Monday, December 30, 2013

Have a little faith

1 complete trust or confidence in someone or something: this restores one’s faith in politicians
2 strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof
  • a system of religious belief: the Christian faith
--> a strongly held belief or theory: the faith that life will expand until it fills the universe  I've been thinking about this word a lot lately. Not in its usual meanings as described above. In fact, I tend to shy away from the word because I'm not religious or devout and quite honestly, my faith in politicians has not been restored. (Don't get me wrong, I'm still an Obama-girl through and through, but they can all go peddle their papers as far as I'm concerned. When one of them takes down the insurance companies, then I'll listen.) That is the Faith that requires great devotion and lasting commitment and a capital letter F. It's big faith. 

It's the little faith I am talking about. Small faith. Lower case f. It's the faith I need when I walk into a bookstore and see shelf after shelf after shelf of beautiful shiny covers, smiling author photographs and world-wide acclaim and I think to myself, "I'll never be able to do it."

My very first book is being published in April. It's already a real book; it's been edited, designed, pitched to a distributor. It now falls to me to get it into the hands of readers. I've been advised to hire a publicist, but that's not in the budget right now; I can do that  work myself. They are all tasks within my realm of ability, if not my expertise. I can call radio stations and send off my PR info. I can talk to bookstores and submit articles to magazines. I can do it all. But will I be any good at it? Will my book sell? Why would anyone want to read, much less pay for, my book with all of these other really great, well-written books available?

It's not just the book, either. There are countless daily opportunities to question my decisions or second-guess my efforts. In my work with parents and families, for example. Did I offer the right advice? Have I missed anything during a visit that I should have reported? The weight of responsibility to make sure I guide these families in the right direction can stagger my confidence some days. They are already in enough trouble; I don't want to add anymore.

How about teaching? Every time I walk into a classroom I wonder if I am conveying the information in a way that my students will understand. Am I presenting myself in a way that will give my students the confidence to question me if necessary and will I know how to respond to their inquiries? (Often the answer is no. One thing I've learned along the way is to admit when I don't know the answer rather than blunder ahead with a made up one.) Will anything I do make a difference in the lives of the people who are counting on me to help them? I wish I knew.

Do I even dare consider my own parenting and relationships? I think you see where I'm going here.

It's not just moving forward and trusting that everything will be okay. I can't see electricity. I have to take the first step without seeing the staircase. That's the big Faith. My daily struggles require the little faith. The tiny little bit of me that is with me all the time. The stalwart, stubborn sliver of my self that doesn't go away when overshadowed by fear and insecurity. And I always forget it's there.

I need that little faith. In myself. Every day.  Not just with the book. (I almost wrote "books" to be optimistic.) It still might be hard, it still might require being comfortable with the unknown. This little faith that I created from all the love and memories and successes of my life has already been in all those places and has survived. Like a nugget of gold or sparkling ruby, precious and eternal. It is astounding how often I forget to count on myself and let the dire forecasts of others influence my anticipation. And yet, time after time, it is the little faith that I have in myself that eventually gets me to my goal.

I'm going to have to remember that.

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