I know that the word “Faith” can be a loaded word and I want to start off by saying: No, I’m not going to try to convert you to a religion.
I’m not even a religious person. If I am anything, I am a spiritual person. But I’m still trying to learn what that term even means. I still stand firmly by skepticism, reason, and the scientific method, and that won’t go away any time soon. But I also know that life is hard. And sometimes we need to reach for something beyond what we see before us to move us through it.
Now, I am about to do something that I don’t think I’m supposed to do, but I’m about to take the term “faith” and extract it from any religious, spiritual, or even atheist context. I’m going to be talking about “faith” today as a concept all on its own. Like patience, or persistence, or doubt. For the moment, I’m also going to remove “faith” from any association from a god, the universe, the spirit, the source, what have you. Not because it should or shouldn’t be associated with those terms, but because I think it is interesting to focus on faith as its own, singular phenomenon.
Whereas Hope is the belief that things can get better, Faith is the knowing that things will get better.
You may be asking the question: Well what does faith have to do with writing?
If you assert that faith has nothing to do with the writing process, I would have been the very first one to agree with you–until about 9 months ago, when I started writing my novel.
Sometimes, as a writer, you are acting on pure, unadulterated, faith. A knowing that your position as a writer will get better.
Hope isn’t enough. Just believing things will get better is not enough. You have to KNOW that it WILL get better.
But faith is a thing that can be threatened. It can be weakened, especially by those around us who have trouble keeping the faith. This is why I think it is interesting to extract faith from a religious context. Because I have known heavily religious people who lack faith, and I have known people who don’t have a spiritual or religious bone in their body, and yet have such a strong sense of faith in humanity and the world, that it is almost awe-inspiring. Meanwhile, as a country, and as a civilization as a whole, we are losing faith. We are losing the knowing–the certainty–that things are improving for the better.
Recently, I was pondering the following question: how do we writers strengthen our faith? Because when we lose faith in ourselves and our path, we can easily give up and throw in the towel.
Now, I’ve come up with some ideas to help us, but I want to hear your ideas, too. I think this is an issue of concern for all of us, and especially writers, who have to confront rejection, disappointment, and despair more often than most people. Here are ways we writers can strengthen our faith–the certainty that life is moving in the direction of our personal well-being.
3 Ways To Strengthen Your Faith in Yourself and Your Journey
- Examine Your Personal Experience. Was there another time when you thought you were at your last rope, or things were just not looking good, and then they improved? Chances are you will find proof of this over and over again in your life, that the moment things went wrong, things began to go right. Your suffering either helped you grow or it taught you an important lesson. Deepak Chopra refers to the suffering of life as a “divine discontent.” He says that if we did not have suffering, we would have no creativity, we would not move, we would not grow. A little suffering is necessary for life. Think about it. A world without suffering would remain stagnant and frozen. A world with suffering allows us to grow, to become closer, to become kinder, gentler, and brings us to feel our interconnectedness. Our one heart. Find a moment when you suffered and were healed, then ask yourself: “How different am I now because I suffered?” Chances are, you are wiser and better off because of that pain. Have faith that your current suffering will serve you in the future.
- Put Your Situation In Context. I recently commented on fellow bloggers site and made a bold statement. I said that this was the best time for humanity in the entire history of the world. I don’t think I’m wrong either. If you examine the entire history of our collective human suffering, there are whole ages where we as a society suffered much more than we do now. I don’t have to list them because I am sure you know which tragic events in history I am talking about. Did these ages of suffering last? No, they did not. They passed. Suffering and war gave way to happiness and peace. If you take the long view, you can see that we are becoming more and more equal, more and more free, more and more accepting of each other. A report in a recent Time Magazine article even noted that, in the last decade, the amount of people living in poverty in the world was cut in half. Humanity must be doing something right after all. The concentration of the wealth of the world used to be in the hands of a couple dozen of kings. Today the wealth is a bit more spread out. Sure, we can do better, but it is clear, without argument, that humanity is going in an overall good direction. Your journey as a writer is a part of that overall move to the greater good. As you can see, you just have to look at history to realize that faith isn’t some fuzzy, abstract notion, but an idea powered by real, concrete facts.
- Realize That There Are No Experts. Not even me. I’m not sure why it is, but when someone calls themselves an “expert” we throw away all skepticism and believe every word they say, even if their message is full of doom and gloom–and these days, it often is. Remember now, these “experts” are just human. Just like you and me, and they don’t know everything. There are no soothsayers. No one has a crystal ball. The only expert that really exists is you. You know from living life that the world works in an obvious pattern. Night and Day. Up goes down. Dark becomes light. When it rains, it pours, yes, but eventually it’s going to have to stop raining. It’s just common sense. You know it will all work out eventually. You know because you’ve seen it, time and time again, and you don’t need an expert to tell you otherwise. It may be hard to be a writer now, but you know, you’ve always known, that one day, it will get better. Without a doubt. And that’s faith.