From 2005 to 2009, NPR invited people from all walks of life to submit short essays about the core beliefs that guided their lives. These personal statements were aired weekly on a radio program called This I Believe.
At age 57, here are several of my essential beliefs that I’m certain are true.
I believe that we are, as author Anne Lamott puts it in Almost Everything: Notes on Hope, “spiritual beings having human experiences, not vice versa.” Our purpose here on this Earth is expressed simply but completely in this childhood catechism:
The purpose of life is to know God, to love Him, and to serve Him.
God is Being itself, the creative Life Force in the universe, and He made each and every one of us in an exuberant expression of that creative power. We are to magnify His creative power with our own lives, using our unique set of abilities and talents to do His work in this world. We can never know true happiness until we do. As Saint Augustine said in his Confessions, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Anyone who is feeling adrift, anxious, meaningless, or hopeless has either forgotten this or never learned it. People who seek fulfillment solely in the transient things of this world—money, power, possessions, fame—may feel some satisfaction in their triumphs now and then during the daylight hours. However, they are confronted with their terrible errors when they are alone at night—and on the edge of their graves.
I believe that the whole of the natural world shimmers with God’s presence, demonstrates His creative joy, teaches us, and reflects His love and care for us. Consider the astonishing beauty of an autumn day. The marvelous engineering of these bodies that we inhabit. The many examples of altruism among social animal species. The thousands of plants, from peaches to walnuts to wheat, that we can grow and gather for our nourishment and our enjoyment.
I believe in miracles. God created the order of this world, and He gave us the minds that could use science to understand that order. But He also causes extraordinary events that are beyond our ability to explain.
I believe that, while we exist in this world, God speaks to us, hears our prayers, and guides us. God never stops beckoning us to Him. We just have to sit still, block out all of the noise, tune in, and listen.
I believe that every single thing Jesus Christ said is true. If we wish to know God, we must be in close relationship with Jesus. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus said. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14: 6). Ignoring or dismissing this statement is the most tragic of mistakes.
I believe that greedy, selfish people who take advantage of other people, exploit any living thing, or contribute to our planet’s ruin may not pay for their sins in this life, but they will never feel any real happiness or fulfillment either. Refer back to my first belief about our purpose here on this Earth.