Marching Forward - Lessons of Living by Faith
Logic is a double edged sword. On it's brighter side, we find a keen ability to reconcile differences or solve problems. But logic isn't always so kind. Often logic attacks us with the long rants of our internal discourse. We talk ourselves into and out of opportunity. We justify procrastination or disillusionment and distraction. If we allow this to continue we find ourselves far along into another year where we could have achieved many things if only...
What is it then that makes us break through this barrier of mediocrity and doubt? Often it is what we fail to see that causes us to fail. Uncertain of our next steps we stop when if we'd simply step forward we would find the road expanding in front of us. How then do we step out when we aren't sure where our feet will land? It's called faith and it is the fuel of miracles. Most everyone knows what the word faith means, and it has several meanings, but what I am speaking about is belief that is not based on proof. How do we still our fears sufficiently to walk in faith? The key is based in simple stubbornness and optimism. When we are stubbornly optimistic, we refuse to allow our fears to take root. It is when we do this that we find ourselves incredibly propelled forward despite all seeming obstacles. It's about steadily ploughing the field with no end in site, trusting that the work will come to fruition in its proper time. Before the inner critic stifles your grasp, allow me to give you both a story and practical steps to apply.
For many years I struggled with extreme depression. I had reached the height of my youth and couldn't seem to establish myself in the world to the level I aspired to. I was co-dependant and miserably lonely. My career was uncertain as the industry I worked in changed with the times. What I wanted most was to be happily married, raising children and enjoying a fruitful career. What I experienced was a long string of unsuccessful relationships and multiple layoffs. Each time I encountered failure, surrounded by an environment that was unfulfilling at best and downright toxic at worst I found myself sinking further. I had lost hope and wished for death. I couldn't imagine living as I was for much longer. My career crumbled and I began looking in new directions. Each time I found myself hitting a dead end. I took a job as a bouncer at a nightclub and spent my nights working, my early morning drinking and my day sleeping on the beach. I was without insurance and barely surviving.
One morning I woke from a dream where a man approached me and said, 'You need to get to a doctor, you've got cancer.' I found it puzzling to say the least. A month later I noticed a growth. I decided to watch it to see if it continued growing and it did. My debts were out of hand and I knew this would be catastrophic to my finances. About this time, my neighbor told me of a position as a sand blaster where he worked. I took this awful job, not because I wanted it, but because it offered benefits. Working 2nd shift in an unbearably hot booth, I struggled just to hang on long enough to get insurance so I could get medical attention. Just a few weeks in, I received a phone call from a company who told me I'd applied with them 18 months earlier. I was certain I had not, but agreed to an interview and began working immediately at a shipyard. This position trimmed my wait for insurance by a month.
One night I went out for a few drinks and woke the next day with a hangover. I decided to call in and had to go to the doctor for a note. I told the doctor I needed a note for the 'cocktail flu' and mentioned casually that I thought I had cancer. He examined me and it was determined I was correct. I was rushed to a specialist who concurred that I required immediate surgery. I asked him for 24 hours to consider it. He agreed, I'm sure thinking I would go for a 2nd opinion.
When I got home, I locked the doors and took the phone off of the hook. My 2nd opinion wasn't going to come from a doctor, but rather from myself. Here was my opportunity to die if that was really what I wanted to do. I could simply not act on the problem and I'd be dead in a year. No suicide notes to write, everyone would feel sorry for the young guy who died from cancer. It was then that I decided not to die, but rather not to continue living the way I had been. The surgery was a success and as I worked to regain my health, the 2nd cancer took effect.
This cancer was my financial ruin. I took a chapter 7 bankruptcy and struggled for the remaining year. Just after, I was told I could get a grant to go back to school because I was a dislocated contractor. I took the offer and went back to college and got a degree in graphic design. This changed my career and my life slowly began to take shape. What was interesting was that not only had I defeated my cancer, but I found myself living more fully than I ever had before. Each day since has been a blessing and I possess an enthusiasm I never had before that experience. In the midst of all of this, I had numerous synchronicities that showed me that I was being cared for through this trial. The local cable guy showed up the week before the surgery and offered me 3 free months of fully loaded cable. This gave me comfort while I was healing. The insurance had shown up just in time, and before I even had to tell my foreman I would be out for surgery, I was laid off. This allowed me to fight this battle without the worry of work. As you can see, in my moments of doubt, I was taken care of.
After this experience I knew that there was something much larger going on than what we normally think of as our lives. There is an intelligence, I'll call it God, that is personally interested in what happens to us. I am certain of this, and it has given me incredible faith to go on living.
Before you dismiss this as someone else's experience, or as pure coincidence, let me demonstrate a few steps you can take to gain this power of faith for yourself.
First, you must fully engage your fears. Fears are based on radically unlikely statistics most of the time. We fear things that quite simply are not likely to happen. You need to press the fear for its potential reality by asking yourself, 'What is the worst thing that can happen?' When you face the real worst case scenarios, they are often not nearly as bad as you think they are. We attach emotions to outcomes and charge up the intensity so that we perceive things much more severe than they generally are. It's important to note that many times we don't have control of the world around us and it is this lack of control that frightens us to begin with. We can overcome this by allowing events to happen as they will, intent upon accepting those outcomes even if we don't necessarily like them.
Second, trust that whatever does actually happen will lead to the best outcome if viewed by a larger perspective. What I mean here is that sometimes we don't get what it is we think we want, only to discover later that it would have been bad news if we had gotten it, or that something much better happened instead. I've found that the universe operates on some pretty incredible parameters and that we honestly don't see as many moves ahead as the higher intelligence does. From our mortal linear time perspective we often can't decipher the intentions of events and how they will at some point shape our futures more positively.
Third, ask for help. I don't care what you believe in, be it God, quantum physics your higher self or existentialism. Asking for help from 'whatever is out there' will almost always produce results, especially if you are persistent and patient. You have to get yourself into the space of allowing and know that you are heard. The illusion that you are ever alone is reinforced by academic thought, but I've found quite the opposite to be true when it came to practical living.
Finally, remember the many times in your life where you thought things were going to blow up in your face and how often it turned out that things weren't nearly as bad as you believed they would be. Let's face it, life hands us some odd curves sometimes, but I'm willing to bet that right now you have a roof over your head and you didn't go hungry. Somehow, we manage to pull through even the toughest of times. This doesn't happen by accident!
Take time here to reflect on where you are. Take a pause from the stress and problems you've encountered so far and renew your intentions. You can get to where you want to go, if you live by faith.