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Saturday, January 07, 2017

thisbelief

some years ago i counseled my youth pastees to act as though they had faith, in order to prove they already had it. the logic is this: that no one who sincerely wants to believe something, can simultaneously disbelieve it.

(wanting something to be real is not the same; but one who is willing to do something in order to achieve belief, is obviously acting out of some seed of existing belief, however feeble it may seem to them.)

this weekend i find myself automatically following my own advice. or, actually, i find myself living out one of my fundamental beliefs: that one's actions are the surest indicator of what one believes.

some would describe belief as a feeling, a certainty, an expectation, or even a moral code. but it isn't any of these. it's patterns, actions, motions. if you call yourself a Christian, for example, but do nothing that is Christian, then you simply aren't. 

this is good news. 

it means that you can choose your beliefs in the same way you choose to raise your hands. it means you can feel like a failure, yet still succeed. it means you can expect ruin, while building reward. you can live with deep, malicious fears in your heart, but act with courage, the same way anyone who felt unafraid might do

this phenomenon, the ability to discover in ourselves the beliefs we hope to find, is a problem-solving superpower which all free-willed creatures possess.

i don't believe people have zero limits. but i do believe that we must earn the right to declare our limits, either by surpassing them or else by expending so much in the effort to surpass them that we bankrupt ourselves. (we know exactly how far we can run only when we collapse, gasping for breath and sweating blood.)

i don't enjoy that experience. sometimes it feels like a feverish nightmare, a little sliver of eternal torture. my heart rate skyrockets, fight-or-flight kicks in, and i have to remind myself who and what is in charge.

i'm doing that now. around 95% of my essence is clawing at me, trying to pull me back to where i can breathe. unfortunately i still have some oxygen left, so i'll be here perhaps several months more, before i earn the right to say "i cannot."

i'm really looking forward to giving up.