Living with faith is like catching birds.
I used to hold a limited concept of trusting a higher power. My concept was very mathematical ; i.e. A + B = C, and if it didn’t, then I had done something wrong. Unpredictable as it is, life upset this view several times. When a plan went right, or a prayer was answered, I clung tightly. When something made its exit from my life, I wondered “what have I done wrong?”, or “what part of the equation did I miss?”.
Relationships failed, career paths and education goals fell flat, and I felt forsaken. Either forsaken, or like I didn’t know how to please this God of my understanding in order to get my way. I would become fixated on either getting or keeping something that I believed to be right for me. When it didn’t work out, I assumed I had done something wrong, and that losing out was my punishment. I didn’t consider that what I wanted was not my highest path. That losing out on what I wanted so badly could actually be a win.
In 2016 my chosen career path bottomed out. I was deeply disappointed in myself. Later that year I lost all faith, and for a period returned to a sordid way of life. After months of pain, I surrendered to a power greater than myself and a new way of life. Still, my ideas were finite. I tried to return to school, but finances didn’t allow. I stumbled my way through two sick romantic relationships. I gave hours of my life to a meaningless job.
It seemed that all of my new ideas and adventures were failing miserably. Surely, I thought, God is not giving me what I want because I am missing some piece of the equation. The old A + B = C was proving to be untrue.
At the time, I felt a lot of frustration, sadness, and anger. The best I could do was hang on, muster whatever faith I could, and seek the next indicated action. I spent as much time as I could in introspection. There had to be a better way.
Eventually, I opened to the idea that maybe I don’t know what’s best for me. Maybe trusting a higher power is less about sending it invoices, and more about believing that what is truly meant for me is already on its way.
As time allowed for new and better experiences to come forth, I saw in hindsight that what I was receiving now was better than what I had pursued in the past. Failed relationships made room for an improved one with myself. The end of a lease created an opportunity for me to meet a new roommate, now one of my best friends. Not being able to pay for school years ago led me to enrolling with a better one today.
I have started to view “losing” things as a divine occurrence just the same as “gaining” things. When something doesn’t pan out the way I anticipate, instead of ramming my head against the wall begging “why God?”, I say “thank you”, and move forward.
I’ve found that when I am rooted in a deep sense of security, I am more interested in what I am bringing to the table versus what lay for the taking. Instead of plotting the future, I have found peace in leaning into the present moment. Life is volatile and unpredictable. Just when I think I know something, everything changes. Having faith does not mean that I get what I want and in my time frame. Having faith means that I live with a certainty that I will be okay, that I will be provided for, in spite of the failures or losses. Having faith gives me the freedom to explore, and to experience all that is available to me.
Faith is like catching birds. I practice experiencing my life as if I were sitting with an open palm, waiting patiently for a bird to land. I choose the bench, time of day, the park. My power lies in adjusting myself to the environment. Whether or not a bird will land, though, is not exactly up to me. The moments which a bird does land, I get to take in all its beauty. There is no need to close my hand tightly around it, my only goal is to experience. There is no specific bird I am after; the whole point is to behold as many birds as I have time for. When one flies away, I don’t feel panic — rather, I feel gratitude for one experience, and am hopeful toward the next.