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It Is Easy To Have Faith When The Going Is Good…Even The Banker On Wall Street Does That

October 16, 2009

“If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” So asked Jesus in a rather poignant and sublime teaching about facing the difficulty of loving unconditionally. But it is so very true, to have love for family regardless of what they do. To be loyal in that love, almost to a fault. Yet when it comes to loving another, regardless of what they do, that is when we can often turn critical, judgmental, scornful, and even fearful. Can you love Charles Manson, not for what he had done, but for the fact that he is someone’s son? Should his mother stop loving him for the acts he committed? I dare say that deep down, she could never stop that love, it is a natural human outpouring. But could you love him, Charles Manson, or Adolf Hitler, or Pol Pot, those absolute incarnations of what some would term evil? And not in the gooey way of many Christians who claim love with the devil’s eyes, but in an honest heart-giving way, the way I know and feel that God, the Creative Principal, the Mother/Father (and if your ignorant of God as Mother, let me know and I can help with the etymological breakdown of many words that are translated into “God” that are feminine or masculine/feminine), yes, Mother/Father, GOD loves that of which is created, the sons and daughters of God as a parent loves the child (yet so much greater than what is could be considered a “standard” human love)?

The reason I ask, the reason this is coming up now, is that we are really struggling as a world, and many of us are struggling individually.  We struggle with our health, with our finances, with our relationships. We see the economy crumbling, the climate going crazy, the fundamentalists of all persuasions railing and frothing. We see the obstructionists, the greed, the decay in our politics, in our communities, in our families, and in ourselves. And in this muck and mire, in the thick of it, when you don’t know if you are going to be foreclosed on, laid off, bankrupt from health problems. When you’re worried about how the rent’s gonna be paid, if you can buy your kids a Christmas present, if Iran, or Pakistan, or America is gonna drop the bomb or not. In this, in all of this, is it easy to love God? Is it easy to have faith when the going is not only tough, but terrifying?

That, right there, is the Test.

And I’m in it.

As it sits, right now, on this day of October 16th, 2009 at 10:32 pm, my unemployment is running out and my wife received her last paycheck from a company that has decided it is time to close its doors. We officially have dwindling resources and no immediate income streams.

For the last five months I have pounded the pavement of the job search, scouring the internet job boards until my eyes can barely see straight. But with that check coming each week, there was something to keep the lights on. And with my wife’s steady pay, something else to pay the rent. It has been frustrating at times, defeating at others. It has been a test to give energy each day to finding a job and scratching your head at the fact that you don’t even get the call back for the position that barely keeps your head above water (and realistically doesn’t even get your head to the water). And it has been a test of faith.

I have had those moments when I have sat back in my chair, held my shaking hands to God and railed “What would you have me do?!?!”

And I have had those moments when I have been on my knees, tears on my cheeks and a lump in my throat, praying “Lord, what am I to do?”

I have had those moments, as my wife logged another 60 hour week, that I have looked at her with a heart of shame, feeling a failure as a husband.

And I have had those moments, that I have looked at myself in the mirror and felt a failure to myself.

I have days where four cups of coffee were the meal of the day, as I just wasn’t hungry.

And I have had those days where I’ve had to buy another mouth guard for teeth grinding at night after chewing through it in three weeks (they are supposed to last 6 months).

But I have always known, always, that God, my Creator, was there with me, experiencing this with me, as me, and loving me through it. I don’t say that because I have needed some comfort in this. At it would be hollow for me to say that it gave me comfort. It gave me something different than just some comfort that a parent gives to child, protecting him from the ills of the world. It gave me trust.

And it gave me belief.

That is what this test is teaching me. Those beautiful notions of belief and trust, so easy to say, to wax philosophically about, to paint poetic wonder with. But much different to truly embrace and become.

I say this because it is easy to love God, to praise the beautiful virtues of spirit, to have faith that things are going to work out and be fine, when the going is good. It is far different when you aren’t entirely sure that you can pay your rent or your wife’s health insurance (right now, my health care is running on faith, literally, and I am confident with that). It is easy for the rich man to say “don’t worry about it”, but far different for the family three months late on their mortgage, with two kids, who fear the sheriff showing up to foreclose on their house. It is easy to love your brother, but far different to love Charlie Manson.

But through this, my love for God, my love of the Creator that has blessed me with the ability to even live through these trying times, has remained strong (it has also taken the application of that strength within to hold true to that). And the tools I have been given in learning to respond to life’s difficulties, versus reacting to them, has helped me from literally freaking the f*ck out at times.

Because I’ve been there, too. Those moments when it all seemed to be crashing down, at times this past year when I had to say to my wife “I don’t know what we’re gonna do” and felt that brief urge to jump the fence in front of the oncoming semi truck. When I have felt the temptation to stress out so badly that I would turn to the bottle, as I did in my twenties.

One thing I have learned in my time on this earth is that stress is pointless in living a better life. It is destructive, crippling, and a waste of time. As Van Wilder said, “Stress is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” And its true. In that stress is where I am so grateful for breathing, breathing through stress, breathing it out, and breathing in balance, and clarity, and that feeling that it’s all good. Which it is. Breathing in deeply, to the core, and breathing out the crap. It is connecting, clarifying, and highly recommended.

And so I sit here, in what should probably be the scariest moments of my life. And I love God. And I believe in the Creative Principal that brings life, and death, and life again.

I have lived in the greatest joys of my life – when I found my wife, when I proposed in the Sahara Desert overlooking the Pyramids of Egypt – and I loved God then, and had trust and faith in the Divine Force that flows through us and all around us.

And I have lived through the most trying period of my life – when I have had no job, when I hit closed door after closed door  – and I loved God then. And though I might have thrown some tantrums, I returned to faith in the purpose, trust in the plan, and belief in the path that leads to the Promised Land.

It is easy to love and have faith in God when the times are good, even the rich man on Wall Street can do that.

But loving God, when the chips are down, when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel? Well, having been there, and being there now, I see the light, it has always been there. I know the love, it always exists. And I believe, regardless, that it is all good. Because I know it, I feel it, and it is my intention to grow even more in that.

The funny thing is that I look back even six months ago, and I am a different person now. I feel a greater completeness. I feel a deeper connection to myself, to my wife, to God, to this world.

To know the good, we have to know the bad (both parts of that Tree of Knowledge, of Good and Evil), so that we can exist in a more complete human way. It is the old example of a high peak of wave that can’t exist without with the low point of the trough. And it is the same wholeness of both sides that comprises unconditional love, that love that God has for all of us, saint and sinner, Manson and Mandela, encompassing all. Can you give continually in that love, unconditionally, in good times and in bad? Can you hold strong in faith when it seems that all hope is lost the same way you can when you are sitting on top of the world?

And so I sit now, with a calmness, a peacefulness, a love, and a gratitude that is not just theoretical, that is not just words spoken to try and convince myself or another, but in a way that is real. With a trust in God that is real.

How is this all gonna play out, individually and collectively, I don’t know. It is scary but, ironically, it is also exciting. We are living in an incredible time. And we have incredible potential, each and every one of us. Trust in that. Have faith in yourself. Give love freely. And cultivate joy in the small things, so that they create the large things.

Remember that we don’t always get to know why, which can be frustrating and even maddening. But please know that there is a greater force at work here leading us to even greater things. Trust in that.

Remember also that this project, enlightenment, is hard, bloody, and full of tears. You will rend your breast. You will scream “Why?” and “What?” and “How?” You will be frustrated, and want to give up, to say what’s the f*cking point of this, why the hell am I even here. And in this you must persevere, you must have patience, and trust that it is all unfolding as it should and will. And to live in the present, in that place that laments not for the past, or worries unceasingly over an uncertain future, but exists in the wholeness of the moment, and acts in that.

And remember – there is love and there is fear. Choose wisely when you decide which one to feed.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. ghettoblackify permalink
    October 16, 2009 11:43 pm

    interesting post !

  2. October 17, 2009 12:11 am

    Thanks for the comment and I’m glad you found it interesting. It has been interesting times.

  3. clarkscottroger permalink
    October 17, 2009 9:11 am

    (someone said) ‘fear is the only enemy’. This is very true.
    (someone else said) ‘we have nothing to fear but fear itself’ This is not only a meaningless statement, it is the basis for the worst form of (pre)manipulation.
    These two statements have nothing to do with each other, other than referring to the concept of fear.

    (Caution: what follows is stated in rational/intellectual terms, and as such does not have any power or value other than for the process of identification*)

    Fear is the primary tool of (fill in the blank), and is used to keep us living in the past or the future. Fear can only exist when living in the past or the future. Fear does not exist in and of the here and now.
    By whatever means necessary, if I can get into the here and now, fear is diminished. Or more properly, the momentum which is the actual power of fear is interrupted.
    Having been in a state as described above, the normal response is, ‘sure, fine, but I have to do something’. True. But the (interior) environment makes all the difference when acting in the (exterior)world.
    The ‘goal’, of fear is to drive us to ‘fall back’, on the familiar way of being, on the habitual way of living. Anything that (we have always done with ourselves) that lets us not see what the fear is threatening us with.
    That is the other thing about fear. It is mostly a threat. Fear says, ‘lookout, because of this this may happen, try to imagine how bad it will be…’
    Fear is couched in rational/intellectual terms, but it is anything but.

    *Identification. If the question is how to love your enemy, the answer is by way of identification. Identification is a process (like so much else in these pages) that is very simple and very difficult. But if, in fact, you manage identify with ‘the other’, everything changes.

    Take bowling (please!). Seriously, I am the type of person who tends to be self-conscious in public and un-familiar situations and places. Not unusual. I found for whatever reason, that I just plain liked the idea of bowling. (And I also decided that I was a natural for the sport.) Now I don’t bowl more than 5 times in 10 or 15 years, but I came to realise on one occasion, that if I went into a bowling alley, somewhere/anywhere, I was not self-conscious. More to the point I found the people interesting and friendly.
    (Now this from a person who has not eaten in a restaurant, by choice in more than 10 years, mostly the self-conscious thing).
    But I came to understand that if I had a genuine interest/enthusiasm in something, then I would identify with those with a common interest. And everything would be different.
    (No, you don’t have to cultivate an interest in genocide to identify with so-and-so (emoticon here), just find the thing that you know is a part of you and a part of them.)

    Sorry for running on…the topic of fear and faith, identification and reason take up an inordinate amount of my life, it seems.

    • October 17, 2009 2:11 pm

      You bring up some very valid points about fear and identification.

      With fear, it seems to me that the natural identification of it as a state of being is one in which we identify with the factors that feed it.

      We fear that the actions of our past will haunt us, creating misery, despair, suffering. And that the actions of others will continue to dictate our state of being and our self-worth.

      The actions of the past, while definitely an intricate part of the point we are at right now, have already played their part, fulfilled their role in our lives.

      I have often used the example of a kid in school that fails a test. It happened, it is done, the kid moves on. As adults, with the past, we are like that kid, but twenty years later, we still wake up and lament the outcome of that test. It haunts us, prevents us from moving forward, etc.. Now, if you had an adult that was struggling and you asked them what the problem was and they said “I failed a test in first grade” you would look at them like they were nuts. Yet we often do that with our past, continuing to exist in that event, or circumstance, or relationship that needs to be moved on from. The emotion of the event is powerful, yes, but that it continues to enslave us in a state of fear, depression, and suffering HAS to be rectified and resolved, or it stunts our evolving. And that can be hard. It is hard when your confidence takes a blow. It can be hard when you have a person that seems to have stabbed you in the back. It can be hard when you’ve had occasions in the past that made you uncomfortable or hurt. But ultimately, there has to be a movement into the present from that past. And the quickest way forward into this is forgiving that past (and the part you played in it) so as to let it rest in peace.

      Within this past, however, and what you write about in your comment, is that habitual and familiar way of being that can stunt our growth. Fear and pain can be a seductive power in the comfort they can bring. If you’ve had your heart broken, the pain of that can become comfortable and familiar in preventing you from ever taking a chance again on love, because of the fact that you already handled that pain and hurt, and there is the fear that next time it will hurt more, that you can’t go through it again so you sit with it. Like if you take a chance, and get your heart broken again, it will compound, and you might not survive that, so you sit with the level of fear and suffering that you can feel able to tolerate. That familiarity and comfort become a normal level (“I can handle this amount of fear and pain, but it could get worse so I will stay with this”).

      Within this familiarity and comfort of fear is the creation of the self-fulfilling prophecy. I am afraid of taking a chance, I am afraid of failure, I am afraid of rejection, I am afraid of being hurt again. So I choose not to act, choose not to take a chance, choose to not be vulnerable to the sins of the past. And thus you fail, thus you reject, thus you hurt…again. It has happened to me before, the fear of failure, where I chose not to do something because of that fear of failure, and thus I failed before I even tried.

      And then that pendulum of fear from the past, swings into the uncertainty of the future, playing off that past. What if what has happened in the past, happens again in the future? What if this happens? What if that happens? What if, what if, what if? It creates a certain limbo where you are existing in the moment, but your consciousness is so scattered that you are just paralyzed, catatonic, stuck in a rut.

      That is what has plagued me at times over this past period. I moved back to a location where I grew up and was known by many as something I once was – Jason up to 26 years old or so and what that meant to them. Yet I had grown and become something different, which was very hard for them to identify with, and it was hard for me to assimilate because I was just learning to become comfortable in it. And in trying to become familiar with it, and live it, I also started to sacrifice it, and compromise it so that life was palatable for everyone (so that I felt accepted as well). It was hard because there was an expectation of who I was, and from that, I began to identify again with those states that I had been moving on from – those childhood notions of fear (fear of failure, fear of disappointing others, fear of standing firm in my truth). And with that on the plate, I then got caught up in the “What am I going to do, being back here?” Trying to integrate those feelings of the past, with the uncertainties of the future, allowing the momentum of that fear to infect me like a virus, while struggling to hold onto the balance of that core that is in the moment, that is all good. I got caught in this limbo between what I had been, and what I wanted to be, like I was halfway across the tightrope, and I could turn back to where I had come from or move forward to where I wanted to go, and instead of doing anything and stood there bouncing up and down (while deep down knowing that they only way forward…was forward).

      And it is here that the momentum of that bouncing up and down in no-where-ville had to stop…the interruption of that program, like the reboot of the computer system of my thoughts. And in that, allowing the past (how I was, how I was expected to be, how I feared and struggled to exist the world) to be, as well as allowing the future to unfold (without incessantly wanting to control it, to run around like chicken with my head cut off so that I could create some elusive solace) is where that center, that “in the moment” was and is and will be found…for all of us. And in that is the old Buddha teaching that said something to the affect that the pathway to enlightenment is one foot in front of the other.

      We each have to choose to remove the insidious identification with the fears of the past and the fears of the future, and move into a more empowering truth of the power of the present moment. We have to take our energy that is fragmented and scattered to the four corners of our consciousness and bring that back the balanced scales of the center, into that moment where we realize that we have the choice in our interior environment and response, embracing how that makes all the difference in how we act in the exterior world.

      It is east to get caught up in this whirlwind of fear, the slippery slope of despair, and forget to entertain any notion that something can work out and become greater than our wildest dreams.

      It truly becomes a matter of momentum, and when the momentum spins into fear, despair, frustration, and suffering, there has to be the point where you STOP and re-collect your self, recovering, discovering, uncovering, even taking back all of the energy of consciousness that is stuck in the past and lost in the future.

      It is the reversal of the flow where we begin to live from the inside out, bringing forth what is within us (that light, that consciousness, that enlightenment), as opposed to living in the current way of so many of us that live from the outside in – taking, seeing, and identifying with what is given to us, identifying with what see, and allowing that to shape our perceptions.

      When we exist in that fear, it infects us, and we begin to identify with more and more that will reinforce that fear in us. But when we stop, and begin to live from that state of consciousness that is divine, enlightened, etc. that infection can be healed.

      Sorry for the long-winded reply, I tend to stop when the fingers that are typing say so…

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