I bought a lottery ticket yesterday… Now, I know others might protest that gambling and chance are not faith, but the one of the definitions of the word faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”, so maybe I’m lacking a little faith on the outcome (based on the chance of winning), but it brings to light that this word, faith, while often relegated to religious vocabulary, is alive and well and living in our minds daily. So maybe it’s time to get a ‘faithlift’ and explore the potentials and drawbacks of faith.
I’ve often lightly mentioned that I have ‘predictive text’ faith. For some it’s that annoying function on a ‘dumb’ phone that anticipates what you’re trying to write (which for me is more a problem of spelling than getting the wrong words), and it reassesses the best possible word as you’re in the process of typing it. So when you’re typing in the word “this”, before you finish the final “s”, it displays “ugh” not “thi”. So, for me, continuing to type in the final letter, to change “ugh” to “this” is a matter of faith – that the word will turn out alright, that it will come together in the end. At the same time, faith is bigger than texting – it can be a source of power that can transform. The definition of faith suggests that we commit to or connect with an external agent – something or someone outside ourselves. If this gives us strength, I believe it’s a good thing. If faith from outside provides inspiration or hope, then I believe that it can be one of the best motivators. Who or what do you trust or are confident in? If you don’t have faith in something or someone else, what have you got?
But what happens when our dreams are shattered? What happens when we are let down by a person or people we put our faith in? That our belief wasn’t enough to make things happen. We may feel sad because of what we have lost, angry because we feel hurt, or frustrated because despite all our work, it just doesn’t seem to transpire in the way we wanted it to. We may feel broken and battered around, abandoned or empty. Many people blame others for this fall from grace, and they may be right – sometimes others have intentionally or inadvertently disappointed us, either doing something or not doing something that fulfils our expectations and trust. Often times people begin to turn their wrath or doubt inward – feeling that if they had only seen the subtle signs, if they had only had greater confidence in someone and supported them more then this disenchantment would not have happened. It becomes a personal blame game – if I were only smarter, worked harder, loved more, cared more, wished more, wanted more, ________ more, then this wouldn’t have happened.
Faith is a Journey
Let’s take a moment and think about fairy tales. Their main characters are often faithful – committed and determined in a belief about something or someone or a concept or way of life. It is usually a ‘good’ versus ‘evil’ battle that occurs throughout the storyline. Yet between the “once upon a time” and the “happily ever after” there are moments of doubt, both by the hero and by the reader/listener about whether they will succeed or not. It is the middle chapters that show our steel, merit our worthiness, expand our compassion for the limitations of others or ourself. This is the time that actually ‘makes’ the hero into a hero. This is the journey – and the slings and arrows, while painful, may just reveal what greater inner strength we have yet untapped. We can opt out, but what kind of adventure would that be? Faith may be merely a small track we can follow forward – one that we may lose at times, but if we look very carefully, we can pick up the trail for our lives. And as we follow that small path, we may realize that our conviction in ourselves is the most important part of moving us onwards.
Faith: Action or Being
So is faith in the doing or the being/believing? I’m not sure. When I work with athletes there are two aspects the we focus on – training and trusting – and elite performance can’t happen without both. Daily practice of what we need to learn, of our beliefs, repeated over and over, not only makes our lives and faith congruent, but from a mind perspective, allows this to become automatic. Once it is, our ‘being’ part can come to the forefront – while we may still be doing things that align with our faith, we have habitualised it, so it becomes a part of us. Remember, if it isn’t working, we can reshift our actions – unquestioned faith sometimes seems to cost more, to ourselves, others and the world. Becoming an active participant in your beliefs, commitments and trust allows for you to make decisions that best support you, allows you to work out any internal battles or conflict that may exist, and discover those people and things worthy of your faith. You are the hero on a journey with its exciting highs and lows, its challenges and opportunities – your faith in yourself, expressed in who you are and what you do may also ebb and flow, but never forget that you are loveable, valuable and precious. I have faith in that.