Your faith must be stronger than your fears.
I am sure this is a real quote by someone of value, but honestly, it’s been a comment on repeat in my head for the last two years and I have no idea where I first heard it. It's striking though. It doesn’t matter where you put your faith – yourself, God, the universe – but if your faith is stronger than your fears, you will step out and off that ledge into the unknown.
I am not a huge comic book or superhero fan, but this quote reminds me of Christian Bale in “The Dark Knight Rises.” The scene where he is in the bottom of the well-like prison and the only way out is to jump from diminished ledge to diminishing ledge and finally out into the sun. It’s a terrifying scene in that you recognize the impossibility of the task and yet the inspiring possibility of escape back into the world and sunlight.
He jumps. He fails. He falls and suffers crushing defeat. Yet somehow, he finds the mental stamina and the resilience, to recover, build strength (physically and mentally) and try again. Can you imagine attempting to jump between tiny ledges with clear personal risk without the belief, the faith, that you could do this? It would be impossible.
But, yet, at our darkest moments, we often succumb to the doubt that we can climb out of the hole. We tell ourselves we cannot. Eventually this is our new truth. And when acceptance of failure has become our personal truth, that is indeed when we have hit our rockbottom. That is the point in time where we have given up. We no longer look to the sky and see ourselves basking in the sun- we start to resent the sun for flaunting itself in front of us. Teasing us. Burying us deeper in our mental graves of ineffectiveness and self-perceived failure.
When in fact, if challenged to think in a new way, we might see our falls from the edge could be lessons – stepping stones on how to be better, to do better, to succeed - if only we had the faith in our success that outweighed our fears of failure.
This is not an easy task. I have grappled with this for years. It is much easier to tell this to someone else, than it is to ingrain this into our own heart and mind. My fears are huge. But, in the end, don’t we all always fear failing? Falling short?
Years ago I was better at this. I had not been beaten down by medical training, life, self-doubt. At least not the way I am now. I used to tell myself two things over and over again:
Reach for the limits of the sky and at worst, you will fall among the stars. (Very similar to another famous quote I know, I probably gleaned that somewhere years ago but never knew, so this is my variation).
If the grass seems greener on the other side, it's probably astroturf.
These two quotes used to keep me going. To remind me that if I take that leap and risk failure, the failure still places me in a new, different place and its unlikely to be as bad as where I was before I leaped. And if it is, at least I would have learned something to improve the next attempt.
Second, our perceptions of others and their success are flawed. It may look perfect from our view, but if we were in their shoes, we might be stunned with their silent struggles, where they feel they are failing. And in fact, might see our situation is not so dire at all.
Failure. Success. Faith. Fear. Rock Bottom. They are perceptions. Views we take on ourselves. We can always find a way to change the view.
It’s taken me WAY too long to truly understand this. Repeat after me – I can ALWAYS find a way to change my view.
Once I finally recognized this, looking toward ways to climb out of my own, self-created prison, seem within grasp. Within that leap of faith – there may be fear, but the faith that I can do this is stronger.
But, faith is only the first step……