According to Hill, faith is a human act of will and a gift from God, involving deep emotions and trust in ourselves and others, and requiring us to be involved with other groups and communities. As it stands today, I believe that I can place myself in the middle range of Stage 4 of faith development. However, I wasn't always this confident in my relationship with God. Until recent changes in my life, there is no doubt in my mind that my faith could be categorized only in low Stage 3. Hill points out that faith is about the human response to experience, and after several turning points in my life I agree.
The beginning of my faith journey can be described as rocky, at best. Each Sunday morning my dad would stay home just so that he could catch every possible second of Sunday football coverage. I wasn't even exactly sure who God was; my mom just told me I had to go to church "'cause I said so." This upset me, especially as a child. Furthermore, the example that my father set for me was far beyond comprehension. Who was he to tell me to go to church when he didn't even go himself? For a long time, I lost trust in my parents because I was being led on so many different paths.
Thus, without an option, I was attending religious classes each Sunday morning and listening to what I thought were boring and useless sermons. I was never given a choice; I had to believe. I felt I had no freedom in what I could think or believe; it was all predetermined for me. I became frustrated and, after memorizing what I needed to memorize, I got confirmed and stopped going to church. About six months later, our church was in sudden turmoil: our council asked our pastor of 8 years to resign his position, or he would be "let go." Most people in the congregation were shocked, and our church began to crumble. Attendance cut in half as we searched for a new pastor. After nearly two years, our congregation finally connected with a wonderful pastor. I gradually began attending church again, and quickly became close to my new pastor. He has helped me to understand the wonderful ways of God, more importantly, in a manner that allows me to think and believe as I choose. For me, believing and having faith in God was as simple as being encouraged to think as an individual, and being told that I didn't have to view things in the same way as everybody else.
My pastor isn't the only person who has had an influence on the development of my faith. My boyfriend for...