I have had several people at different times tell me in counsel to “live my faith.” I was usually struggling through something at the time, a bit lost and confused about certain things, and my initial response every time was, “How? What does it mean to live out your faith?”
They did their best to answer that question, but to be honest, it never reached very deep into the whirlpool of my thoughts and emotions. To say “live my faith” felt like a lifeline that I did not know how to grasp. But to “live my faith” is not a lifeline to be pulled out of the water, it is the river itself. I needed to learn to float along with its current rather than attempt to swim against it.
I found a more satisfying answer in Merton’s words as noted by James Finley in Merton’s Palace of Nowhere. To live my faith is the same way I should (and do) approach prayer:
We should not look for a “method” or “system,” but cultivate an “attitude,” an “outlook”: faith, openness, attention, reverence, expectation, supplication, trust, joy. All these finally permeate our being with love in so far as our living faith tells us we are in the presence of God, that we live in Christ, that in the Spirit of God we “see” God our Father without “seeing.” We know him in “unknowing.” Faith is the bond that unites us to him in the Spirit who gives us light and love.
(I would add compassion, kindness, and hope, but these naturally follow from the list of words above.)
To live faith is to live life as prayer. Something many saints and mystics have said of course. The note I wrote next to this passage in my copy of the book reads, “Be-with-You-ness” (or “Be-with-ness” as I have written in the margins on other pages).
“Be-with-ness”, to be truly present with another, needs an attitude of “faith, openness, attention, reverence, expectation, supplication, trust, joy.” That is praying; that is living my faith.