Faith is hard.
LOL & also UGH…
Harvesting the fruits of faith is difficult even though they are among the sweetest of things.
Faith, in one estimation, is the belief that something WILL happen without having absolute PROOF that it will. Faith means walking a path that hasn’t been walked before, but knowing that THAT path is the correct one. Faith asks us to view successes and failures as, ultimately, one aggregate success. Faith, like the story about Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, requires nothing of us and everything of us at the same time. It is an unbearable weight that is simultaneously light as a feather.
I’m reminded of Zeno’s Paradoxes when I think of Faith.
In one of his paradoxes, Zeno posits that movement and time do not exist. He asks us to imagine a race between Achilles and a tortoise where the tortoise has had a great head start.
In order for Achilles to catch up to the slow beast he has to make it half way there first. Before he can make it halfway, he must run a quarter of the way there. Before that… he has to make it an 1/8 of the way… In this way Zeno proves that movement is impossible because the half way point of an infinite number of points is infinite!
We can never start running a race because the possibility of an infinite number of movements holds us back (It can also be stated that since this is an observable falsehood, Zeno’s real point is that movement is an illusion and so is time and space [since we can divide all of these infinitely] and we project our internal experience of the universe onto the universe itself as we try to grapple with said universe…but I digress).
Faith is difficult because we are sensory creatures that live in a concrete world. However, this world is unpredictable and chaotic at times. We ask faith to give us a downpayment, show some proof or evidence… so we can more easily invest in a more stable future or universe. And guess what faith tends to say??? Nope… Either believe in me or don’t…
It’s a more difficult version of those 3-D posters that you either see or don’t see and if you don’t see the image… you might get frustrated easily. LOL
In my current role in life, I am brought in to classrooms and asked to coach teachers in an onward and upward direction. Because each teacher, campus, and district appear to have different needs… there are a variety of starting points, variable, etc. to consider.
While there are certainly concrete sets of questions and strategies one can use to coach a teacher, it has to begin with relationship building. And relationship building is a two way street paved by trust which is the by product of faith.
Faith, then, is at the core of every single relationship between any two people. Faith is that leap into a net that is hidden somewhere below you. You know you’ll get caught by something, but how long will you have to drop before you feel supported? Once the support is felt, the trust begins to take root and the relationship grows. Once it begins to grow, observations can be made in a safe environment that leads to quantifiable data that can be discussed and course corrections can be offered and/or made.
But first, faith.
How do we instill faith in someone? You can’t… I don’t believe. We arrive at Zeno’s paradoxes when we try to plan for the infinite and faith either is or isn’t. Faith either is infinite or it does not exist.
So what of faith?
I think… I believe… that we make ourselves vulnerable to the people we seek faith from first. We take that first step and open up ourselves in some manner and (unlike Zeno and his infinite paralysis) we follow Abraham (in a less violent way) and walk a path that we have never walked before as we’re guided by articles of belief (that deny being proven in the here and now).
When I look around me I am constantly taking in information from my surrounding. In a sort of socio-emotional way, I’m like the terminator where I’m scanning for what IS and then trying to extrapolate what might be. I see the visible and I guess at the invisible. This is the opposite of faith and I struggle mightily at times with vulnerability.
I admire empathetic people because they have the ability to resonate with what others are going through to a deeper level than I can perceive. I learn from empaths and, while I’m not sure I can ever become an empath, I know that I can develop skills that will allow me to mirror what it is that they do naturally. I have found that I more easily make myself vulnerable and ammready to grow when I have support and I tend to find support in those who are not like me… specifically empathic people.
But growth sometimes happens in fits and lurches and it isn’t always pretty. But, if the growth tends toward a good goal and there is support and there are positive assumptions about the growth, then the fits and lurches necessarily are positive.
Which reminds me… I watched a butterfly tear through its cocoon one times (I had bought some for my kids) and I felt exhausted at the end of the process. But it is in the nature of the butterfly to go through that process to become fully actualized. That exhaustive effort is as much part of the definition of what it is to be a butterfly as the wings, flying, and cocoons.
Unlike butterflies though, we create our own cocoons and constructive struggles and possibly our very own natures. We choose our paths and we choose our struggles.
Because there is no playbook to life… we create ourselves by recognized/unrecognized acts of faith and that requires recognized/unrecognized acts of vulnerability. Vulnerability is like jumping into a cold pool… you really can’t just ease into it.
To be an effective coach, we have to expose ourselves to teachers who wonder why we are in their classroom. To create trust we must have faith and to have faith we must be open and vulnerable to those we want to trust us.
I might even take it further… any healthy relationship requires an openness to vulnerability that (for me at least) is simultaneously light and heavy, difficult and easy, simple and complex. But like the 3-D poster above… it either is chaotic or it’s in order. I can’t be both AT THE SAME TIME and a choice must be made. You make it easy or you make it difficult and that’s a lesson I’ve learned recently. You make a choice and you go with it.
Planning for faith is like Achilles racing against a turtle… you’ll never finish the race.