The Role of Faith

Tell us about the role that faith plays in your life — or doesn’t. – Daily Prompt

faith (2)Merriam Webster defines Faith as:

1.a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty

(1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions

2a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion

(1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust

3: something that is believed especially with strong conviction;especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestantfaith>

Faith to me is first a belief in a power greater than myself.  I define mine as God and have faith that there is some rhyme or reason to why things happen the way they do!  There have been many reasons I have this faith and they all date back to growing up in a Christian home with strong values.  My faith in God is and has always been strong especially through the challenges I have faced in 40 years of life.

More recently faith in myself has been what I have been working on.  Not to say I do not have self-worth or self-esteem, I’m just saying that as I try new things (like whether to train for a marathon or starting a new job after grad school) I tend to lack faith in my abilities.  I am starting to really understand that it is these challenges that make me grow and give me more confidence but it’s hard!  I know because each day I meet with people face to face who describe these challenges/trials/insurmountable obstacles and ask me for help.  I waiver in my faith in myself that I can do it and sometimes I can’t but I have found that I am just a director, a person to help steer them to grow and face their problems on their own helping them to have faith in themselves.  It’s crazy how that word keeps popping up in my day to day life.  So how can I not have faith? faith (1)

Right now I am challenged because I want to do something more with my running.  I am pretty sure I want to run a marathon (the longest distance ever in my life!) but my faith keeps wavering.  Nice questions pop up in my head like, “Really, do you think you can really run that far?”, “Are you crazy?” (that one’s my favorite because I know the answer is yes), “Once you get out there 13.1 miles you have to get back do you think you can do that?”.  So this is where my faith in myself and my ability to train and prepare need to get me through.  I feel like the little engine that could, “I think I can, I think I can.”

And isn’t that what Faith is really about anyway?!  Thinking we can, trying it, and whether we succeed or fail at least we tried and that in and of itself builds our faith.  Every day I am unsure whether I can give the right advice or really hear what a Client is trying to say, yet I try it anyway.  I do no harm and have faith in my ability to empathize.  Every day I am challenged to continue my faith in a power greater than myself, God, and I continue to believe that He will give me the words to say and the abilities needed to make it through.  Every day I am challenged to get a run in to keep training for the next race or just to stay in shape and when I am finished with that run/workout I have stronger faith in my abilities.  This is how faith plays a role in my life.  How about yours?faith

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Rainbows

I was on my home today from work, yes I know it is Sunday but residential care never leaves so I work Sundays.  Well anyway back to the story… I was on my home from work and it was raining pretty hard and the sun was shining.  Kind of a weird experience but the good part that comes with all that is that the chance of seeing a rainbow is pretty good.  As I looked to my right, out my car window, there was a rainbow.  Not just one but a double rainbow.  I always enjoy seeing rainbows.   I know the science behind how their created (not real good but it has to do with prisms) anyway, I know that it is not an unusual sight if you have all the right elements in place.  Sun and Rain!  (Double rainbow seen here is not the one from my car but another one seen this summer.  Photo credit goes to my daughter!)

So you are probably asking, why are you sharing this story?  Well it’s because it got me to thinking, afterall that is what I do for a living, what’s at the end of that rainbow, have I ever been at the end of a rainbow, how does it feel to be at the end and how does this relate to me/us in everyday life?

Well in the Christian faith the rainbow has special significance.  It represents God’s faithfulness.  To me this promise of God’s faithfulness brings me through a lot of diversity and reminds me to have faith in myself.

Looking at a rainbow in another way I began think of the hard times I have overcome, the rain I have been drenched in yet emerged a better person.  I think of that feeling of helplessness when I thought I would never see the light.  And then just when I thought I could take no more a ray of light shines through, a feeling of hope comes in.  I begin to see colors or see things in a different way.  My thoughts begin to brighten.  Once I emerge from the storms, I look back and see the beauty, see the growth and transition that took place within and I have faith in my own strength and this rainbow symbolizes all of that to me.

To answer my above questions: Yes I feel like I have been at the end of the rainbow, I found strength at the end, it feels awesome to be there, and it relates because it’s all about awarenss and looking at things in a different way.

What are your rainbow experiences?

Faith and Powerlessness

I spend my days working with Clients in a 12 step program.  If you have never taken a moment to read the 12 steps here is your chance:

The 12 Steps

  • Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
  • Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  • Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  • Step 7: Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
  • Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  • Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  • Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
  • Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this

Wouldn’t we have a better world if we all lived by the 12 steps!

I talk about this because in my work we generally focus on step 1: Powerlessness.  Have you have taken a moment and thought about that?  I have (surprise, surprise!).  But I truly have thought about this in the past 5 months.    We were faced with unemployment just as I was getting ready to graduate and start a career.  Notice I said start, not, I had already begun.  I became powerless over my life overnight.  Needed to take a job, which I currently still have, I needed to take care of my family but I was feeling out of control.  Here is where the Faith part comes in…

I grew up in the Midwest (bible belt) and I was raised in the church, which is not a bad thing, in fact it made me who I am today.  So I turned to my faith during this difficult time, not specific religious belief but faith in my higher power who for me is God.  Through my work, I see miracles happen everyday.  We even say to the clients, “Don’t leave before the miracle happens”.  This means from the small things like “Don’t worry your day will get better to guess what we found placement for you and you leave in an hour.”  To me these are miracles.  But when I am in need of a miracle, a new job for my other half and for my world to no longer be chaotic I tend to try to take my will back.  Try to control everything around me (I guess that could be the Taurus in me too).  I have to remember I am powerless over my world.  Only my Higher Power has that  understanding of why things happen and He knows I will learn from them.  But man, why does it have to take so long!

The good news… My other half started a job yesterday and things will get better financially and hopefully a little easier for me because I will not have to try and take more overtime just to pay the bills.  But I was wondering today when I had a very long drive taking my daughter to dance camp, what did I learn through this process?  Well here is what I learned… I spent a lot of time working on myself and my faith and trusting in the future that has already been mapped out for me but has not been revealed.  I learned to start my day with a devotional and focus on what I can give the world today, not tomorrow and not what I did yesterday, but today!  Live in the present!  Only focus on the moment right now and what is before me because as much as we try we can’t change what is going to happen in 5 mins because we have no idea.  It is the choice we make right now that matters.

I also started January 1 with a gratitude journal.  Even though the big event in our life did not happen until February, I had already challenged myself to take a moment each morning and be thankful for what I already had been given.  This is especially humbling when you work with people who only have the clothes on their backs and no place to go.  I noticed that when we are challenged by events in our lives it takes more to come up with the things we are grateful for, so this was a challenge but now 8 months in I still come up with new things each day (to be honest in the winter I was grateful  for that electric start on my car! especially in the snow!) and I start my day that way.

So why say all this and really do I have to be so wordy!  The answer is yes to the wordy part!!  But why do I feel like I have to say all this, because once we admit that we are powerless and we begin to have faith and trust, the load we carry gets a lot lighter.  It becomes easier to get through the day.  I look back now and realize all the things we as a family and me as the sole provider made it through.  I am stronger and have more faith in myself that I could do it again if called upon (where believe me in the beginning there were lots of tears and doubt).  I also have a stronger faith in my Higher Power because for me this verse kept popping up:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

So my therapy for you is… through hard times or even just everyday, be grateful for what you have already been given and trust in yourself.  You already possess the skills to survive you just need some faith because we truly are powerless over the future.  Be present in every moment!