Finding Faith – In Ourselves
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Have you ever actually heard yourself complaining about how you can’t do something?
I have…and it wasn’t pretty. But it made for a funny story!
I delivered a presentation recently, at a Westshore Women’s Business Network (WWBN) event in Victoria, BC, that was partly based on that story. But I rather surprised myself in the question and answer period afterwards.
My presentation was entitled, The Electric Jello Story – Turning I Can’t Into I CAN…and I Will.
The first part of my talk was the sordid tale from my party days about a stagette gone awry. I had overindulged in some electric jello shooters 🙁 and had been sent home from the bar early. But when the girls tried to awaken me from my drunken slumber in the wee hours of the morning, so that I could buzz them up to the apartment – I wanted no part of being woken up, thank you very much.
Nor could I seem to figure out which button to push on the damn intercom to let them in the foyer.
Unfortunately, my repeated wails of, “I can’t,” – in the most whining and pathetic tone imaginable – was recorded on the answering machine. Much to my chagrin, the girls played the tape back to me the next morning!
In the second part of my presentation, I told the story of the conversation John and I had the day before he died when I said to him: “I am so scared I am going to wake up 20 years from now and still not have finished writing a book.”
To which he’d responded: “You’re probably right about that…just as long as you know that will have been your choice.”
Tough words, yes. But in all fairness, after 12 years of being together, I think the poor guy had run out of patience listening to me whine and complain about not having the time or money to write. For more than a decade, I’d used every excuse in the book as to why I couldn’t make my writing a priority.
“I’ll show him!” I said to myself, after dropping him off at work that night. I promised myself I would wake up early the next morning and do an hour of writing before going into work at my clerical job.
But when the alarm clock went off the next morning, what did I do? I pushed snooze. “I can’t get up,” I whined. “I’m too tired to write.”
When I finally hauled my sorry butt out of bed, after pushing the snooze button multiple times, there wasn’t any time to write. In fact, there was barely time for me to get to work.
And when I did arrive at work, my whole life changed in an instant. John died that day. And I got the wake-up call of all wake-up calls about the danger of waiting for a tragedy to happen until we make achieving our dreams – the work we are here to do – a priority.
Two weeks after his death, I woke up one morning and started writing what would become my book, A Widow’s Awakening. It took me 8 years to get it – and me – where it needed to be. But I did it.
After I finished my presentation, we had a bit of an impromptu Q&A, and Deb, the founder of WWBN, asked me this excellent question:
“If there was just one word to describe what you think is THE most important thing in terms of transforming “I can’t” into “I can,” what would it be?”
I thought about this for a moment and then a single word popped into my mind.
“Faith,” I heard myself say to the group. “But not faith in the traditional way we often think of faith, as in having faith in some sort of divine guidance or a religious belief.”
“I’m talking about faith in one’s self.” I continued. “I think it is absolutely imperative that we have faith in ourselves and our ability to achieve what it is we really want to achieve. Because if we don’t have that, then all the divine help and spiritual guidance in the world can’t help us.”
Likewise with our mortal supporters.
John believed in my potential as a writer and did everything he could to encourage me to take concrete action towards meeting my goals i.e. get my butt in the chair and WRITE.
But at the end of the day, taking action was my responsibility. That was a very tough life lesson to learn in the wake of such an immense loss.
If we don’t have faith in ourselves that we can – and will – step up to the plate, each and every day, and do the work that needs to be done, then the support and encouragement of our loved ones, as well as any sort of divine guidance we may believe is available to us, will all be for naught.
And for the record, I DO believe there is a tremendous amount of spiritual assistance just waiting in the wings to help guide us…sending us all sorts of signs and signals. We just need to a) pay attention and b) take action 🙂
“When you act, you will be amazed at the things that come together. The universe responds to action.”
– Barbara Edie, Impossible Dreams; What it Takes To Bring Your Vision to Life
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.