This is the first piece of a three-part article series examining Faith: what is it, why it matters, how to cultivate it.
Part 1: What is faith, anyway?
We constantly hear a lot about the importance of ‘having faith’, but what does that even really mean? Sure, it sounds nice in theory, but in practice? Well...that’s a whole other story.
Before we get started, let’s clear the air. It’s really common for people to automatically jump to religious interpretations upon hearing the word ‘faith’. However, while faith certainly is a component of religion, religion is not a requirement of faith.
Individuals who are religious may be comfortable with the link between the two, but I know that those who aren’t sometimes tend to shy away from the topic, given the undertones and implications of the word. Either way, stay with me, this article may provide a different perspective.
On that note, let’s cut to the chase and start our mini-guide to Faith 101, shall we? Feel free to put this on repeat in the background as you read :)
While cliche, I find that starting out with the dictionary definition of a word provides a solid, objective starting point off of which we can begin. According to Merriam-Webster, faith is defined as “firm belief in something for which there is no proof”, “complete trust”, “something that is believed especially with strong conviction”. It also goes so far as to offer up that “faith almost always implies certitude even where there is no evidence or proof.”
Are you noticing a common theme here?
There are three key components of faith that really stand out not only in this definition, but in my own personal understanding and interpretation of faith, which is one that combines my learnings from various teachers as well as my own personal insight and experience.
Those key components are:
- “no evidence or proof”
- “complete trust”
- “firm belief / strong conviction / certitude”
Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these as the basis of our discussion
No Evidence or Proof: In my opinion, this single component is the biggest reason humans struggle with faith. We live in an evidence-based culture in terms of decision-making or acting, and many of us tend to shy away from those things or people that have provided us with little or no evidence/proof that we should trust in them. We are all about ration, logic, proof, trends, testimonials, examples, customer reviews on Amazon, research studies, etc., which makes this by far the scariest and most mind-boggling component of faith for many.
Complete Trust: Many of us find ‘complete trust’ in life difficult to begin with, but when you add in the factor of no evidence or proof?! In most cases, you’ll lose the attention of 99% of the people in a room. However, this complete trust requires that we surrender our personal will to something bigger than ourselves.
Regardless of where you stand religiously, another critical component of faith is believing that some force, power, energy, science, or system (that is much bigger than our physical human selves) is at play. Then we must decide that if this “force” (use whatever word you prefer here) created us, it must be capable of arranging, organizing, providing, etc. what we need as well, as co-creators in this life.
Think about it this way: Close your eyes + imagine what TRULY trusting someone completely would look like. Would you constantly beg, plead, remind, poke, assume they are going to let you fall flat on your face, etc.? No -- yet so many of us do that with God / Universe / Life / Source… If you really had complete trust, you would trust (read: know) that they are going to do what was asked and you would learn to give them time and space to follow through.
Imagine this: you know 100% that whatever you ask for (or something even better than that) will be given but that you have to be patient and keep moving forward and taking action with the assumption that the particular piece of the puzzle you’re waiting on will be taken care of, THAT is what complete trust looks like. It’s delegating to another team member, the team being you + the force bigger than you (and maybe some other humans depending on what you’re working on).
Firm Belief / Strong Conviction / Certitude: Not only do we need unwavering trust in the uncertain, indefinite, unguaranteed unknown, but we also need to firmly believe in all of this. We can’t half-ass faith. This goes hand in hand with the complete trust component because complete trust in the unknown requires that you have a ridiculously strong conviction.
If you are wishy-washy in your belief, you will not act or live from a place of complete and total trust. Instead, you will continue to step in, in an effort to ensure or ‘will’ things to happen, rather than trusting your ‘teammate’ (the Universe) to do it’s part. Half-assing faith is a sure route to getting in the way of the Divine orchestration of your life.
Make sense? I know they were thorough explanations, but that’s because they’re simple concepts but not necessarily easy ones. The combination of the three things listed above, if truly integrated and embodied, are key to living a life with more faith.
Next up: Part 2 "Why Even Bother with Faith"
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Thanks to Ryann Pitcavage Collective Gain Coach, who authored this post. Ryann is a life coach who works with you to reduce your stress and anxiety in order to develop a renewed sense of what is possible; thereby, enabling you to make decisions with greater ease which makes room for the mental breathing room that is necessary in order to begin to make change happen. Request a consultation with Ryann.
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