For my boys and me, the summer is officially over. They came back home last night, and school begins on Thursday. The time has come to get back into a normal routine, and let go of the freedoms the Summer lends us. Already the busy season is picking back up, with school orientations, doctor appointments, party planning, filling out paperwork and adding things to my calendar with two alerts to make sure I don’t forget them. I’m back to meal planning, chore scheduling, and enforcing the rules of the responsibility board. I’m back in the swing of being a full-time mom.
I did, however, get to have one last hurrah over the weekend in St Louis with two of my closest gal pals. Andrea, Caitlin and I went to Grub and Groove in Francis Park where we ate, drank, listened to bands play and played in the bubbles like five-year-olds. We went to The Muny to see Meet Me in St Louis – my favorite movie – performed live right in the heart of Forest Park, the exact location of the 1904 World’s Fair around which the musical is centered. It ended with fireworks, and was the experience of a lifetime that I will always cherish. The next morning we had breakfast at Rooster, then Caitlin and I made the nearly two hour trek back to Cape Girardeau.
Once I was home, I had down time to reflect and think about what my theme for this week’s Life Talks post would be. It came to me pretty quickly, because it is something that has been on my mind a great deal lately–having faith.
It doesn’t matter your religious beliefs–religious, agnostic, atheist, undecided, or any other variation of spirituality–faith is a necessary quality to walk us through life. We have to have faith, because there are always going to be things that we cannot know, and cannot have answers to. There will always be things that we can’t predict, or be in control of. There will always be things that scare us…maybe a little or maybe a lot. The only way through during those times is to walk through them in faith.
I, personally, am a believer in Christ. Specifically I am a Catholic, albeit not the most practiced in my faith. One thing is certain, however–I believe that God has a plan laid out for my life. And I believe that when the resistance is too great, to the point that no matter what I do I cannot make my way to my intended destination, that is the time when I need to take a step back from it and let Him guide me. I will also readily admit that I am not the best at realizing when that moment has arrived, because I am nothing if not stubborn and strong-willed. But that is a topic for another day.
Nothing worth truly having in life comes easy. All of the most rewarding moments and successes in our lives usually come after intense work, facing great fears and some coinciding hardships. There are times when we are tested and presented with obstacles. It is how we surpass those obstacles that determines our fate. If we don’t accept the challenge because we are afraid of it, or don’t believe that we can succeed, then we can’t move forward. We see that obstacle as a road block, and turn back rather than working to find a way past it.
Sometimes, however, even when we work our absolute hardest to get around the obstacle that we’re presented with, we just can’t seem to make it. When we are trying, struggling, pushing, and nothing we do seems to be getting us through, or is maybe even making things worse, that is when we need to stop, step back, and look at the bigger picture.
If you find yourself asking, “why is this so difficult? Why is nothing I am doing working?”, perhaps it’s because you are so focused on what you want, that you’re resisting what is actually supposed to be. Maybe you’re trying to force yourself in a direction that you aren’t intended to go. Maybe you’re afraid to do the one thing you need to do in order to succeed.
Sometimes it’s necessary to set your feelings aside and look at the facts that are in front of you. What is standing in the way? Is there anything that you can do about it? Is there a way to change it? If you can’t, then perhaps whatever you’re trying so hard for isn’t meant for you. Or maybe it is, but just not right now, in this moment, with this person, in this place, or in this particular situation. And if you can change it, but you’re afraid to take the risk…then maybe the answer is to look past the fear.
This is where faith comes in. I will be the first to admit that I struggle with this. Friends, let me tell you about me… My middle name is Nicole, but I should have it legally changed to Determined. I do not easily give up on anything, and that seems to go double for the moments of greatest resistance. Let me tell you where that gets me every single time–stressed.
Faith is something I struggle with, because it means releasing control. It means trusting in things to work out as they’re meant to instead of how I think they should. It means being vulnerable and having the courage to face my fears. It means trusting in God to know what’s best for me and to have my back. And by being determined to make things go the way I want them to, in the time that I want them, I’m often telling Him that I don’t trust Him to guide me.
Whatever your belief system may be, even if you don’t believe in a higher power at all, you will still find it helpful to have faith for one reason–peace. Often times when we are fighting to force our will to come to fruition, we are so deep in the situation that we can no longer see it. When we take a step back and let go of control for a while, it allows us to see the bigger picture and gain some clarity. This doesn’t usually come right away, but if you’re patient and give it time, that clarity always comes.
What you get in the meantime is peace of mind. You get time to recover from whatever you’ve been struggling with. You get the chance to heal. You regain your strength, so that when clarity arrives and your path begins to straighten out, you will be ready for it. You will, quite often, find that where you end up is not quite what you wanted or expected…but it’s almost always even better. This clarity and peace of mind comes so much more easily when you have a mindset of faith instead of fear or resistance.
If you believe in God, then trust Him. If you don’t believe in God, then at least trust yourself. Let go, and believe that things will work out. And if, when you do this, something you really wanted ends up leaving your life, then let it go. And if something you didn’t expect comes into your life, then let it come. If you find answers to questions you didn’t even know you were asking, be grateful for them. In the meantime, take care of yourself. Take care of your friends, family and relationships. Be healthy. Be whole. Be ready. Because when you have faith, something beautiful will come. I promise.