I am an opinionated person.
    Some cliches are actually true, and being yourself is one of them. A thought-provoking piece, El!

    • Hello my friend, and thank you so much for stopping by! And yes, gosh, I too struggle with the people-pleasing component of my personality, and have also learned/am learning that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m unique, for better or for worse–me.
      I agree re that particular cliche! Hope you’re having a lovely day!

  7. Of all the words you have ever written, my dear, DEAR friend, THESE are the best, most enduring. You are a sster to my heart, and I cherish you. Because I do not often address things religious/spiritual either on my blog, Twitter or FB, I do have a statement of faith or somesuch posted at those places. May God richly bless you now and always, in particular for clearly stating that you belong to Him.

    • Dear Trece: aw, you are so, so sweet to me, sister! I cherish you too! And it is hard to state our faith–I’m so proud of you for posting a statement of same on your blog/social media sites. Many blessings to you as well! xoxo

  8. i love you El and am so proud of you for stepping out in faith. And the ones who are uncomfortable with this “new” you will see that you are just a better you. Aren’t we all just trying to be better everyday? Eventually, they will come around or be left behind to figure things out for themselves and miss out on being a part of an exceptional person’s life. Perhaps your example will plant the seed for their own journey.

    • Thank you so much for your kindness and love and support, my friend! And thank you–I am a better me–the thought of that makes me smile, not with pride, but with gratitude. Golly, I have so much to be grateful for, including an incredibly patient, loving God! And you know what? So many other people’s journeys have influenced mine for the better. It would be an honor to pass along that good favor. Stay blessed!! xoxo

  9. Please never think I have either forgotten or deserted you. Blogger/WordPress are still only allowing me to see one post in two or three. A pox on both their houses.
    Being true to yourself is so much more important than having more friends. Easier said than done. However, at the end of the day the person you live with, the person who is always with you is you. And even that person can indulge themselves with some negative and nasty self talk. Which means you certainly don’t need any more.
    The you that leaps from the page is a caring, talented you. Who I am very grateful to have found. Keep on being yourself. I will keep on trying to view your posts and trying to comment on the ones I view.

    • I am always, always overjoyed to see your name dear friend. I appreciate your kindness and your judgment-free approach. I know of what you write re being true to ourselves ranking as so much more important than holding into friends, and the difficulty of applying that to our own lives. And as far as “And even that person can indulge themselves with some negative and nasty self talk. Which means you certainly don’t need any more,”–yes!!!

      As far as your last paragraph–thank you so much!! I am so very grateful to have found you too! Thank you for your support and efforts to follow me!!

  10. Being disliked for who you are is better than being liked for who you are not. Because when you aren’t yourself, YOU are still not liked, and perhaps that chance is gone.

    • Hey Teresa! You know, I’ve never been able to answer that particular question. My daughter often comes home after having a rough day at school and asks me, “Why was so and so mean to me?” Sometimes I shrug, and tell her I don’t know but I do know how much I love her. For the life of me, I don’t understand why some people act the way they act. All I can do is to try to be the best woman I can be.

      • I heard something very wise many years ago that I think explains it: “Hurting people hurt people.” Most folks wound others out of their own pain. This helps me a lot when I am wounded. I try and use this truth to motivate me to love and goodness towards them. Not sure how I’m faring on that quest, but… 😉 Grace and peace to you, El! Love your blogs.

  11. I just enjoy you so much! I am learning about you through your writing since we haven’t had the benefit of meeting in person. I love your true and very real struggle with being your authentic self and yet trying not to hide behind the veils that society and even our own families suggest that we wear. This is something I think everyone can relate to! Better to be yourself and be surrounded by those who really know you than pretend to be someone and be surrounded by strangers who think they know you.

    • Thank you so much Sharon!! I appreciate what you wrote above very much, especially since I’m just as I seem in my writing!! Thank you also re the veils that we would hide behind, and the rather constricting expectations imposed by others–constricting, of course, only if we allow it. And yes, yes absolutely–better to be yourself and be surrounded by real friends, who really know you!! Amen!! xoxo ~el

  12. Wow, El, I’m just surprised when I hear of the negative stuff you’ve received on your FB page. I just can’t imagine it, but you share it, so I know it is true. So sad. But, indeed, being who you are and standing by what you believe is of most importance, especially as you stand to be in the limelight as a writer. People must know the real you…that is how we truly connect. As for “coming out” on religion…I was raised as an athiest, or the bare minimum, an agnostic, but always my heart yearned for God as a child. I treasured Bibles I received for Christmas and always pulled them out of the nightstands to feel the thin, crinkly-sounding papers when my family stayed in hotels. Then, after going through a teenage pregnancy through which I gave the baby up for adoption, I thought I might lose my mind from grief, and my Christian step-mom helped me begin to seek God’s healing by bringing me to church with her. This was the beginning of a long journey that now finds me leading worship on a regular basis in whatever church I attend-ME?!-it’s still baffling, ha. My family, well, they’ve accepted my Christianity, although they still do not believe. I had to trust God, trust in Jesus, and not be ashamed. It’s been hard…and even just as recently as the past few months I find myself fighting God’s presence and thinking “Who am I kidding? I’m not meant for religion…” However, He always finds a way of bringing to my knees, and then back home. Love ya….you know? Well, I do! You provide throught-provoking reality in your posts…I’m so grateful to be one of your readers. XOXO-SWM

    • Good morning dear friend! I’m so grateful to have you as one of my readers too, by the way–and to be one of yours! I loved reading about your own journey of faith. I think God has a very good understanding for those of us who struggle in that journey–after all, who loves Him more than those of us who must keep getting back up and finding our way back to Him? Someone else explained it to me better . . .C.S. Lewis wrote something like this, so that’s sort of paraphrased.

      Anyway . . . sheesh, I’m rambling. You wrote about cherishing Bibles as a child–I too have loved their sound and feel. I have always smiled when others quoted Scripture (with exception to some of the stuff in the Old Testament). And as far as losing your mind from grief, and finding healing through God–I understand, my friend. I really do.

      Much love to you!

  13. I love the way you have touched upon the difference between religion and faith, religion and reason. I just wish to add that there is nor right or wrong in the choice you make. Some people choose friends over faith and that is equally acceptable.

    • Thank you so much Raunak! And yes, I understand that some people feel as though they must choose friends over faith . . . or other principles, and I reckon there is always a time and place for that sort of choice!

  14. El it is a strange place you find yourself in not teetering but falling to you. I learn from you all the time, am inspired by you all the time. Whether I agree with you or not you cause me to stop and think, pull back and consider my reasoning. Being you is the best you can be and the only thing anyone should wish from you. Anyone who asks different from you, well they are not in the end looking for the best for you or in you.

    I love you.

  15. I’ve also struggled with the decision to remain true to who I am…and it is a decision. Sometimes it feels as though it would be easier to filter what I publicize but I’ve come to the conclusion that I would only end up just the same as all those people who try to bring me down because what I say threatens to expose emotions they want to hide. Hiding behind anything is toxic for me as it brings me right back to those critical moments in my life where pretending allowed me to continue to be a victim. If someone doesn’t like what I have to say, I need to reassure myself that it’s their problem, not mine. (Admittedly, it’s hard to get over the uncomfortable feeling of knowing someone dislikes me.) As for religion, I’m Jewish and struggled my whole life to find a way to serve God that fit me. How I do that today is not always accepted by close family and friends but I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s MY life, MY God, MY right. I only have to answer to ME. And you know what? After hanging in there for a while, the family and friends who faded gave way to stronger bonds between me and my immediate family unit and unexpected friends I only found because there was room in my life for them.
    Love your journey, love your style, love your strength.
    You are awesome because you are YOU.

    • I grinned when I read this both the first and the second time . . . and I had to think about it before I wrote back. For sure it would be easier to filter what we said, in some respects at least, but man, it takes so much unproductive energy to contemplate, weigh and consider how each thing we say or write will be taken by those who receive it. The process is exhausting and in fact weakens me, if that makes sense. And as far as hiding taking you back to feeling like a victim–just amen. I completely get what you mean, and one of the keys to my own healing is to refuse to propagate more lies. It wasn’t our fault that we were victimized, but a big key towards getting away from victimhood is facing our past with our eyes open, and telling our story with our heads held high.

      Carry on my friend. And I love your journey and style as well!! xoxo

  16. Your faith, openness and authenticity are some of the most beautiful things about you, El. Please keep sharing and inspiring us. Naysayers spout criticism because of issues they have, not you. *hugs*

  17. There is only good to be found when one realizes they have something to give them strength.

    Friends need not agree on faith. I am thrilled you are finding your way. It’s not my way, but luckily divergent ideas don’t always require diverging paths. There is much to be shared and learned on our journeys. 🙂

    • Thank you so much Kelly! You are such a solid, awesome, respectful friend–I’m so grateful to count you as one of my friends! And I agree 100%–we need not agree on faith or politics or all things. The key is mutual love and respect!! Have a great weekend my friend! xo

  18. I honestly said “Oh no you won’t!!!” out loud when you wrote that perhaps you needed to take on a persona. Nobody is liked by everyone, El. No one ever will be. Even God isn’t liked by everyone! (There’s the understatement of the century.) God has given you an incredible gift of reaching people who need you, and you do that by being you. Don’t ever waste that gift. As for losing friends by being a born-again Christian, I hope you’re wrong. You were a Christian yesterday and the day before and the day before that. Naming yourself as such doesn’t make you any more of a born-again Christian than you already were. We show our faith through our actions, not through our labels. Be strong in yourself and in your faith, my friend.

    • That made me grin when I read it, Laura!! And you’re right, “Oh no I won’t!!” As far as God not being liked being the understatement of the century–that made me laugh at loud (it was a wry laugh). Thank you so much re having a gift . . . I do feel blessed that I am able to do what I love doing for a living.

      Ah . . . faith through actions. I think of that often, especially on mornings when the kids try my patience!

  19. Dear, dear, El, there are so many things I love in this post, and all of them lead to you. You are at the heart, broken and vulnerable but healed and healing, like all of us. Thank you for sharing your core so willingly and honestly; it is what makes you who you are and so easy for me, and so many others, to love you. xoxo

    • Awww Transitioning Mom–so good to see you!! Yep–I will totally accept the concept of being vulnerable but also healing! And thank you for making me feel safe enough to share–having friends like you makes it so much easier to speak and write my truth!! Much love to you!!!

  20. I have struggled with the same thing at times, do I do more promotion and contests or stay true to what I do – just tell stories about life. And like you, i have faith, I’m a practicing Catholic. I feel just awful, horrible, mortified about the church turning it’s back on you. They still do some really screwed up things, and for that I am truly sorry. But you keep doing what you need to do. And no, not everyone will like you. I know I struggle with that “people pleaser” thing too. But I have resigned myself to the fact that it’s impossible. You do you. xoxo

    • Morning Madge! Thank you so much re the church–I have so much tenderness toward the the church of my youth, and more than any remaining bitterness, feel love and peace and a gentle tinge of regret. I am so, so happy that you are at home in your faith.

      Ahhh-the people pleasing element of our personalities–groan (lol). Good on you for reaching that place of resignation that I’m still searching for–and much love to you!

  21. Well, wordpress is at it again, dang it! Tried to leave a comment, had one beautifully crafted, hit post and it disappeared into cyberworld. So this, I’ll keep short. One of your tags spoke volumes to me. One word seems to sum up your struggle. “Tolerance”. Wish more could practice that, wish more recognized how important it is…

    • Susan!!! So good to see you here my friend!! And as far as perfect, beautiful comments deleted once finger connects with “Post” button–GAH!! I feel your pain, lol. And yes–tolerance is a word that I wish entered all of our vocabularies more–including my own!!

  22. El, I don’t want to take up space on your blog explaining where I came from and where I’m going. But I will say this, you have given me COURAGE BEYOND MEASURE to stand firm in my convictions.To stop wavering. Stop being lukewarm. I truly believe God led me to you. Thank you for being bold so that others may follow!

    • I’m always happy to see you here and elsewhere, my friend! And thank you. Thank you so much for sharing that with me . . . I know for a fact that I seem to find the people I need at the exact right moment. Much love to you!

  23. “Each one of us needs to find his or her own road, and wherever it leads you, I hope that God’s love will be with you. Always. All I know is that God never gave up on me, even when I wanted to give up on finding Him.” We can not please everyone. There will always be people who are unhappy and mad with the world. We can only do our best to share what is good and hope that they share the same. God does wonders though and you’ll never know which one you’ll help feel inspire with the faith you share. Keep on believing and sharing….we’re here to share the light of your thoughts.

  24. Love your voice and authenticity.

    I, too, am a CHRISTIAN. If somebody was pissed off aobut that, I’d DE-Friend them on my facebook…but quite seriously, people are respectful & cool.

    Everybody is seaching for something. Right?

    I am pleased I found my something. Sounds as if you did, too 🙂

    Greeeeeat Post. Xx

  25. El, what you believe is yours to believe. Anyone that mocks it or refuses to be your friend because of it is not worthy of the word friend. There are many paths to enlightenment and to living a good life. As long as you do not harm others, your beliefs should be respected. We should all agree to disagree, but respect and courtesy should remain. Do what works for you. 🙂

  26. “I don’t have the desire or energy to hide behind some fake persona.”

    I couldn’t agree with this statement more. I generally hate talking about subjects that I know damn well are divisive, like politics or religion… but… At the end of the day, it’s just easier to be who you are, and say what you need to say. There will always be people who like you, and there will always be people who don’t like you, just like in real life. (And that was some bastardization of a Susan Orlean speech on social media, but she’s definitely right.)

    And your writing DOES stand on its own, which makes social posturing completely unnecessary.