“Faith is the bird that feels the light even when the dawn is still dark.” – R. Tagore
As defined, faith is a strong belief in someone or something. If you trust a person or object, you believe in their/its ability to be who or what you know them to be. In other words, you have faith in them/it. For example, I trust that the ladder will support me as I climb to reach the top shelf because I believe it is designed correctly. Therefore, I can say I have faith in the ladder. If a person has proven to be trustworthy in their character and actions over time, you might say you have faith that they will be there for you when you need them.
Do you have faith in yourself?
But what about having faith in yourself? Do you have confidence that you can do what you are designed to do? Why do we believe in our own abilities less than we believe in others? Sometimes it is because we cannot see ourselves as clearly as we can see others. Other times, it might be because our fears and doubts blur our ability to see all the great qualities that exist within us. In my opinion, it is probably a little of both.
There is another side of having faith in yourself that can be even harder: having faith in your ability to achieve greater or do better than where you are now. Our past experiences and patterns often make us think that who we are now is who we will be forever. Most times that lack of confidence starts when we look at the sum of what we want or need to achieve. It looks insurmountable.
It’s like buying a 50,000-piece puzzle. You can see the complete picture to build but the process to get there feels overwhelming. You cannot imagine how you are going to put all these pieces together to get to that final product.
That’s the problem: we focus on how huge the task is instead of just starting with a few small pieces. You might not have confidence in your ability to lift 300 pounds at one time, but if you start with 20 pounds and build over time, you will eventually get to the goal.
Faith is built through action
A few years ago, I asked God to help me discover everything I am supposed to accomplish in this lifetime and to help me have the patience, willingness, and courage to complete it. Yet, even after those prayers, I hesitated to move forward. I was praying for the big picture but not starting with even the small pieces in front of me.
My prayer essentially went something like this…
Me: “God, I just want to know that you are going to be with me. I know that if you destined this path for me then everything will ultimately work out. I trust you, God.”
God: “Yes, this is the path I ordained for you. I am with you and will always be with you.”
Me: “Thank you God, but I just need to know that you will be there for me if I start this. So, will you?”
Every day it was the same version of this cyclical prayer. Unfortunately, repeated reassurance still didn’t give me the confidence to move full steam ahead down the path. Something was wrong and it wasn’t God; it was me. I wanted confirmation that my strengths and abilities were enough to protect me from failure and the hard moments, which is very unrealistic. It’s like I wanted a guarantee that if I put the effort into building this 50,000-piece puzzle I will get to the big picture.
But, the process is where you build faith. Once you build a few pieces, you gain the strength to build more. I did not need prayer (although, that’s very important), I needed to stop procrastinating and get busy with one piece at a time.
You have what you need inside of you
Consider this parent-child exchange:
Parent: “You are so capable, strong, and loved. I believe in you and I want you to reach for the stars. Just know that I have your back every step of the way. You are never alone because I support you.”
Child: “I know. But, I am still scared and afraid that things will not work out. I know you love me and believe in me, but I just can’t do it.”
Parent: “Trust me! You CAN do it and I am in your corner! Haven’t I always been there for you? Listen, I am very proud of you and I will continue to be proud of you even if you fail.”
Child: “Yes, you have always been there for me, but I don’t know what will happen if I fail. I don’t think I have enough in me to do this. I love you too, but I just can do it.”
That is a sad dialogue. The parent can see what the child is capable of but the child will not believe it. How often are we like that child? To start to build your faith, start changing the way you speak about and to yourself. You are CAPABLE and you CAN do it! [Click here to read more about ways to change your negative self-talk!]
Have faith in your preparation
What about this coach-athlete exchange?
Coach: “You have so much talent and ability. If you are committed to the training, you will go very far. You can do it.”
(Athlete goes through weeks of training, is committed to the process, and begins seeing improvement in practice). Now it’s game day…
Coach: “You ready? Let’s do this! You are prepared. Now, all you have to do is execute what we practiced. Go get ’em!”
(Athlete gets out there, observes the competition, and begins to doubt him/herself and the coach’s words.)
Coach: “What the heck happened out there? You are better than that performance today.”
Athlete: I got overwhelmed and they were so much better than me. It threw me off!
Doubt will make you question your preparedness and cause you to look down on your progress. The athlete questioned whether the coach was just pumping them up because that’s their job or if they were really prepared. No pep talk can outweigh preparation. Everything you go through is preparing you for exactly where you need to be. But, you can’t skip the workout and preparation and wonder why you don’t have faith in yourself.
Most of what we need to take those first steps toward our scariest goals are already inside of us. The goal is to start believing that you are strong and have enough inside of you to show up and take the first step.
Start building the puzzle one piece at a time. That is faith.