HSCO 502 Faith Development Replies
Discussion question reply
What are your impressions of faith development in relation to an individual’s other developmental processes? Do you feel that there is interconnection, or do you oppose the idea that successful faith development requires successful development in other areas? Explain your answer using examples and support from the article and/or other sources of information.
Using your personal experiences, briefly describe some of the most meaningful characteristics of your faith development process. If there were pivotal moments or notable influences, good and bad, mention the significance of those people or events. Only include the most relevant details. Make sure to relate your thread to elements of Fowler’s faith development theory and your specific experiences.
As read in the article, it states “The authors ask that the reader think of faith in a more inclusive sense than Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, or Judaic faith. Faith, in the sense used here, even extends beyond religious faith. Understood in this more inclusive sense, faith may be characterized as an integral, centering process underlying the formation of the beliefs, values, and meanings that (1) gives coherence and direction to persons’ lives; (2) links them in shared trusts and loyalties with others; (3) grounds their personal stances and communal loyalties in a sense of relatedness to a larger frame of reference; and (4) enables them to face and deal with the challenges of human life and death, relying on that which has the quality of ultimacy in their lives”(Fowler 2004). So faith development focuses more on a person’s connection to the world. It doesn’t have to be linked to religion is what I get out of the journal. The journal breaks down 7 stages of faith development: biologic maturation, emotional and cognitive development, psychosocial experience, and the role of religious/cultural symbols, meanings, and practices (Fowler 2004). My personal opinion is that everyone has something that they truly believe in, and work hard to achieve. Faith is simply that. Hebrews 11:1 states “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. This verse is my all time favorite verse to read. Faith is hoping and believing something you really desire and want is going to come to pass, that it will happen for you. You may not know when it will happen, or where you will be but you believe it’s going to happen, and until it does, you keep on working to achieve it. That’s faith. I was taught this at an early age, growing up in the church I’m a big believer in faith. Even if you aren’t a religious person, I feel that faith plays a part in your everyday life. There’s always something a person desires, and they have that gut feeling that they will get it. Personally, I’ve been through a lot in my life. I’ve struggled with self-esteem all my life, being bullied right in my family by an aunt and cousins. I was taught by my grandmother that faith would bring you through a lot of stuff, and you have to pray to get through it. At an early age I learned how to pray, and seek God about the pain I felt, not just from the bullying, but feeling neglected by my maternal side of the family after my mother’s death, and feeling alone. I started writing in a journal at age 10 to help get out my frustrations and pain, and I would write all the time that “Troubles don’t last always. I will be happy soon!” When I prayed, I would say “I will be happy soon”. I trusted and believed that God would bring me out. I didn’t know when or where, but I kept trusting and praying, and believing. It happened, so I’m a huge believer in faith.
The development of faith concerning others’ developmental processes appears to be wide-ranging. While there are likely more than seven stages of faith development, Fowler’s view that an individual’s biological, emotional, cognitive, psychosocial, and the role of religious meaning and practice are significant factors (Fowler, 20014). It is likely that all humans practice faith regardless of the object of worship. Fowler states that faith is the scaffolding that gives coherence and direction to a person’s life, links them in shared trusts and loyalties, provides rootedness to those loyalties and personal stances, and provides a structure that provides support in dealing with difficult situations (Fowler, 2004.) Regardless of stages of maturity, a belief in some system will develop in a child’s life. Although I agree with Erikson that a healthy trust in infancy with mothers and caregivers can provide a healthy recognition of faith in later years, an infant who did not have a healthy caregiver relationship will also find other truths they will develop as trustworthy, healthy or not. I feel that there is an interconnection between favorable development in other areas and fruitful faith development. It seems however that a crucial step in this discussion would be to define the meaning of successful faith development. As I stated earlier, we all have faith in something, whether external or internal, temporary or eternal.
As an infant and young child, I was raised in an authoritative and warm environment. During my middle child years, my once stable relationship changed with one of my parents changed to an abusive relationship due to medical complications. This dynamic continued through my early college years. We were a family of the Mormon faith until I was in middle school. The chaos in our home coupled with questions about the Mormon faith led my parents to leave the church. Although I desired to attend a church of any kind, my parents’ desire for faith in any religion waned. I began to act out rebelliously and began to have faith in my achievements and unhealthy relationships. I developed the belief that my actions had no real consequences, and that people were not who they appeared to be. This view was reinforced by my experiences and relationships that helped form my still developing global sense of self. My faith in my actions and relationships around me proved unsuccessful and untrustworthy. This continued on through my first year of college. It was then that someone presented me with a new and different kind of world view that challenged my faith. This new system of belief challenged me to put my faith in something that was unfamiliar with the coherence and direction, trusts and loyalties, grounding, and support system I had grown up with. I wrestled for some time trying to reconcile and the two differing faiths without success. I came to the conclusion that this new way, a faith in the life and death of Jesus Christ, could not be combined with my faith in myself and the fragile relationships with others around me. It has been nearly thirty years since that intervention in my life. While some of my early childhood development lends itself to prove Fowler and Erikson’s theories to be true, much of it has not. If successful faith development could be defined as continued failure and disappointments in myself, circumstances, and others, while somehow being given the grace to maintain hope in a God that cannot be seen or touched, then I suppose my faith development has been a success in spite of my unsuccessful developmental processes.
Fowler, J. W., & Dell, M. L. (2004). Stages of faith and identity: birth to teens. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 13(1), 17-33.