Steps of Faith

“Dear Samm,

Do you know how it feels to meet someone and instantly connect? Like within the first conversation you already feel like you’ve been friends for a long time? Sometimes that’s because you laugh at the same things or you have the same weird hobby or interest. Maybe its because they talk about things in a specific way that’s captivating. 

have you ever met people like that except ones who are the same kind of captivating but not in a close friend way? People who are captivating who fit your ideal in a way that challenges you, inspires you and makes you want to be the best version of yourself. (Or someone your similar age to meet like this that you can fall in love with.) How do you become like that ideal without giving up because it feels like you’ll never get there?”

yes. I know exactly those kind of people. I love meeting people like that. In college, I spent time with the people that made me feel like I didn’t need to go anywhere else; people that made me forget I even HAD a phone, let alone remembering  I didn’t need to check it. I don’t meet those people as often anymore but I love it when I do. Sometimes I can be kinda suffocating, I get too excited about the connection and I forget not everyone can be as intense. Not everyone has an intuitive sense as quick as I do. (or some people just don’t like me as much as I like them–and that’s hard to learn sometimes but its okay.) Some people meet a lot more of those than others and when you do, you should try to hold on to them, but be careful. Don’t be creepy and obsessive.

There are a few people I’ve met, or read books about that make me dream about my ideal self or ideal mate and I have a running list of “the best version of humanity”. Spoiler: it is actually Jesus and I do talk with him every day but that’s not what I mean. I mean humans who are still alive on earth today. The ideal of these people gives me, as I;m sure you; GREAT opportunities to make and acheive goals. I’m an enneagram 3 (read the post on being a biblical woman if you don’t know what the enneagram is) so we all know that I’m a list-making, goal-oriented, accomplishment junkie. I have lists on lists on lists of stuff to do, stuff I’ve done, Stuff for today, for this week, for next week, the month and so on. But it can be overwhelming when we have these lofty goals and have no idea how to get there. Or when we are challenged by someone to get somewhere or be something and yet we self condemn in the failure of not already being at arrival. Totally normal.

When I first learned how to share what the main point of the Bible was, I was told to get out of the van, pray and then find someone on the beach to share it with. “WHAT?!” I mean, I understood the little diagram they showed me, and it was clear to me but I had grown up learning all the stories in the 66 books that make up the Bible and obviously I could piece it together. “So… I’m supposed to go out on the beach where people are tanning, reading, playing, listening to music and vacationing away from their crazy family, or coworkers that annoy them with useless facts from last weekend’s rager and tell them about the entire point of the bible with one little diagram I can draw in the sand and then ask if they get it and want to start living their life by it? yeah… good talk. I’ll wait in the parking lot.”

Of the 3 summers I spent at the beach, I only escaped one of 36 times I had to do this and the entire time I felt guilty for not going out. Every Wednesday morning I woke up with a stomach ache cuz I knew at 1:30pm I would asked to get out of the van and go. The craziest thing is I did this 35 Wednesday afternoons over the course of 4 years and I did actually have people decide they wanted to live their life by this little diagram I drew in the sand. IT WAS INSANE. and yet, even when that happened, I still woke up the next week not wanting to go out again. I saw these ladies and men share with such confidence, eloquence and an endless amount of things to respond when hard questions were asked, statements were made and challenged were proposed. I wanted to be like that, but I hated stepping on to the beach that day.

No one ever taught me how to take small steps of faith. I wanted to go from where I was to where I saw these other amazing and incredible men and women. I wanted to have the excitement, drive, and courage they did but I knew I had soooo far to go, and even farther if I currently hated it. Could I ever be like them?

Those Wednesdays started in the summer of 2009 and now I am one of those women other girls look at whos gifts they pine after. Its been a wild ride. A little over ten years and the secret is not just practice, practice, practice but actually taking small steps of faith while practicing with a number of individuals. If you took steps of faith on your own, surely you will grow and develop BUT if you take steps of faith alongside people who are peers, mentors, and mentees then you will REALLY grow.

This is the best part of my job. Helping students learn how to take small steps of faith because it’s crucial to learn how to take them or you just give up. Steps of faith are not just challenges, they aren’t just something someone asks you to do that you don’t already do. They are steps that require faith, they are steps that ARE challenging but not just outside of your comfort zone, they are scary enough to make you rely on more than yourself.

When you involve these three levels of people, you are giving yourself a chance to learn from those better than you, learn from those who are similar to you and learn from those who look up to you. We all have gifts, talents, and experiences to contribute which means we can learn from anyone we take steps of faith alongside.

Mentors can demonstrate things we have yet to learn and peers can remind us of things we may have forgotten, while mentees give us the chance to have more courage than we thought we had by forcing us to lead the way.  I’ve found it best to take the steps with a variety of people in order to continue to push myself and learn through humility, sacrifice, and partnership.

Think about how those three things are shaped as you move with a variety of people? What type of people are in your life that allows you to learn in those ways? How can you benefit from those around you?

People who are older, wiser, smarter or more experienced can help you chart steps from wherever you are to where you want to get. The people who have arrived at the place you are wanting to get to are going to be the most helpful in leading the way on the path. Don’t try to be them, and don’t condemn yourself for not yet being where they are, but seek to get there one step at a time. Maybe if someone had told me what it would have looked like to take small steps of faith and what those steps could be I would have been more driven, more excited and more passionate about accomplishing those steps one week at a time. I wasn’t where I thought I should be, hated that I wasn’t fitting this biblical mold that told me

“This is the greatest news you’ve ever experienced.. you should want to share it. You are obligated to share it, you are a hypocrite, a fool and an embarrassment if you don’t and to add to your self-condemnation: if you aren’t excited, confident and bold while doing it you are a complete failure or worse__ maybe you don’t truly get it at all.”

This went through my head not just when I woke up on Wednesday mornings, but when I got in the van, when I stepped on to the payment, walked up to anyone enjoying the sun, and when I was RELIEVED it was over at 4:30pm. Pretty much on a daily basis from when I started following Jesus early June of 2009 until the fall of 2017—8 years later. The fall of 2017 is a story for another day but its when I really stopped being so afraid of getting to the place I wanted to be. In this specific category, I still find myself getting nervous but I have a lot of great people in my life that remind me what is true. The truth is, I have a gift not everyone knows they can have, a gift that is free and any sort of discomfort, awkwardness or disdain from someone else is worth them getting the chance to say yes to the best thing I’ve ever been given.

Find someone to help you see what small steps of faith you need to take to get you where you want to be, and celebrate when you take them, pray when you get too nervous and get back out there and do it again. Don’t stop asking “What went well?” or “what could we do better next time?” Don’t stop trying, don’t give up and don’t forget to ask God to show you how far you’ve come. remembering is half the process.

Take one small step of faith and encourage others around you to do the same.

 

xox

Samm

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