"Believe and do not doubt." Isn't that what the bible says? "Have a little faith." "Don't give in to fear and stop moving forward."
All of these things make perfect sense when we sit in our cozy homes sipping yummy coffee and tea, but what about the real world, where we go outside and face our true nature. That's when your faith is tested, and that's where you should spend your time if you want to experience faith.
People tend to see faith in yourself as a yes or no experience. In other words, you either have it or you don't. But I like to see faith as a graded test just like in school. When you take a test you get an F, D, C, B, or A score. When you get an A score that means you did perfectly on the test. But a B or C score is passable and proves progress.
What that means is there are people that won't take a test unless they know they will ace the test. But there are others who will take the test, knowing they might fail, just to learn and grow.
Question: Would you rather be and "A" student in an easy class or "B" student in a hard class? Which one would you learn more in?
Think about faith, and belief in yourself, like the hard class. Tell yourself that you might fail, but that learning and growing is worth it and that's how you'll eventually experience true confidence in that environment.
Think about stepping out that door, knowing what you're about to do is hard, and do it anyway, because you believe that getting a "C" score is better than not testing at all.
Faith is a test. Are you willing to take that test? Are you willing to fail, in order to learn?
At ten years old, I watched my best friend leap off the hillside and swing-out, arching nearly thirty feet away from the tree that held the long rope swing. His confidence shocked me. I didn't know you could do that. He must have been fifteen feet off the ground below and if something went wrong he was going to the hospital for sure. But nothing went wrong, and as his arch brought him closer to the hillside where I stood, I noticed he was beaming with joy. I wanted that kind of joy.
However, I had reservations. I had no faith in my ability to hold on tight enough, so when it was my turn, I started lower on the hillside and swung out just enough to have my feet leave the ground for a second or two. I tested my faith and passed.
I gradually climbed higher on the hill and jumped further out, until I finally reached the same level as my friend. With our legs swinging freely or at times, kicking frantically to balance our projected landings, we swung over and over. We had the time of our lives.
Then out of the blue, my friend created a new game. This time, instead of swinging away with a taught rope, he decided to swing straight out from the tree with a slack rope. He ran straight down the hill, right past the tree, then leaped into oblivion. When the rope snapped tight and sent him a good fifteen feet from the ground below, his grip held and whoops and hollers escaped his mouth.
If he could do it, maybe I could. But in truth, I didn't have "A" plus confidence for this new game. I thought I could fail. And the prospect of failure meant injury. My friend handed me the rope and gave me a blessing, the kind of blessing only a ten year old can give. "It's super fun, try it!"
I took the rope and tried to imagine success. In fact, for a moment I saw in my own imagination one successful experience. And with that little bit of faith surging in my system, I raced down the hill on a loose rope, straight past the tree, then leaped into oblivion. The rope snapped tight and everything slowed down. First the sweat of my palms betrayed my grip, then my eyes betrayed my focus and I saw the ground below, then I experienced weightlessness. For a short time I was an astronaut. Then... in the very next moment, my breath left my body as I lay splat on the ground fifteen feet below. Above me, through blurred vision I saw the empty rope and my friend both swaying anxiously near the tree, waiting for the results of my tested faith.
I failed. I fell.
Luckily I was not injured permanently. In fact I recovered within twenty minutes and I was back on the swing, just taking things a bit slower again to rebuild that faith.
I'll never forget that day because it taught me a couple of very important life lessons. One: you can build your faith and confidence in yourself slowly. It truly does work. And two: failure and recovery are linked. In other words, if you fail, you will recover.
It's true, in life there are some things you can't recover from, and those are the things that require the firmest confidence and faith. But that kind of faith can grow from smaller tests. In fact, it always does.
One last thing...
I said I failed the test when I fell, but over the years I've learned that there is no such thing as failed faith tests. Because just taking the test, even scoring low on the test, is enough to learn and grow. Not taking the test is the only type of failure there is.
Believe in yourself and begin to grow that belief today by taking little tests.
Below is an example list of four different tests you can take today:
Social confidence test: Say hi to a stranger
Personal confidence test: make your body sweat with exercise of some kind (must get to sweating point)
Relationship confidence test: Say your sorry for things you did and ask for something you want
Financial confidence test: Buy something that you intend to sell for higher value then tell two people about it
Let me know if you take any of these tests, or what tests you make up for yourself.
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