My friend and awesome fellow creative, Nikki Floreno, is launching a Kickstarter to fund her first book, “Amelia the Flying Cat”, a story about trying, failing, and learning who we are in the process. I’ve been able to follow along on this book’s journey since last year, and can tell you it is an amazing book for children of all ages. You can find more information on the book at Fables & Fauna, and you can contribute to the Kickstarter here.
In honor of Amelia’s journey, and Nikki’s own daring undertaking, I felt inspired to write on leaps of faith.
I wonder sometimes if it would surprise people to find out that I’ve never really considered myself the daring type. If you’ve followed along with this blog for the past year, or with my social media or the past few, you might know that I’ve taken more than a few leaps of faith recently, not all of them successful. But that really is a recent addition. I was never the kid to take risks, to challenge the rules, or do anything unexpected. I was the smart kid and the good child, and those two things shaped most of what I was and how I presented myself to the world.
But I realized recently that that’s not really who I am anymore. I’m still smart, of course, probably a little too much, and I still have a lot of “perfect child” tendencies rattling around in my brain. But I’m no longer the one to not take risks.
And I wish I could say I was totally okay with that. I wish the experiences of the past few years had made me a braver person, one who doesn’t hesitate when life hands him a challenge, a problem he can’t see the bottom of. But that’s not the case.
In many ways, my experiences have made me more anxious about the unknown, not less. I remember the times I’ve failed, or what has felt so much like failure, in the last year alone, and I wonder if I even deserve to take risks anymore.
I’m realizing more and more these days that the picture I got of faith, from the places that ought to have known what it was, was not really faith at all. It was more like a right ordering of your life. The subtext through every lesson was: “do this and it’ll work out, and if it doesn’t, you’re not trying hard enough.” Looking back, I’m starting to wonder if it wasn’t a coincidence that for me and my family, people who have always tried their hardest, it never really seemed to “work out” like it was supposed to.
Because that’s not faith. Faith is an embracing of the unknown, recognizing it for what it is, and choosing to act anyways. It is deeper and wider and so much scarier than what I was taught, but also so much better, I’m learning. Though, even now, I know I’ve only scratched the surface.
Above all, faith is trying. Not because we know we won’t fail, that’s not faith. Faith is trying knowing we just might, and I’m learning the oh so hard to swallow truth that faith is trying again even after we do.
And that’s hard, and I know “hard” doesn’t even begin to describe it. When you fall again and again, especially when you have so much faith that this time will work, it’s the hardest thing in the world to pick yourself up and try again. It feels almost impossible sometimes.
The good news is, though, that we don’t have to by ourselves.
The personal aspect of faith is always going to be paramount. If we don’t believe in ourselves, we really won’t be able to do it. But the truth I am so glad to find proven over and over in my life is that I don’t have to be the only who has faith. My faith doesn’t have to be the only thing that holds me up.
I’ve always been good about believing in other people. It’s one of the few things I can brag about myself without hesitation. But, in true me fashion, it’s something that has rarely been easy to accept for myself. I believe in people; I have a hard time believing that people believe in me. It’s a bad habit that I’m trying to break, and for good reason. Because we need people.
We can’t take these leaps alone. We need people to get us to the edge, to help us have the courage to leap off, and, blessedly, to help us pick ourselves up when we fall. It’s hard to let people be that for us. Beyond the embarrassment, we’re afraid that if we let them have faith in us, we will inevitably disappoint them. We will make a mockery of their faith.
But if faith is trying and failing and trying again, then it’s also believing, being disappointed, and believing still. It’s having faith in ourselves and in the faith people have in us. We may doubt, we may wonder why, we may be afraid we’ll let them down, but we still do it.
Sometimes the greatest leap of faith is asking other people to believe in us.
But, sometimes, the greatest thing happens we do. We find they actually do believe in us, and through that, we find we can fly, even when we fail.
It’s something I’m still learning. There are days when anxiety screams so loud that all the people who love me are really disappointed in me. But there are times, so unexpected, when it pays off. When someone says to you the thing you absolutely need to hear in that moment, that counteracts all the lies.
When someone believes in you, you find you can believe in yourself a little bit more.