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Am I in the driver’s seat?

Bianca Almada | Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In true Notre Dame fashion, let’s talk about religion. Or rather, let’s talk about faith.

This semester, I am taking my first Notre Dame-required theology class. Because I have attended Catholic school since kindergarten, I was completely ambivalent about being placed in a class about Catholicism again. Like many Notre Dame students, it is not that I am unreligious or loathe religious study; it is just that I have reviewed the material so many times that it often feels repetitive and dull.

Being the know-it-all I can sometimes be, I entered my theology class thinking I knew most everything I needed to know and I would not learn many new things throughout the semester. While I am currently only two weeks into the course, I can retain that the biblical material has been somewhat repetitive, but I can also say some of the topics in class discussion have struck a chord with me.

We talked about the Israelites, and how Moses led them out of Egypt and into the ever elusive Promised Land. Most of us have heard this story, or at least have seen “The Ten Commandments” or “The Prince of Egypt.” The story was nothing new to me, but I had never really looked at it critically. None of the Israelites had any idea who Moses was, and still they were willing to drop everything in an instant to follow him on a long, dangerous journey. They were not even sure where they were going. Their final destination was unknown; God promised to show them the way as they went along. They had no idea how to get basic necessities like food and water.

They were just supposed to trust that everything was going to work out. They were completely, utterly clueless and yet they had faith that God and Moses would lead them in the right direction and do the right thing.

This is absolutely baffling to me. How can you follow someone if you have no idea where they are leading you? How can you put that much trust in someone you do not even know? Speaking as a Type-A personality, this does not make any sense at all.  Imagine that you are in a car, riding in the passenger seat. The driver will not tell you where he is taking you, but he assures you that everything is fine. To make matters worse, you barely know who the driver is. Would not your first thought be, “What am I doing in this car?! Where is this person taking me?!” People would think you were crazy for getting in the car in the first place. (Stranger danger!) They teach it in elementary school. Do you not deserve to know where you are going, at the very least?

Yet this is what we do with our lives, every single day. This is real life – real life is full of uncertainty. No one knows exactly where they are headed, and no one will get a straightforward response if they ask.

If you are religious, you will put full faith in the driver, God, and believe him when he says tells you everything is going to be okay. When he refuses to tell you where he is taking you, you just trust it is all for the best.

I still have trouble with this. I am not good with uncertainty, and I am even worse with trusting blindly. I am nowhere near as brave as the Israelites. I guess I always have the choice to get out of the car – no one is forcing me to stay inside, right? But then where would I be? I would be walking at a much slower pace, and I would be even more unaware of where I was going.
I like to think of myself as a co-driver or a navigator of some sort in the car ride of my life, and I hope to God that I am in control at least somewhat. But at some point or another, everyone has to accept the fact that they can never be completely in control. Even if you are not religious, other factors besides God will most definitely play a part in determining your life’s direction without your consent – freak accidents, family drama, bad luck, good luck, lay-offs, promotions, relocations, you name it. And you’re going to need faith of some sort to get you through – faith in God, faith in yourself, or just faith in the goodness of the world.

I am trying my best to be along for the ride, even though it is difficult. I encourage you to do the same.

Bianca Almada is a sophomore residing in Cavanaugh Hall. She is studying English, Spanish and Journalism. She can be contacted at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.