Now that we’ve defined what faith isn’t, let’s talk about what it is.
Faith is the knowledge that we are all connected through God.
Gaining that knowledge is the lesson that we are put here on earth to learn.
We have already established that we are all connected through God. The knowledge of that connection is what faith is. As you can see, it is a present circumstance. It is not a forward-looking hope for something better. It is a knowledge of what is the almighty.
It is easy to say that we know something, but to really know it in our heart is different. I don’t claim to be anything special, and even as I write this book, I continue to have doubts and fears. Theoretically, once we have fully come to understand our connection with the almighty, there would be no further need for such doubts and fears.
Facing the challenges of our life with open minds is what gives us the opportunity to attain this knowledge. Think about it. If you face a difficulty successfully and survive it, you have learned that you can survive the burdens you must face. Facing them again and again, you will start to see a pattern. That pattern is the guidance you are getting from the almighty. Identifying the pattern and understanding it is what will ultimately bring you faith.
When I went though my greatest crisis of faith in my late teens and early twenties, what ultimately brought me through that crisis was looking back on the challenges I faced during that period. Repeatedly, when things seemed at their bleakest, something unexpected would happen that would save my bacon. Oftentimes, the result of that rescue was far more exciting than the goal I had been pursuing in the first place. Looking back on my difficulties, it seemed like there was too much order to these rescues for them to be totally at random. This was my first indication that there was something going on that I couldn’t understand.
The next step in building faith came in starting to recognize the opportunities before I repeatedly hit my head against the wall fighting them. I remember during one of my first jobs after college, I was working for a Congressman in Washington. I was working like a Trojan to set up a hearing in New Hampshire for a certain weekend, but one thing after another got in my way from setting up that event. Ultimately, we had to reschedule. On the newly scheduled date, everything came together very well. It just so happened that the weekend when the event finally occurred was the weekend a new presidential candidate was opening up his campaign in my boss’s district. At least in part as a result of my work on the hearing, I ended up landing a job in that presidential campaign.
Had the hearing come off as originally planned, I would not have been present at the right time to get the job I really wanted in a presidential campaign. I worked so hard to try to force the hearing to happen when I wanted it to happen. But the universe, the almighty, God, whatever you want to call it, was against me. It didn’t matter what I did, that hearing was not going to happen on the weekend as originally scheduled. But because of the delay, I had the opportunity presented to me that I really wanted.
You can call this randomness, or just the way things worked out. Some might say that I am a “significance junkie,” attaching too much meaning to meaningless events. But we have been blessed with a brain that can recognize patterns, and this kind of development has happened way too many times in my life for it to be totally at random. Again and again, at the moment I was most desperate, often despite my best efforts to the contrary, things worked out for me in ways I could not have imagined. Recognizing that pattern was the first step on my learning experience toward faith.
Since then, my efforts have focused on recognizing, and even looking for the messages I receive from the almighty before I beat my head against the wall. I have come to realize that I am continually receiving messages from all around me. I may wake up in the morning with a solution to a problem in my head. I may get an unexpected phone call that resolves another problem. When I am desperate for money, a check shows up. Or sometimes, when I am desperate for money, a check doesn’t show up. And in retrospect, I realize that was an opportunity I was better off to let pass. Looking and listening for those messages all around us is the next step toward faith.
You can see how comforting faith can be as we face the challenges all around us. Knowing that you are receiving messages guiding you to the correct outcome makes our challenges seem less scary. Knowing that the challenges we are facing are guiding us to something better makes facing those challenges seem worthwhile. And if it seems like you are beating your head against the wall but getting nowhere, you might be getting the message to try something else. Knowing that fact also can be a huge comfort if it seems like something isn’t working out for you the way you hoped. Finally, knowing that we are all in this together, and that everybody has their own burden to carry can help you realize that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side.