I once heard someone say that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt. It’s certainty.
How many of us wait to feel certain before we take that first step? Whether we’re starting a new project, leaving a job, moving out of state or teaching a class, there’s a strong temptation to want to have everything mapped out before we make the first move.
Tiny problem #1: Life doesn’t seem to work that way! Have you noticed?
We don’t get to see the whole staircase or how many steps there are to get to the top. Instead, the staircase gets revealed to us one step at a time. (Btw: If I were in charge, I’d let us see at least 3 steps ahead. But I digress…)
The funny thing is–not ha ha funny but ironic funny–if we saw the whole staircase- or ok, even the first 3 steps- most of us would run screaming for the hills!
I remember years ago when I took an Outdoor Educator’s Course with NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School). I joined 18 other adventurous souls to go backpacking and rock climbing in Wyoming’s Absaroka Range. The trip was 24 days long and, at the outset, each of our packs weighed 90 pounds.
I can still remember what those first 5 minutes felt like when we started out. We were hiking up a very gentle slope when I turned to one of my friends and said “Oh my God! My buns are already burning and we’re not even out of sight of the bus yet! How in the hell am I going to survive this?!?” (she never responded, come to think of it).
The trip was demanding and parts of it were grueling. There were days I wanted to throw my boots over a cliff and go home.
Tiny problem #2: you can’t just hail a cab when you’re out in the wilds. Instead, on one fine day when I’d reached my absolute limit, I sat down on the ground and had a big long cry. After that I ate a snack and within about 30 minutes, I was ready to carry on. (True confession: this strategy still seems to work!)
The whole trip became an exercise in breaking things down into tiny steps, especially when going up steep mountain slopes. I learned about the ‘rest step’, a hiking technique where you pause slightly in between steps as a way to build in little breaks. This ensures you pace yourself properly which helps you sustain your energy.
With every step I took and every day that passed, I could feel myself getting stronger.
I’ve come to believe this is how faith gets built. It happens one little ‘rest step’ at a time. Faith in oneself, faith in the unseen, faith in a process where all the steps eventually lead you to the top of the staircase.
It’s a good thing I couldn’t see the whole staircase of that trip because I’d never have gotten off the bus! I would have been too intimidated and would have convinced myself I couldn’t do it.
As it happens, that experience goes down as one of the most rewarding times in my life. Not only was it a personal victory to complete it but the people I met were delightful and I got a hearty education in how to successfully navigate the wilderness. (Little did I know that years later, I’d be helping others navigate their ‘inner wilderness’. Ah, life.)
My guess is we all wish we could see the whole staircase of whatever it is we’re venturing into before we have to take the first step.
But then, how would we ever develop faith?
Faith gets built because we don’t have certainty, not because we do.
What steps are you taking that are helping you build faith in yourself, in things unseen, in a process that’ll take you to the top of your staircase?
You know I love hearing from you. I’m all ears. Xo