“None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have faith.” –Paulo Coelho, Brida
We tend to free associate faith as being synonymous with God or religion but what about faith as an entity or power within ourselves?
What is faith, really? Faith is soul talk. Faith is the voice deep inside of your soul that tells you the truth and it is up to you to listen carefully and honestly to the soul talk; to trust that voice. Some might call it intuition.
What does it feel like to truly have faith? For me, to truly have faith means to have freedom. To truly have faith means to know that what I am doing is born of a good heart with good intentions and whatever the outcome is, it was supposed to be that way. Faith means to have courage.
“Faith is the courage to live your life as if everything that happens does so for your highest good and learning. Like it or not.” –Dan Millman
How does a person go about living a faithful life? That’s a hard one but from what I’ve experienced to live a faithful life means to relinquish control of the outcome and to let go of doubt.
When I start to feel like I have to hold on tighter than normal to make sure things turn out the way I want the outcome to be, well, this is not necessarily the outcome that should be and it screams of my doubt that things will go well at all. That is when I know I should stop and breathe deeply and let go of my narrow perspective, my righteousness. I don’t have all the answers. I only know what I think would make me happy. My perception of happiness is not for certain. I can’t see the bigger picture because I am the one inside the picture. Let the universe, the hope my energy creates, make more clear what happiness looks like and to then shoulder my doubts. Since I can’t account for every nuance of true happiness I have to believe that those things I can’t account for are just what faith will reveal. Here is a short story to shed light on this idea:
My youngest son is almost finished with high school. He is 17 and has been ready to launch and take control of his life for quite some time. This past week as a matter of fact, he and I had a heated conversation about his ability to take control of his life. I am not seeing any evidence of him making good decisions and the result of his poor decision making has been resulting in unhappy consequences for him. I hold on tighter to try to control his environment and take a strong hand in taking away his opportunities to make bad decisions. It’s not a good thing for me to do but I have been doing it for 17 years so it’s hard to stop just like that.
He on the other hand sees the consequences, good or bad, of his actions as part of a larger learning experience and so he said to me, “Mom, I know you are there for me and I know you worry about me but I want to make my own decisions and learn from my own mistakes.” Well that shut me up really quick. How can I not hear that?
My faith in him as a human being has to be greater than my doubt in his abilities to meet the challenges he is choosing to face. My faith in him as a person coming out of my home and my teachings has to be the overall measuring stick. Of course he is going to make mistakes and bad judgment calls, of course he is going to fall and have to find the inner strength to stand back up again but my FAITH in him OVERALL is what will hopefully give him the courage to meet those challenges; knowing that someone that loves him desperately is not doubting him when it really counts. I have to let go of the outcome, I have to let go of his hand, I have to let go of seeing him as my baby boy and trust, without doubt, and be courageous within myself to let him go. My perception of his happiness is not his perception of his happiness. I don’t know for sure what his future looks like. I can only believe in his ability to stand up to adversity because for all these years I have been kind of shielding him and warning him away from the really bad adversities. That’s not good for him or me. He needs to know that no matter what happens, I am here for him; I am his home when he needs one to regroup in. Yeah, faith is a huge inner sanctum that starts in the soul and spreads outward.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” –Joseph Campbell
The dictionary defines faith as a belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something such as a force or the universe or God, especially without logical proof. It could also be defined as
-Unquestioning belief or
-A non-physical dimension of life; the evidence of things not seen; a strong conviction, deep trust or reliance upon or loyalty to something or some feeling.
Faith is magic. When life is at its lowest point and all seems predictably lost faith says, “But maybe all is not lost. Maybe all you need to do is believe.” Remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Glinda the good witch told Dorothy that she had the power to go home all along. All she had to do was believe and concentrate hard on what she really wanted. I think of faith just like that.
My purpose of this post is to explore, briefly, faith without religiousness attached to it. It’s not an easy thing to do so I ask you to please interject your personal awareness of faith where and when appropriate if it is something that comes from a religious point of view for you in order to maintain a continuity of the overall concept of faith.
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” –Alan Wilson Watts
Lately I feel as if I have existed in despair. I have been driven to my knees in humbleness and awe of people and circumstance. It felt like a natural response to the absence of faith. I have been humbled in despair and I have summoned the force within myself to stand back up and take one step forward while at the same time feeling a deep and soulful need to ask the universe or my inner energy for help. It was faith in that one step, faith that that one step was within me to take, that I was able to stand back up and move forward. The soul connection (http://journeyoncoaching.com/2014/03/02/4-powerful-ways-to-make-a-soul-connection/) I made recently along with all of life’s obstacles that seem to have inundated me all at one time, left me with this whirlwind of despair and also this unshakeable knowing that this too shall pass.
I love that cliché, “This too shall pass”. It is the ultimate snapshot of faith. Sure, I want this despair to pass yesterday and if I really had my way I would want to never feel this despair at all but here’s the amazing thing, I am more alive in this moment of despair than at any other time. I am super, hyper sensitive to EVERYTHING that is going on around me right now. I listen deeper, I see more curiously, I feel more sensitively and I speak more purposefully. I ask questions more directly to gain more meaning, perspective and understanding.
Questions constantly fill my brain like, why did I have to go through this experience at all? Why are so many situations in my life crashing down around me all at one time? What are the lessons I am supposed to be learning and when will I learn them?
“Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see.” –William Newton Clark
And that’s just it; there is a lesson to be learned and I want desperately to learn it. I want to see beyond what is in front of me. I want to feel beyond my own self interpretation. By having faith in the knowledge that everything happens for a reason I am lulled into a calmer, purposeful plodding.
Sometimes, when I am really quiet, I just know without a doubt that the lesson may not necessarily be only for me but for the person involved in the situation that may have started my despair or for clients I have yet to meet. THAT is fantastic and hopeful! Sure, it’s an ugly feeling to be going through, this despair thing, but my heart needs to understand it and where my heart goes so goes my empathy, my awareness, and my spirit.
“Even when things don’t work out, they do.” –Anonymous
Faith asks you to let go. Faith says, “Do what you need to do so that you know you gave this all you have but then let go of the outcome.” Why is there a need to control everything in our lives? Having faith in myself means that the only real control I have, ever, is my attitude and ability to choose open-mindedness; in other words my ability to expand my perspective.
For sure there are some ways in which putting our faith toward something might be harmful. Recently a family friend told me a story of how a neighbor he had known for over 20 years had asked him to consider investing in a new start up business. Now, this neighbor had proven to be a reliable, friendly, community minded person and so it was no real stretch for my friend to have had faith in this neighbor and his request because after all, my friend new this man for a very long time. My friend didn’t think twice about investing the money with his friend but within a couple of weeks of investing the money my friend found out that the neighbor took off with the money, not just what was given to him from my friend but from everyone that had invested, never to be heard from again.
So how do you trust your own faith?
My take away from that story is that my friend showed faith in his own judgment and in the neighbor he knew to be this kind, genuine person and that is where it stops. A good decision was made based on solid evidence. But faith means trusting without solid evidence.
The neighbor did not have faith that his financial struggle would get better. The neighbor showed no faith in himself or in knowing that his situation would pass through the difficult time and move fluidly toward a better time. You can only trust yourself and your judgment. Let the rest go. Faith asks you to believe more so on evidence not seen or proven so when our faith is shaken based on evidence seen and proven we want to run for the hills. That is when faith should be at its strongest. Live according to YOUR values and the goodness that exists within you. Bad things are going to happen no matter what so plant your feet in those values that you choose to help define who you are and what you stand for.
Everyone is going through something they feel is horrible. Faith can help make that bumpy, horrible time less overwhelming. Faith at times of despair is like reaching out a hand to a friend.
The story my friend told me has the possibility of not being a done deal. If this neighbor is alive and functioning the hope is that the neighbor is learning and just might someday apologize for his actions. It is our job to have faith that he will learn and grow and not hurt anyone else and we should stand ready to forgive because life is a risk we take every time we get out of bed in the morning. If we ask for forgiveness we should also be available to forgive, to have faith in another persons’ sincerity and integrity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “We live by faith or we do not live at all. Either we venture or we vegetate. If we venture, we do so by faith simply because we cannot know the end of anything at its beginning. We risk marriage or we stay single. We prepare for a profession by faith or we give up before we start. By faith we move mountains of opposition or we are stopped by mole hills.”
I just finished reading an incredible, thought provoking book called “The Noticer”, by Andy Andrews. Please read this book. It is a quick read because it is so captivating, so simple, and so impactful. The gist of the book is about perspective and how simply changing the angle from which we see and take things in can have a profound impact on our lives starting with taking back hope. (http://journeyoncoaching.com/2013/05/22/is-there-a-difference-between-a-hope-and-a-wish/)
Faith asks us to have hope.
“Hope meets you halfway on a bridge called faith.” –Bryant McGill
My perspective regarding faith has absolutely changed from a religious based thought to a personal life encompassing value. When I practice being present with faith I can feel myself open up like a flower in the morning sunrise. It takes lots of practice but the peace of mind and spirit I have discovered is worth making time for.
Call to Action
Share your story with me and my readers about how faith has proven to be a positive force in your life. We all need to hear positive, uplifting, out of the norm stories to help us cling to hope, possibilities and faith.
If you would like to explore more about personal growth or would like to learn how to activate your intentions toward more meaning and purpose for your life please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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