4 Ways to Keep the FaithWhatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. ~Eckhart Tolle
The past few weeks, spurred by anxiety that sits heavy on my chest, I’ve been exerting all of my energy going against the flow of life. I’ve been operating from a mindset that says if I try a little harder, if I take control a little more, than things can be how they are meant to be.
Long distance relationships — i.e. overseas in a combat zone — are nothing new to me. I endured two deployments in the four years I spent as a military girlfriend and another two deployments when my boyfriend went back overseas as a private contractor.
As a veteran returning to a tough job market with skills geared towards operating in a combat zone, the move to overseas contracting was logical, although not much easier.
Two deployments in, he returned home with the goal of finding work that would allow him to stay in the United States. Four months later, any hope we had in that plan dried up. Jobs just weren’t all that easy to come by.
As he broke the news that another deployment might be his only option, my heart buckled. All the faith I had that things would pan out, that we wouldn’t have to go through this again, flew out the window.
I wrestled with the resentment I had toward him — that he didn’t try hard enough, that he didn’t want it enough. If I could blame it on him, I thought maybe that would create some forward movement toward a better outcome.
Unfortunately, operating from a knee-jerk negative reaction doesn’t create a positive outcome.
The resistance I had in the days following this exchange began affecting everything — my sleep, my work, my entire way of being. I was consumed with thoughts of how things could change to fit the picture I had in my mind.
Then, laying emotions aside, we had a conversation with my parents about the possibility he might return to Iraq.
And I surrendered.
It wasn’t anything in particular, just a sudden release of the anxiety and resistance.
It would all be ok. It had always been ok.
Lessons to Be Learned
The truth is, our time apart, although never ideal, had taught me a lot of things — how to be independent, how to take care of the things he had traditionally taken care of, how to enjoy being alone.
While I would always rather he be there by my side, there was a reason why this was the path we found ourselves on. There were lessons to be learned from all of it.
Release, depending on the magnitude of the situation and the state of mind we find ourselves in, can come over a long period of time or in the blink of an eye. But if we are to find inner peace and surrender to what life is trying to show and tell us, it must happen.
It’s a matter of knowing that the outside circumstances may not change, but that in going with the flow of life, we can be lifted up and supported by the waves.
Need to Manipulate
While I generally have a tough time trusting that there is a divine order and timing to everything, I know there have been distinct moments in my life where I’ve handed over the need to manipulate, control and manage to something greater than myself.
What it takes is a conscious laying down of the ego and a decision to stop dirtying ourselves with the details.
Faith is easy in times when things are flowing in the direction we envision and the pieces are falling together without much effort, but faith is only strengthened when the road is rocky and you can’t see when or where the relief will come from.
Here are a few ways to keep the faith when times are tough.
1. Reflect On the Resolutions of Past Circumstances
I find great solace in knowing that every single situation I’ve poured my energy into worrying about has found some kind of resolution. And, in reflecting over it now, I can’t even conjure up the emotion I felt back then because I realize how little the majority of these situations actually mattered.
Kinks always find a way of working themselves out, and the beauty of life is that hindsight is 20-20. You will eventually reach the other side and be able to reflect on the lessons you’ve learned and the strength you’ve gained.
2. Put Stressful Thoughts On the Back Burner
When I know I’ve spent an excessive amount of time worrying about something out of my control, I visualize the physical act of putting these thoughts in the very back of my mind. In releasing the responsibility you feel to mull over the situation, you allow things to begin flowing again.
Ask yourself if there’s an action that can be made in this moment to improve the situation. If there’s not, you are in no way required to keep the thoughts turning in your mind.
3. Find a Place of Positivity
Sometimes a situation is too overwhelming and too emotionally charged to find any positivity surrounding it. If that’s the case, reflect on something else.
Immerse yourself in thoughts that resonate in a positive, light place — your family, your home, anything that makes you feel good just thinking about it. You’ll notice that this loosens tension in your body and allows you to resume operating from a more sane, logical place.
4. Recognize How Ego Drives Your Anxiety
Ego likes to tell us that things aren’t ok and they won’t be ok anytime in the near future. In other words, it abolishes our faith before it’s able to find stable footing.
Recognize when you’re operating from a place of ego — when you are spending too much time controlling and fretting and not enough time recognizing the true reality of the situation. Begin to view ego as something separate from yourself, a pest that you can request take a step back and stop voicing its opinion.
Then, take positive steps to return to that place of faith.
How do you keep the faith in the midst of tough situations?