What Does It Mean to Have Faith?

“With only a 4th-grade education, Grandma Maggie’s world schooled her in the practicalities of life. Hardworking and unshakeable, she harbored neither self-pity nor arrogance for any aspect of her life. No matter what happened around her, she remained grounded. She was not a religious woman, but I would describe her as having a strong faith. The kind of faith that extends beyond the walls of a church or the pages of the Bible.”

– Excerpt from Walking Old Roads

If you and I were playing a word association game before I wrote Walking Old Roads, my answers would sound different than answers from my post-book writing perspective. If you had asked me to tell you the first word to pop into my head when I hear the word faith, I would have immediately said religion. I also would have told you that I would not use the word faith as a description of myself. I am not a religious person in that I find little comfort in organized religion. During the process of writing Walking Old Roads, I surprised myself by discovering I have a lot more faith than I ever thought possible. After authoring the book, the word popping into my mind in response to the prompt of faith is trust. Faith has many layers other than that of a religious context.

The dictionary defines faith as “sincerity of intentions … allegiance to duty; loyalty … belief in something for which there is no proof.” Faith requires a great deal of trust and trust is a key component of benevolence.

I came to understand a broader definition of faith when I was writing about my Grandma Maggie who I say has the kind of faith that extends beyond the pages of the Bible. As a wrote about her, I began to see similarities between her personality and mine. My devotion to a tidy home, my appreciation for everyday tasks performed with caring intention, and my desire for contentment remind me of my behavioral connection to one of my greatest role models. The way I sneeze after applying a generous sprinkling of ground black pepper jogs my memory of Grandma Maggie doing the same while standing at the stove in her modest kitchen. I began to see more faith in my existence as I searched my heritage and found the significance of being a benevolent person.

Even if I cannot immediately see proof of how a simple kind act can influence the world around me, I believe small actions matter. I strive to become the role models who influenced me in my youth. They, like us, were far from perfect, but they knew how to be part of a community. They understood the importance of contribution, how to be content with life, and how to trust the people around them. Not an easy task to accomplish these days. Remembering the world of yesterday helps me see the possibilities in having the faith to lift up my eyes and connect with the people right in front of me.

Who I am is a moving target and I can use past experiences to guide me into being a better person. I will get some things right, and I will get some things wrong. Grandma Maggie would have believed setting a good example for the benefit of generations to come to be a worthy effort. I still have work to do to repair my broken benevolence, but I know I have the level of faith necessary to start mending myself. I know I must be more trusting of others and more content with myself. No matter what type of healing you need, patience in the process goes a long way to getting there.

How do you answer when the person in your mirror asks, “What is faith?”


Tammy Hader
Tammy Hader
Tammy Hader has no writer’s pedigree. With a BBA in accounting from Wichita State University, numbers are her history. The CPA exam was passed, because that’s what accountants are supposed to do, and thirty years later her accounting life ended with the desire to journey down a different career path. The compass turned toward words to create a new legacy beyond spreadsheets. Her nostalgic writing reflects on the past to explain the present and shine into the future the light of lessons learned. Growing up in a small Midwestern town, influenced by relationships, choices, consequences, and situations, her life is not unique. In her stories, you will recognize reflections of your own past, understand how you arrived at today’s version of you and gaze with her across the bridge into the future.

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  1. Tammy, I have to have faith that “we” will come to our senses, but I’m under no illusion that it can be started – or achieved – by anything other than individual behavior. How we treat one another is critical.

    I am jealous. I wish I’d had a Grandma Maggie.

  2. What a light and lovely interpretation of this concept that often is imbued with misplaced solemnity.

    “Even if I cannot immediately see proof of how a simple kind act can influence the world around me, I believe small actions matter. I strive to become the role models who influenced me in my youth. They, like us, were far from perfect, but they knew how to be part of a community. ”

    Be the change is having faith in the power of a good example.

  3. Tammy,
    Thank you for enlarging the understanding of faith. I would like to add that faith enables us to be comfortable and operate with confidence that our actions help (and sometimes inspire ) others. Early in life I thought faith was a passive acceptance and learned later it is an active contribution to help our struggling world.
    Keep spreading your faith.

    • I love your idea of faith being more than passive acceptance. Active contributions are needed now more than ever. Thank you for reading and commenting.