*There is an elementary school in my neighborhood that has a tradition of placing quotes on a huge board outside on their lawn. Each Monday a new quote is there. No author. Just the quote. I, not unlike many of my neighbors, have come to look forward to the quote of the week. Once I saw the man putting the quote up on the board; which was amazing because after all of these years, I’d never seen the quotes being placed. They were just there every Monday once I got to that intersection where the school is. I felt like jumping out of my car and telling him how much I appreciate them.
But I didn’t.
This week the quote is clearly religious; though it often goes beyond religion, offering seeking minds the opportunity to think more broadly, more humanistic and more spiritual — irregardless of what your faith might be.
The quote reads…
“The Bible is meant to be bread for daily use. Not cake for special occasions.”
Deep indeed, I thought to myself.
I always find the quotes so inspiring. I am purposely not providing the name of the school because, just as the person who purposely leaves the name of the author off of the quotes; or goes beyond a specific religion or practice when designing the quote, the human mind has a tendency to judge, ignore or even shut “the lesson” down the moment either of these things are revealed.
I was, am, inspired to write this article on Faith though because I feel that irregardless of what your specific religion is, — and faith is born from religion — if its not doing these 6 basic things for you and your life moving forward, well, in a nutshell, how is it helping you to grow as a person?
The realization that you have everything you need within you…already.
I have been on this earth long enough to live this truth. Even in reflecting back on my life, the trials and tribulations I had to live through because NOTHING came easily for me…just like Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (minus the red shoes), I learned what I thought I wanted or needed, I always had within me. But just like having a key yet not knowing which door it will unlock, it took me a while to realize this. And now that I do, I understand life a lot better; and this understanding is very helpful in confronting it.
Giving to Others is the Only Way You Will Ever Become Truly Happy
First it might be best for us to examine that word: Happiness.
Does it mean we will no longer have problems? No. Does it mean smiling or laughing all the time? No. Now with these two things out of the way, think about what the word really means to you?
Now take yourself out of the equation.
Don’t you find that even in your lowest moments, after you do something to help someone else, you feel a lot better? You may not have even had the energy to step outside of your own misery to do this. It could have come in the form of someone knocking at your door; someone calling you on the phone…and “something” made you pick up. It could have even come to you while you were at the store grabbing groceries, and “something” encouraged you to give someone a compliment, which led to a greater conversation.
The point is, when we step outside of ourselves and do something for someone else, just like magic our load feels lighter.
Just imagine the featherweight of our load if we did this on the regular.
Showing You the Power of ‘The Word’
Some of the prettiest people can say some of the ugliest things. They obviously have no idea about the power that lies in the words they use when speaking. Nor how those words affect their lives, personally. I notice that if I entertain doubt about any of my goals, those doubts manifests itself in the outcome. Yet when I put my whole focus on success, even in reflecting back, it too has ALWAYS manifested itself.
Oh how many times I have wished I could identify, then bottle and sell whatever it is that makes this happen to my benefit!
But I’ve come to realize you can’t change anyone else, but I can for sure change ME. I can’t save anyone else; nor can I expect anyone else to save me. And NOTHING good, absolutely nothing good, will manifest from jealousy, bitterness, or deceit on any level.
Words matter. And if everything that comes out of your mouth — especially when it has to do with someone else — is negative, it will be reflected in your life. Take a look.
We’ve heard the saying, “You can fool some of the people some of the time. You can even fool all of the people some of the time. But one thing is for sure, you can never fool yourself!”
OK, I may have paraphrased that, but you get the point. So at this time in my life I have learned that my words matter. They, even if they are only in my head, those thoughts design the outcome of my reality.
Do You ‘Practice’ Your Faith or Do You Just ‘Preach’ It
I know that actions speak louder than words and I always try to welcome a new day with the mindset that it presents an opportunity to do something better today, than I may have done yesterday or in the past.
I’m not always successful, but I believe recognizing the need keeps me on the right track.
Another habit I have formed, consciously, is to pay a sincere compliment to a total stranger each day. I remember “catching myself” doing this on a subconscious level a while back, and made a conscious decision to make it a daily habit. I think I just liked the way it made me feel; to see how the spirits of the person I paid the compliment to lift. I don’t even know why it was, or is, important to me to affect the spirits of a complete stranger at all. But apparently it is, so I’ll leave it at that.
Do you have a sense of Hope…or Optimism
Listen, with the political climate being at its worst today, and racists doing their dirt out loud and without remorse as if they’ve been given permission and know they won’t be held accountable, its understandable that a lot of folks are feeling hope-LESS.
But wait, isn’t that what our faith should be offering us? A sense of hope? Optimism? A reminder that one person can take action and cause that ripple effect that can begin to affect change.
Hey, not unlike you, I have no residence on Cloud 9. Nor do I sit at the top of any mountain to separate myself from the shit-hole that we appear to live in. This is real! I know it and you know it! But don’t you think it is precisely at these times that your Faith should provide you with the tools to handle…decipher….understand…deal with this tumultuous time? And you, as a result, don’t have to succumb or become consumed with rage, frustration and anger in the process?
There are no easy answers here and I am not claiming to know how to end the pain. What I do know is that it is precisely the practice of my faith and the study of its teachings that keeps me sane (and even hopeful) at an insanely, hopeless time.
And that teaching is that it begins and ends….with me.
You have the potential right here, right now, on this earth, to be magnificent!
At the risk of sounding “Oprah-ish” (y’all feel me!?) it is my faith that teaches me this. I don’t have to look outside of myself, or compare the successes and failures of my life against anyone or anything. I don’t even have to die first to witness the magnificence of my being.
Woo! That just gives me chills!!!
And here’s the thing that really gets me, claiming my magnificence has absolutely nothing to do with ego. In fact, an ego would only cheapen it. I am magnificent with all of my faults; on the days I don’t have a dime to my name; and even when I’m having low self-esteem.
My magnificence is in the knowing that life is not all about me…and being perfectly OK with that. The sun doesn’t rise or set around me. Every time something doesn’t go my way, its not because of my race or my religion or even my gender. It’s just because…
I don’t have to walk through my journey wearing anything on my sleeve. And I don’t have to try to prove this to you by posting it on social media; or exhibiting any ‘over-the-top’ behaviors.
You are no dummy. I respect you’d see through that shit anyway.
Magnificence, it seems, lies heavily in having an innate sense of humility. It’s demonstrated even without thought. To people who know you, you reek of it. Humility. What does that look like? The mere knowing that you are no better (or worse) than anyone else. How did you treat the waitperson in that restaurant or at the door of the fancy hotel you entered? Does your behavior towards others change when you ‘acquire’ more?
Humility. The realization that life as you know it now, can change, or end, in a single moment. What is your legacy? This is not something exclusive to celebrities, or even people with children. What will you leave as your mark on the space you occupied in the world…and what are you doing to build it while you are here?
Humility. The knowing that you don’t have to prove anything to anyone but your self. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you when it is based on never having met you nor lived even a single day in your shoes. So no amount of posted pictures on how much fun you’re having (when you know you will still be miserable once the event is over) will change this. Change can only be effective when it comes from within.
I’d love to hear your comments as to how your Faith is helping you grow as a person.