I don’t particularly prescribe to the belief that the course of my life is dictated by fate. I don’t believe I am entirely powerless over my destiny. I suppose that I have substantial control to really foul up my own life. I’ve only done it a million or so times. Conversely, I know that I have the power to take positive action in my own life, as well. I can’t control outcomes, but I have command over the actions I take, and those I choose not to take. This is a beautiful dynamic—I have power to influence my own life. I have power to change myself. This power only extends as far as to relieve the burden of controlling and manipulating outcomes that are altogether outside of my own control.
I so desperately needed a practical faith to apply in my own life. This was it. Take positive action. The actions are particularly simple, but not always particularly easy. When I’m willing to take constructive action, I achieve affirmative results. They are not directly linked to the action, and certainly not proportionately correlated, but there is a connection there. I feel it every time.
The byproduct I crave more than anything else is serenity. I spent so much of my life (I still do) fighting invisible battles in my head. Regardless of the degree of physical exertion I’ve experienced in a given day, sometimes I am wholly depleted when the sun goes down because I’ve spent every waking moment waging invisible wars in my head. Inconsequential, perceived slights, such as somebody not thanking me for holding a door open for them, is cart blanc for an all-out war in my own head. I’d most often engage in mental trench warfare over my fears.
Fears are typically, for me, a poor representation of a reality I expect to come to fruition, reliant upon little to no real evidence. But they sure feel real. A mentor once explained to me that fears typically stem from three origins: fear of not getting what I want, fear of losing what I have, and the fear of what people think of me. I’ve experienced all of these throughout my life to varying degree, and they have, when I let them (which is a whole lot of the time), completely dominated my entire existence. Fear becomes so pervasive that it dictates nearly every action I take. In such a state, I rely upon fear-based action, rather than positive action. I am much more inclined to exhaust every resource to manipulate outcomes because I am so terrified that my fear will become reality. The truth is that I do very little, if anything at all, to influence reality in the ways endeavor to. Rather, I instigate indescribable collateral damage in every facet of my life. The harder I try, the more pain I inflict on myself and those around me. The fear gains greater influence the more I flail and flounder.
My faith, which is buoyed by and entirely reliant upon positive action, conflicts with this fear. My fear tells me that nothing will be okay. My faith, when I’m acting accordingly, is based in an absolute trust that everything will be okay. It is a peaceful heart and quiet mind. I don’t exist in that state all that often, and when I do arrive there, it is fleeting. But it is better than everything I’ve ever known. And I want more of it. My faith is that life will continue to be beyond my control—all around me, all the time—and that I will not only accept that reality, but I welcome my own powerlessness over it all because I know that everything will be okay. It’s all going to work out that way anyhow, so why not be okay with it?
It helps me to visualize things. I imagine my fear-based existence as sitting in a rowboat on a river. I am exhausting myself to the point of failure fighting to row against the current. Every muscle is screaming and cramping and locked up completely. I’m soaked in sweat that continues to pour from me. My labored breathing is starting to fail. I look over at the shoreline to gauge my progress. I have exerted every ounce of will and I am still slowly losing ground and floating downstream. The oars slap the water harder and splash and flail. Try though I might, I am losing.
My faith is letting go, pulling the oars into the boat, leaning back, and gliding through the water. I am no longer fighting the current of life, but instead flowing with it. I am going exactly where I am supposed to go. Sometimes the most profound action I can take is just to stop fighting. It doesn’t do any good, anyhow, because it’s all going to be okay.
This lesson changed my reality. I don’t ever have to accept powerlessness again. I don’t ever have to be a victim again. Unless I choose to. Please share your experiences of how you find faith that everything will be okay. Together we can take back the power to change ourselves and begin to build a better world.