There are so many things that we, as humans, cannot control. We can’t control the weather, or the reactions of other people, we can’t control the luck of the draw or where obstacles are located. We can’t directly control disease or healing, none of it.
The best we can do is control the way we respond to these things. The things themselves, our blessings and our challenges, well, all we can do there is pray.
Praying takes lots of forms, from shaping our lives in ways we think might appease the gods — “If you only make this happen, I will. . . ” — to simple requests for intervention, usually direct and injunctive. “Dear God, bring us money and healthy and success and joy!”
There seems to be plenty of evidence that prayer doesn’t really work that way. While both sides may pray to God, in the end God has to let the process happen, can’t give everyone everything they desire.
For me, prayer is an injunction for miracles as defined by A Course In Miracles, where the miracles we pray for are miracles of our own transformation, of our learning lessons from the world that teach us how to walk more in love than in fear, how to trust connection more than separation. This is based on the belief that being open to miracles can help us heal ourselves and help us get what we need, both in this world and in our larger spirit life. It teaches that our strength is in our defenselessness and our power is in the way we connect with others to make good things happen.
It is, then, very possible for me to see getting a traffic ticket as a lesson, and also to see avoidng dealing with another ticket as another lesson, one of the essential power of love, and the other as a lesson about my own fear.
To live with this belief, like living with any belief, requires a kind of faith. Some beliefs require faith in a vengeful and interceding God, others require faith in a random and chaotic universe, but my beliefs require faith that becoming more actualized, more integrated, more whole and more authentic will bring more connection and more lessons that help me grow.
So many of us have heard the injunction to surrender to God, to surrender to the song she put in our hearts, to surrender to the lessons she offers us in this life, to surrender to the principle that all we can do is the best we can and leave the rest to her process.
For me, faith requires me to put myself in her hands, trusting that if I open more, she will offer more, protecting me, challenging me, surprising me and nurturing me though the hands of the people & the world of her creation.
Faith is so uncool because it is inherently niaeve and childlike. It demands we let go of adult notions of control & power, demanding we only take power and responsibility for doing our best, for making the best choices we can in our own views, and leaving the rest to our mother in the sky. If we make her proud by our choices, we have to trust that she will be there to help us get though and get what we need.
Still, the opposite of faith, the idea that somehow we can be smart enough to manipulate everyone and everything around us, that our own tricks can control the world, seems to always turn out to be a dead end. It is the dead end we face in recovery, forced to face our limits and the long term effects of creating a false self to control others.
I need to put myself in the hands of something or someone bigger than I am, to have faith that making good choices and surrendering to the world with love is the best choice I can make. For me, that surrender is to my mother in the sky, who teaches me with wit, warmth and a stern hand that I am more than the sack of shit I have taught myself to be.
And that choice to trust those unseen hands, hands I can only know by the shadows of them I have seen in my life, by the shadow stories others have left in their tales, well, I find that hard.
But I think that trust is what love — agape, eros and all the rest — demands.