I realize the topic of religion, spirituality, and faith can be controversial because we’re all convicted in our beliefs. However, this post isn’t meant for controversy. It’s meant to share my experience and my perspective because maybe someone reading this is like me. Maybe someone is out there longing for a relationship with something bigger than themselves, but feeling like they don’t know how to achieve it. Maybe they feel like they don’t know where to start. Maybe they’re intimidated by the thought of going to church or praying. Maybe they aren’t sure how to have faith when life is falling apart. My own spiritual awakening didn’t take place in a church, listening to scripture, or from reading the bible even though I’ve done all those things. It came from developing a strong loving relationship with myself, exposing my vulnerabilities, and learning to let go. That isn’t easy for someone with OCD and anxiety, but here’s a few things I’ve learned on my journey:
Faith simply means trust.
Having faith means you trust in something.
We don’t have to define what that something is!
Faith is holding your child who has cancer, but trusting he will survive. Faith is watching your child sink into a sea of depression, but trusting he will learn to swim. Faith is seeing evil in the world, but trusting the good outweighs the bad. Faith is losing someone you love, but continuing your life despite the pain. Faith is being surrounded by negativity, but delighting in the one ray of positivity you can find. Faith is craving control, but trusting in letting go. Faith is trusting what feels contradictory or hopeless to work out for the best. Faith is an act of blind trust. Faith is not knowing how to accomplish your dreams, but jumping in with both feet anyways.
“Faith is taking the first step when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
Faith is something I struggle with on a daily basis because the voices in my head are constantly at battle. We are less than two weeks out from the first day of Noah’s senior year. Normally I’d be excited and maybe a little nostalgic or weepy because it’s my baby’s last first day of high school. Instead, the voices in my head have waged a war on who can cause the most anxiety over all the things that can go wrong once school starts.
I know he’s in a better place than he was a few months ago. I know his depression and anxiety are much improved. I know he’s under a doctor’s care. I know, I know, I know! But these voices keep replaying the “what ifs”. What if he’s not ready? What if it’s too much stress too soon? What if the catalyst that started this whole nightmare in motion spins her web and reels him back in? What if he plasters on a fake smile and hides that he’s drowning again? I question whether he can survive the what ifs becoming reality. I’m terrified of how many ways this could go sideways.
Although I wrestle with faith each day, in exposing my truths I’ve learned that having faith and having trust in something bigger than myself, gives me the strength to let go of the what ifs. They never go away completely, but they’re no longer a life raft I cling to because the truth of the matter is, those what ifs are what fill my lungs with water in the first place. Those voices going to battle are the very reason I feel like I need control over everything. To quiet them I have to make my voice louder. I have to wake up each day and put one foot in front of the other. I have to have faith that everything will work out just fine and trust that if it doesn’t, we will get through it. I fear him being destroyed again, but he’s already proven his strength as he rose from the ashes like a Phoenix this summer. Faith is trusting that no matter what happens two weeks or two months from now, he will survive. He has and will learn hard lessons because that’s life, but he will always stand back up when he’s knocked down.
Every time those pesky voices start growing in volume, I use my voice to silence them. It happens all day long, but I feel like I’m winning the battle. I’m not laying awake at night listening to them. I’m not imagining worse case scenarios. I cling to mantras that I repeat all day long…….
I relinquish control.
I release everything that no longer serves me.
I am open and ready to receive.
These are my new life lines. These are the ropes I hold on to each day. I may not go to church and say them, but they’re still just as powerful. Sometimes, I say them before I even open my eyes in the morning. Sometimes, I say them while sitting in the back yard staring at the mountain. Sometimes I say them in my car and then I turn the music up loud and sing my heart out.
Faith is not about a place. Faith is not about a destination. Faith is about standing on an island all alone, yet trusting that there is always someone by your side. Faith is knowing without a doubt that something or someone bigger than you has your back. Faith is believing that even when life throws you those curve balls, you will survive.
No matter what your beliefs. No matter where you choose to talk to God or the Universe. No matter who you believe has your back; ultimately you have all the power. You have the power to choose which lifeline you hold onto. Is it the dingy those voices are throwing you or is it the rope of faith? You have the power to choose to fill your lungs with the water of doubt and fear or to swim with trust. Every single day you wake up and make choices. Some you don’t even realize you’re making. When you find yourself drowning, overtaken by what ifs, being buried alive; you choose your next move. Nobody else. God, the Universe, Goddess, whatever your beliefs are, they’re all there.
They always have been.
They don’t leave.
But you have to make the choice. You either choose to grab hold of the rope they’re throwing you or you let those other voices pull you down. Down into the dark abyss. Down to the bottom of the sea where the rest of the world is so far away you can only hear those voices. Down where nobody can reach you.
I choose to take the leap of faith. I relinquish control. I release all that doesn’t serve me. I become open and ready to receive the help I need. I’m open and honest about my strengths and weaknesses. I expose my vulnerabilities. I learn to swim. I learn when to hold onto the life raft. I learn when to let go. That way, when the tsunamis of life hit, I have faith that we’ll all survive.