That’s a command that is so hard to live.
When life is tough, we prefer to think that ‘the tough get going’. We like to believe that we are the masters of our own fate and destiny. Sorry, it’s not true. Have faith. That’s what we’re left with in moments of struggle, when we are really knocked to the canvas. Have faith. We can let go of our ambitions, see our hopes float away, see our best laid plans laid to waste, and after the anger and hurt subside, we can have faith…. Or we go back and try to play the game again.
Some people are fortunate enough, skilled enough, rich enough, talented enough, that they can continue on their chosen path by using just these gifts. These are the lucky few who can set a goal or an aspiration, or even dream a dream, and seem to achieve it easily. They are even able to get going when life gets tough. They are ‘the tough’! At the very least, they are the tough-enough and the resourced-enough to keep their sights on their plans, goals and desires even when facing a headwind. They don’t often find a need for faith.
Don’t get me wrong, achievement is a wonderful thing. It truly is, and I wish it for anyone and everyone. However, for those who achieve, there is generally the moment after the reward, the speech, the honor, the cashing of the check and the shelving of the trophy, when you’re left with the question “what next?”. That is also a good time to have faith. Success can provide security and a sense of belonging, and help us figure out some of who we are and who we’re not. Unfortunately that triumphant feeling often doesn’t last, and it doesn’t teach us how to have faith in anything other than our own accomplishments. And when we pursue goals simply for the accolades they bring with them, and further polish to our self-image, we can be left with a hollow feeling, a sense of something missing.
On the other hand, if you have tried and failed, and have truly come to the end of your rope, if you have absolutely nothing left, no more tricks to take your game into extra innings, and it really is over, at that point, you are left with all that is left… What’s is that?… Well, that’s you! You are what is left. This is the moment, unfortunately, that provides the opportunity to truly have faith. It’s also a great moment to realize who you are.
I’m tempted to say that when we lose, we learn what we can take, but we are not just the sum of what we can take. That invites a self-image based on endurance and that’s not exactly a great competition to enter – the competition of who’s had it the worst and kept fighting – a ‘pushing the river’ contest. That means you have a self-image based on victimization or endurance rather than achievement. That’s no good either. You learn in moments when you really do have nothing left. In those moments, you have a brief window to see yourself. You might see that you are more than your greatest accomplishment, and you are also not defined by your worst failure. When you lose despite your best efforts, you learn better who you are, who you’re not, what you really have, what you really need, and you can learn to have faith… (Or you can become cynical…I wanted to lay out all the options.)
There is a connection between the command to have faith, failing to achieve your goals, and feeling empty behind your greatest accomplishments. The connection hides behind the fears, hurts and insecurities that each of these circumstances can bring out. The connection is the place of fullness within each of us where faith takes root. That place is where we are left when we fail honestly and fully. It is a seed, a source of the whispered invitation to rest when we are tired of working to maintain a pace we know we cannot keep. That is the God in each of us. Outside I can say, “have faith”. Inside, I need to first listen for the voice that says, “you are good as you are”.