Lately I have been paying attention to the news items that involve people's claims that their faith allowed them to succeed, survive or triumph in otherwise adverse conditions. Such claims and stories never get too much attention, yet they are always sprinkled throughout our daily awareness. Faith is a word for something amazingly powerful and yet more often misunderstood and even misused.
I think of faith, perhaps idealistically, as the absolute trust that there is wisdom and power beyond what we can measure, know or control, and that the mysterious nature of the universe (God included) can actually work in our favor if we welcome it. For some, this literally means they have faith that God will intervene or take over their situation for the better. For others faith is more of a sense of assurance that the world is ultimately not corrupt and that things will work out for the best - eventually. Still, for others faith is more ambiguous, it's just a kind of feeling, a felt-sense, or a knowing that defies explanation. Such people might say they have faith in someone, or something - it may not be a higher power, but its built on an inner knowing of something beyond the evidence presented.
Faith Is An Experience
In the end, faith can be linked to extraordinary things from outright miracles, to human endurance to the hope that gets us by. Too often opponents of "faith" want to debate what exactly we have faith "in," while it is my experience that the act of faith itself is the most powerful healing dimension of any faith experience. Whether life goes your way, people are good to you, God lifts your burdens, or not, the true act of faith will always help in some way.
Beware Blind Faith
The only faith that I fear is the blind faith that is the opposite of an engaged act. It is the absence of a mindset and way of life, but instead is a form of abdication and justification. To use faith to further an agenda, seems a paradox. Faith is about listening to the deepest self, and highest calling. It is an intimate relationship between an individual and a higher vision or power. I don't see it as an exercise of will against others.
Five Forces of Faith
If you want to cultivate faith in your life, cultivate its core qualities. If you want to experience the miracles and peace of mind that faith can bring, try using these five forces to guide your life and choices.
Hope: Although I don't see faith as necessarily being unrealistic, you absolutely must keep an open mind to the unexpected, the surprise, and the astonishing. People with faith always have hope because they know there is more to life than what meets the eye. Be a realistic optimist. Focus on the positive, and trust that natural forces like time, human goodness and being creative can unlock the solution you seek.
Surrender: Holding a vision for the future and cultivating a clear intent is critical to faith, but not as much as the willingness to resist turning hopes into goals and expectations. Surrender asks that we live with humility, giving up the idea that we know what is best for ourselves and others. Surrender teaches us that being fully present and allowing life to unfold are transformative and empowering. Its about being so vulnerable that you know you are invincible.
Perspective: Faith asks us to step back - way back. Faith says, don't always look at life through the worrying eyes of a mouse, who examines every detail and counts every seed. Instead, look at life through the eyes of a star, watching galaxies turn and planets come and go. Faith looks at life from the top down, instead of the bottom up. It asks us to hold all our challenges in the vastness of time and human experience.
Intuition: Faith knows that the world speaks to us through our own hearts and souls. Learn to listen to your own gut feelings and sense of vitality. Know that the mystery you have faith in is already at work within you, not only around you. The clues and cues that bring us to miracles are as close as our own breath.
Looking For Lessons: Faith allows us to grow. While blind faith can keep us trapped in a worldview that stays small and stuck, true faith is looking for the gifts of each moment. While you trust in the future and the good of the universe, be an engaged learner, look for the lessons of each moment. For the miracle you seek may not drop from the sky, instead it may be the insight, support and tools that show up along the way. Faith trusts that healing and change will come, but not always in the ways we expect. Being grateful and making the most of each moment is a part of the path that awakens faith and extraordinary outcomes for anyone.