Last week I wrote a post describing my need to have more faith. I mentioned how my lack of faith has often led to the plateau and stagnation of others because of my unwillingness to let go and believe that things will turn out as they should. In the week since that post was shared, I have been asked by dozens of people to help clarify my definition of faith, so I am going to attempt to do so here, but the truth is, I am far from an expert.
Today it isn’t uncommon for someone to describe themself as “a person of faith”, implying a belief in a higher power. Back in the 1980’s George Michael recorded a hit song describing the need to have “Faith” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cs3Pvmmv0E. In my own life, though, faith has been something that, quite honestly, I have struggled with.
If you are familiar with the True Colors Personality Test (see this link for more info: https://my-personality-test.com/true-colours), I am as green as they come. I rely on logic and data to make decisions. I am very rarely impulsive. I make my decisions based on my head and not my emotions. I am more like Spock than I am Captain Kirk. Throughout my 42 years on earth, however, this way of living has often left me on the outside looking in as it has created a life filled with doubt, judgment, and disappointment.
I am a believer that trust is earned. I believe that trust is not simply given away. I believe that as individuals or processes prove themselves to be dependable and reliable, I can begin to trust that future outcomes will follow past practices. Trust is a belief that the past will repeat itself. When individuals or circumstances show us unpredictability, trust can waver. When trust wavers, sometimes emotions follow suit. As a man who has often relied on logic and evidence to make decisions, I have often only been able to trust myself, knowing that every person is flawed and as a result, my trust has been limited.
Faith, on the other hand, is unwavering. Faith is not dependent on the past. Faith is not dependent on emotions. Faith is often a choice to reject the head and a choice to persist beyond the emotions felt in the heart. Faith is a commitment to stay focused despite present circumstances.
As an educator who started his career two decades ago, I understand that there will be hard days at work. There will be days when I totally blow it, when the work will feel less than inspiring, and when I will question my ability to make an impact. There will be times when I feel my students are not learning. There will be days, as a leader, when I feel like I am less than inspiring, but faith keeps me going. My faith is rooted in why I decided to do this job, to begin with. I signed up to teach, not because I thought it would be easy, or to turn students into quantifiable data points. I became a teacher to change destinies and to inspire generations. In the day to day, I cannot accurately measure whether or not lives are being changed, but I have faith that they are.
As a dad, my goal is not to raise perfect children, but to create future productive and happy adults. When I focus on my day to day struggles and my moments of failure, my trust in myself may waver, but I have faith that things will work out. If I look at my children and fixate on their temporary struggles today I can be tempted to step in and try to “fix” everything, instead of having faith that time will lead to growth, progress, and transformation.
So, what do I believe about faith today? I believe that my faith will only grow stronger as I choose to believe it will and as I chose to act upon those beliefs. I believe that faith is not dependent on trust as trust is often a result of past experiences and faith is guided on anticipation of the future. I believe that faith is a result of things unseen and beyond logic and evidence. Faith goes against my nature and against what I feel is reasonable and that’s why I need more of it. My nature tells me I just need to step up and do everything, to stop relying on others, to take control. Faith reminds me to back off, to lean in, and to choose to know that in the end, everything will be OK.
Today, this week, this year, I am going to choose to have a little faith. I am going to choose to be a man of faith. I am going to choose to have optimism and to believe that lives are changing, the future is bright, and in the end, everything is going to be alright.