When the word faith is brought up, you might be the “oh no” type of person who rolls their eyes and grimaces at the recollection of childhood Sundays being dragged to church when you’d rather have been watching football or playing outside. You had to wear that stupid button-up shirt with those pressed slacks, and your mother combed your hair to the side. Or you had to wear that frilly dress and those stockings that you absolutely hated. And those berets in your hair!
Religious ceremonies and religion itself are what most people associate with faith. But, faith does not necessarily need a spiritual connotation. While one of the definitions of faith is having a belief in the existence of God and adhering to religious customs, it’s not the main definition. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, faith is having a “strong belief or trust in someone or something.” A belief in someone or something doesn’t necessarily need to be an external source, a God, an answer and or solution to your unhappiness that exists outside of yourself.
So many times, we seek and turn to an external source to make us happy. We feel that if we could only obtain a degree, a big job title, have a child, get married, earn more money, or buy that dream house that we’ll realize happiness. Whether we admit these as conscious or unconscious desires, our motive is usually always the same. People who turn to external sources can find themselves facing down addiction, whether that be to drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, work, shopping, plastic surgery, hoarding, technology, etc. You get the point. People binge on a wide variety of things in an effort to numb themselves and to ultimately, they think, become happy.
Everyone is seeking happiness, joy, fulfillment, bliss and gratification— whatever you wish to call it. Individuals escaping into unhealthy addictions experience a temporary relief from emotional pain or circumstances they don’t want to face. They temporarily escape and for a few hours try to experience immediate pleasure in an effort to forget whatever ails them. They trigger dopamine receptors in their brain, that feel good chemical your brain releases and all seems well with the world. Unfortunately, this quick spurt of false joy does not last. The law of gravity kicks in, and what comes up must come down.
If you think about it, many of our goals are external in nature. The most popular goal that almost everyone has on their New Year’s resolution list is to lose weight. Wanting to lose weight is all about body image and how you feel about yourself when you look in the mirror. It’s the body that we want to change. Most people with a New Year’s resolution to lose weight don’t say, “My goal this year is to change the relationship I have with food by changing the way that I think.” Instead, they say that they need to hit the gym more and go on a diet to lose that extra 15 pounds they packed on over the previous year.
They might start off with good intentions. But, because their plans are only on the result and not the internal cause most people end up gaining all the weight back, plus some. Why? They didn’t focus on the cause, just the effect. They also didn’t have faith in themselves to persevere. When you seek external solutions to an internal problem, you might find a temporary Band-Aid to cover up the problem. But, the wound is not healed and the issue is left unresolved. You end up gaining back the weight. You end up in another bad relationship. You end up obtaining a degree, only to find yourself still feeling unsatisfied in your job.
When you reach out for external solutions, what you are really saying is that you don’t believe that you have the answer. You don’t believe that you need to look within and conduct an investigation of the interpersonal things in your life that could use some adjusting. You think that a bad relationship ended because it was the other person’s fault. You think that when you don’t reach your goal, it was God’s will and you think it had nothing to do with your own effort, circumstances, timing or anything else. Looking within means “faithing” your obstacle— in other words, believing that you have immense amount of power over your universe.
You are in charge of your universe, your life and the direction you wish to take it. You are the one who will and should be held accountable for your failures as well as your successes, not some outside external source to blame or point the finger at. When you tackle your weaknesses, the areas in which you need growth, you need to change your beliefs and truly do some soul searching. You are taking ownership of your life. You are no longer allowing external elements, circumstances, conditions and people to run your life.
Faith is believing in something or someone. How about you believe in yourself?