Living with Faith: Featuring Michelle Leighton
Living with faith.
That sounds like it should be easy. Maybe for some people it is. Me? Eh, I haven’t found it to be a cake walk all the time. LOL
Personally, I think it’s kind of like a muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it gets. I’ve found that to be true in my own life for sure!
The thing about living with faith is that, while it isn’t easy most of the time, it is always, ALWAYS worth it. I’m a total Type A personality. I love control. I love a plan. I love the predictable. All of that runs in direct contrast to faith. Of course. LOL The amazing thing about it, though, is that there is so much freedom in giving up control. It’s hard to do, especially for those of us who really like it, but once we manage to do it, to take our hands off the wheel and say (and MEAN) “Lord, Your will be done,” things get SO MUCH easier! And the more you rinse and repeat, the easier it continues to be.
In my life, it seems I’ve made a serious hobby out of trying to map out the details, from the next ten years to the next ten minutes. I mean, it’s good to have an idea of what you want from your day, and even from your life, but sticking too staunchly to it usually just brings frustration and disappointment. At least in my experience I’ve found that to be true. However, God’s ways truly are higher than ours. He knows what’s around the corner. We don’t. For us to even really WANT to be able to make a plan and stick to it is kind of like lunacy, right? For example, if I knew today that I’d be moving to Hawaii tomorrow (so much wishful thinking in that statement LOL), I certainly wouldn’t want to go sign a contract to start building a house in South Carolina. That would make no sense and it would be really, really stupid. But I have no way of knowing those kinds of things. Sometimes I wish I did. Sometimes I’d love to know what’s coming so I could plan my little heart out. Even now that makes me smile. The control freak in me LURVES the idea of KNOWING. The truth is, that’s never going to happen, so practicing to “let go and let God” is really a great use of my time.
Trusting that God has a good plan for my life is actually very relaxing when I focus on it, when I TRY to let go of the reins and just be still. What I’ve noticed is that I worry less, I stress less, I’m happier and I’m much less irritable. One of the greatest side effects of living in faith, I’ve found, is being able to completely and profoundly enjoy the present. When I’m not expending so much energy worrying about how to control the uncontrollable and predict the unpredictable, I can remember how much I love the feel of sun on my face, the wind in my hair, the grass under my feet. I can remember how priceless it is to spend a warm summer evening outside with my amazing husband and our sweet little dog. I can remember how precious it is to be able to hear the birds just after sunrise, and take in the sound of a trickling brook. I can remember to be THANKFUL for every small and great thing. When my mind is constantly racing to figure things out, all the wonders of the NOW fade into the background. I’m missing the very blessings that God has given me TODAY because I’m worrying about TOMORROW. That in itself is a tragedy. Tomorrow isn’t my territory. I have no grace for that. I have grace, and plenty of it, for TODAY. And ONLY today. I have no idea if I’ll even be here tomorrow. Do I really, REALLY want to waste what could well be my last hours and minutes on this earth worrying instead of watching the sun set? No, I absolutely do not.
For those of you who have lost a loved one, you probably have a better feel for what it really means to live in the now. You can look back and wish you’d taken more time to go visit or call, or that you’d been more “present” at Christmas last year. Committing to living a life of faith as much as I possibly can is enriching my life in ways I never expected, and yet I wouldn’t trade for anything. I don’t want my life to end with a list of regrets. I want it to end with a million beautiful memories of living each day to the fullest and trusting God to work it all out in the end.
That’s what faith is, after all—trusting God to work out all the things we can’t control (which is almost everything). Trusting that if we do our very best, that if we do what’s right as often as possible, He will do what we can’t. We have to trust that He’ll take all the seemingly random pieces and fit them all together into the picture of a beautiful, full life. And He will do it perfectly! That’s what He wants for all of us, and I genuinely believe that finding it starts with giving it to Him. Handing it all over to God is as amazing as it is essential for spiritual health and growth, in my opinion. There is freedom in it. There is promise in it. There is hope in it. There is a kind of richness I never, in all my forty * cough cough * years, realized was available to me. I just had to put in the work to TRUST. I can tell you without a doubt, though, that it’s worth it. It might be the most worthwhile investment you’ll ever make. Your face will thank you for the increase in smiles, your family will thank you for the increase in laughs, your boss will thank you for the increase in productivity. Most of all, YOU will thank you for a life you actually ENJOY. It’s win-win. Win-win-win-win.
Don’t be frustrated if you don’t become the picture of zen overnight, though. To my knowledge that doesn’t happen to anyone. LOL It’s a process, like growing a delicate vine that will one day bear stunning flowers. It’s something that has to be tended to ON PURPOSE every single day. Watering, feeding, pruning. Some of it’s glorious, some…well, not so much. Some days you won’t want to. Some days it’s easier to just wallow in worry. Some days you just want the discomfort to stop. But if you get back on the horse, it DOES get easier over time. Once you get a little taste of the reward, it becomes easier to seek it more and more often. It gets easier to put in the time, to grit your teeth through the pain, knowing that it’s working something magical in the vine that is YOU. Because one day the beauty that comes from it… well, it will take your breath away! Others will be able to see it, too. They’ll be able to see that, when you come down to it, happiness is a choice. It’s all up to us. How we spend each day might be dictated by responsibilities like work and family and lawn care and cooking and cleaning, BUT how we go about all those things is up to us. I know for a fact that living in faith can make even the things we don’t LOVE much more tolerable. We can CHOOSE to view them as blessings, even if we have to get creative about it. LOL
For instance, rather than focusing on how much I despise doing the dishes, I choose to be grateful that I had food to put on them and a family to eat with. Rather than focusing on how much I don’t want to clean, I can be thankful for a home and heat and air conditioning and furniture. In my opinion, all of that comes when I try to live a life of faith. It’s made me more appreciative of every single thing. It’s made me BE in the moment, and when I live that way, I don’t WANT to be miserable cleaning my house or doing what needs to be done. I WANT to enjoy it. Living in faith has a kind of cascade effect. It trickles down into every aspect of your life, from the huge events to the minutia. And who doesn’t want to have a life they enjoy?
Michelle Leighton is a New York Times Bestselling author, and an amazing woman of faith. She writes books, lives her faith, and is a shining example of what women should aspire to be.