I don’t think I’m a typical Christian – or at least, it’s hard to think so living in the south. Belief has never come easily for me. There was a time in my life when I couldn’t make myself believe in God, even though I (mostly) wanted to.

And yet still, I believe. But I think faith is a little bit different for me, and I think that’s as it should be.

To me, belief isn’t something that happens exclusively in rock-solid wooden pews or in arenas at hyped-up youth conferences. It’s not an empty platitude or an old tradition – I don’t cling to it because it was passed down to me. And frustratingly enough, my belief doesn’t represent any kind of certainty. I know what I believe, I know what’s in my heart – but I have to leave room for reasonable doubt. I believe in absolute truth, but I do not trust my own mind enough to be certain of anything.

At times I’m frustrated by the things my faith is not. But I’m endlessly comforted by the things it is.

For me, faith is assurance. It’s walking hand-in-hand with someone who knows me – really knows me, all the way down to my core, to all my darkest sins and failures – and loves me anyway. It’s belief in a future that makes sense – for me and for the world. The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures…belief is hope for the future, and acceptance of the fact that “good” and “easy” are not the same thing. It’s knowing that I am filthy and irredeemable – and in my best behavior, I am really just like him – and knowing that I have been redeemed anyway.

Faith is something beyond logic. It doesn’t require me to suspend logic or to avoid thinking critically, but it provides answers for questions that are outside the realm of black and white, scientific understanding. It gives me confidence and humility all at once. It reminds me that my small, shadowy understanding is not the last word.

At its core, faith is the presence of God. It’s looking at the sky and knowing He’s there. It’s a million little coincidences that aren’t coincidences. It’s feeling empty when my choices lead me out of His presence. It’s finding joy – not suppression – in His commands, realizing that every single thing He does is done in love. It’s straying over and over and still knowing, when all is said and done, that my life only makes sense when I return to Him.

I fought for my belief, and I lost the empty, regimented, religious faith of my childhood completely. I no longer believe in simple, easy answers because there is no such thing. That kind of simplicity is no longer what I desire.

Instead, I have staked my life on Jesus Christ and the reality of Him and the comfort of His presence in my life.

It’s not easy. I’m not 100 percent sure. And I still struggle massively with the details – all the little uncertainties and lost-in-translation gray areas.

But I believe. And I believe I’m better for it. And I’m grateful every day – because I have been rescued.