When my One Word for 2021 came to me, I pushed it away. Faith? That word is so soft, I thought. In 2020, my word was Surrender and challenged me big time. I wanted another word that would do the same. Little did I know…
As the word faith kept coming up for me and I finally accepted it, I made time to think about what it really meant to me. I realized that although I had done a lot of surrendering in 2020, I hadn’t necessarily believed or trusted that God would provide. That would be the hard work for the year…to believe and to trust no matter what the circumstances. To make room for God to do His work and His part instead of making plans and forcing things to happen. I needed to create a new dynamic in my life when it came to discernment, decision making and taking action. One that was co-created with God and others, not just me.
As I started this new journey, the first thing I learned is that I needed more space and time in order to live faithfully. I was running from activity to activity, rushing around and not leaving room to check in, ask, listen or reflect. I needed time in the morning to prepare, think and pray. Before making a decision, I needed time check in. After something didn’t go right, I needed time to review and reflect so I could learn and re-center on the next right thing to do. Even in the midst of taking action, I needed more time and space to check in to be sure I was on the right path. Circumstances change, we change and we have to go back to be sure that what we planned to do still makes sense.
The second lesson I learned is that I have to have a routine to reroot in faith. I have to have a practice. Because of my life experiences and cultural conditioning, my natural state is fear. I have to remind myself that I am safe, I can trust myself, others and God. I have to consciously practice coming back to this place because most of the messages confronting me all day are the opposite. We are taught to try to control everything. We are told that if we fail we are a failure. We are confronted with messages for most of the day telling us that we aren’t enough and that we aren’t safe from people trying to sell us something.
There were days I woke up full of fear and doubt. Instead of succumbing to those thoughts and feelings, I filled my heart and mind with messages that I needed to faithfully step forward and keep going. Messages that quieted that fear and doubt. I spent time with people who also filled me with these positive perspectives and messages. It took a lot of effort and shifted my morning and evening routine as well as who I spent time with quite dramatically this year. With these new frameworks and systems in place, fear was no longer controlling me. I was free to live in faith as long as I stayed diligent with my practices.
The third lesson I learned is that I don’t need to understand the entire plan, I just need to understand the next right thing to do. In building a business and just navigating all of the changes and uncertainty we have faced this year, I shifted my mindset on what it means for me to have a plan. I spend a lot of time thinking about my intentions. What I want to do. Who I want to be. What matters most. How I spend my time, money and energy. I build a plan around my intent, but in years past, I left no room for adjustments and pivots. I stuck to the plan at all costs. Faith has taught me a healthier way of living and working. Build the plan, take the first step, then take a pause to look up and evaluate: what’s working and what isn’t, what has changed, etc. before you take the next step.
As I have done this, I have watched opportunities open up better than I ever could have dreamed to put in the plan. I wonder how many times in my life I have blown past those doors that God had opened for me because I was so focused on my own plan. I wasn’t checking in with Him about what He wanted for me, what He had planned for me. I was trying to fly solo. I have found so much more fun, joy and excitement in this new way of co-creating with God.
Another powerful lesson I learned this year is that no matter how tough things get, I have everything and everyone I need to figure it out. The old me would tell you that I faced a lot of failure this year. Things didn’t go as planned, plans flopped, doors closed, etc. Faith has taught me that it’s only failure if you don’t learn from it or if you stay stuck in resistance. I let go of a lot of hopes, dreams, ideas and picked myself up from some things that didn’t go well. I learned how to let go and make room for the bigger and better things that lie ahead and that God has in store. I learned how to pick up the pieces and pivot a bit from the plan to find even greater success and joy than I could have expected.
Even in the deepest and darkest valleys, I leaned into keeping the faith. I reached in, up and out. I broke a longstanding pattern of doing things all on my own (another thing I am working to turn into a consistent practice). As I listened to myself, checked in with God and gained new perspectives from others, things opened back up and light back up. Faith taught me that although we each have our own life to live, that we were never meant to do it alone.
I did not find faith just by thinking, reading and praying. I found faith through action. Asking, listening, doing, reflecting, learning and doing that all over again. Faith is something I had to keep choosing it over and over in each circumstance I encountered. I had trust, then act, then give myself time and space to see what happened. The more I followed the pattern, the easier it was to have and keep the faith: to believe, even when I couldn’t see and trust even when I didn’t understand.
I am grateful for my One Word, faith, and all the gifts it gave me this year. It brought me closer to myself, closer to God and closer to those I love. Faith refined my habits, patterns and even some of my core beliefs and values in a way that will allow me to get closer to my ultimate goal of being my best self and becoming the person God created me to be.