Hope or Faith, Where Do You Live?
I’m at my best when I’m significant to the people around me. I love to know that I contribute to them in a way they experience as valuable and that they believe my existence enriches their existence. People tend to be appreciative when I assist them in a way that suits them and I’m quite good at identifying what might suit them.
Allowing others to assist me back is not, however, my strong suit. It’s all wrapped up in a fear of embarrassment and disappointment, a fear I will believe I am loved when I am not, a fear that I will be trapped in a kind of support I do not want. My fall back when frightened is to isolate. I feel the safest when I do it all myself because I can’t then be disappointed by others.
The underlying concept is, if someone disappoints me it is evidence that I am broken, I am unlovable. My story is that I don’t get supported in the way I would like because the way I would like to be supported is high maintenance and requires too much commitment. No-one would want to commit to supporting me. It asks too much of them and I’m not cool enough.
Until very recently I did not clearly recognize this was what I had been telling myself. You see, immediately following the internal message that I have been rejected by others and it’s because I’m just not cool enough, comes an internal message that I’m actually very cool. Someone disappoints, it is proof I suck, followed almost instantaneously by the compensating message that I am super cool but misunderstood.
The truth is that I am supercool, but going there so quickly meant I didn’t recognize that I was also telling myself I am super uncool and broken. Because the compensating message appears so quickly, it has only been very recently that I’ve been able to hear the quiet judgement that precedes it.
What does this have to do with hope or faith?
I secretly hope for the reciprocity I resist. (Big surprise!) I hope people won’t reject me. I hope someone will support me the way I would like to be supported. I hope someone will care enough to stick with me while I figure out how to let them in.
All my hopes require something or someone else, something or someone I have no control over. When I hope, I experience the world as capricious and unruly. It’s like living in a fantasy world, with no way forward to make it real. Hope doesn’t lead me to try and figure out what I ought to be doing because it suggests something outside me is running the show.
Faith takes me down another path. If I tell myself
“I hope someone will understand me,” faith asks,
“How could it be otherwise? Do you actually believe you are so complicated and unique that there is no one on the planet that can and wants to understand you? Do you really believe that’s the issue?”
“You’re just scared, aren’t you? You’re afraid of disappointment and rejection. Have a little faith that the people who are meant to show up will show up in good time. And they’ll show up faster if you learn to trust that you are not broken!”
Faith requires something of me. It requires trust in the face of disappointment. It requires that I choose to “know” that I will find the connection I’m looking for. Faith requires me to be courageous and believe in myself. Faith makes my self-worth up to me and no one else.
What I know is this. When I find myself living in hope, it’s a great big warning signal that I need to get moving. “I hope someone will support me” leaves my happiness to fate and lets me off the hook. If I can find the faith to know that what is meant for me will come to me, I can (and must) find the courage to keep moving forward, even when I inevitably do get hurt or disappointed.
Where do you live? Hope or faith? What would you attempt if you had faith that everything that happens is in support of your greatest good?