Finding Faith when I thought I had it already
If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed nothing shall be impossible unto you. ~Matthew 17:20
I wore this quote and an actual mustard seed around my neck during most of high school (see picture). The necklace was a gift from my parents. They have always been my #1 fans and raised me to believe I can be anything I want to be.
I was raised in a church-going family and I married a faith-filled man. I’ve written about the importance of church as a part of my life and upbringing in these posts.
Not until recently have I thought deeply about faith. One of the cornerstones to becoming a professional coach was to do “the work” I would ask clients to do on myself. Step #1 was to examine my core values. At the heart of my values lists have always been my family and leadership. This represents the people who are close to me and the work I am able to put into the world.
I never listed faith as a value on these lists. Part of me thinks it is because it’s inherent in who I am. Why would I need to write it down? Another part of me thinks it is because I have never stepped as fully into my faith as I could. Why step into it fully when I can show up to mass every week and sing from the choir loft? When I can teach my girls the words to the prayers and cover off general knowledge about the sacraments and religion? That should be enough, right?
But faith had a different message for me. Earlier this year when I was doing a three-week series for the young adult ministry at my parish, I had the participants do their own values exercise. They had to sort 30 small slips of paper into various piles according to how they matter in their lives. Eventually they narrowed these 30 words down to their top 5 values. This is a very common coaching exercise and participants always walk away with thoughts about how important a singular word – or value – is in their lives.
I told the participants that they could take the slips of paper home with them and do the exercise with a partner or family member. Those who choose not to take them home left them on the table. As I was collecting the envelopes and small slips of paper at the end of the night, I noticed that one slip of paper was on the floor. I picked it up and chuckled to myself. It was the world FAITH. I wanted to call out in a sarcastic voice “someone lost their faith”, but I didn’t. Instead, I put it into my piles of papers and took it home.
A few days later I was sorting through the papers from the church sessions and the FAITH slip of paper fluttered onto the floor. I picked it up and put it back in a stack.
I was cleaning my office a few weeks later and what was resting amidst the piles on my floor? FAITH
I’m not one to be superstitious about signs, but this really stopped me in my tracks. I looked at the paper, looked up into what I view as heaven and the universe and said, “Ok, God, I get it. I need to have more faith.”
This slip of paper is now in plain view on my office desk.
I’m not 100% sure what it means for me now. Mostly, the paper is a good reminder that I need to have faith. Faith in God. Faith in myself. Faith in my family. Faith in my community. Faith in something bigger than all of us combined.
For now, I’m journaling a lot about my values and trying on the various words, like faith, in the context of my life. Sitting with this word outside of a church pew and choir loft is bringing it into clearer view.
Small Town Leadership Lesson: I can push rocks up a hill all day long, but at major transition points, I’m reminded of the verse from Matthew. The smallest bit of faith can go a long, long way. I am the only person standing in my way from having this small bit of faith make a big difference in my world.
What value are you wrapping your head (and heart) around these days? You aren’t alone. It’s normal to wrestle with the things that are important – or that we want to be more important – in our lives.