When I was in third grade, every night I would press my palms together before I drifted off to sleep — it was my little language I had with God. Somehow, I told myself that if I pressed my palms together as tightly as I could, and felt that warmth in my hands, whatever I said, God would hear me. I would do this ritual nightly and talk to God, asking Him to visit me in my dreams. I would ask Him to show Himself to me and talk back to me as I dreamt.
And then, I would slowly feel my eyelids fall, and I would be transported into my world of dreams. I remember dreaming about swimming with dolphins, getting lost in the woods behind my house with my friends, fears, fantasies, and even heaven — but I never did see God.
When I woke up in the morning, I would run through my dream from start to finish, for as long as I could remember to see if God made an appearance. I never did spot Him. I often imagined him as the maple tree, right outside my window, and told myself that he never came to visit me because he was too busy watching over me as I slept, keeping our house safe.
I rubbed my palms together more firmly and intensely as I grew older, all the way until I was a teenager. I never gave up my search for God. I saw Him in all of nature, but I wanted my own message in my dreams. Outside my window there were so many different trees, every tree unique and unashamed to be so. They stood tall, and each outstretched its branches to God in its own heartfelt way; some reached wide, tall, around and some reached deep down into the earth, which is what their roots are for. And they reach out towards each other too. They all knew that God was everywhere, including in themselves.
As I grew older, I found it harder and harder to believe in what I couldn’t see. My life became messy and filled with doubt. I found myself constantly asking God why I feel so deeply and why bad things happened to the people I love the most. I was in pain, wondering why I couldn’t gain control over my life. Wondering how I could recover from an eating disorder when I was ready to abandon my faith completely.
I wouldn’t say that I stopped believing, but I stopped talking to my Higher Power. Losing your faith is a scary thing — especially in the midst of danger and uncertainty — because you don’t have anything substantial to stand on. There is nothing to tell yourself when you fall, and there is nothing to push you forward, even when the future feels daunting.
Up until then, my faith had been the organizing principle of my life.
It was scary to lose sight of for that short while. Then, I realized I went through those obstacles for the sake of my greater purpose. We all have one. It just took my a while to find mine.
I found strength and my path to recovery through my faith. I found compassion and love for myself and others. I believe that faith is trusting in love, goodness, and kindness. I call that God. Not everyone calls that God.
For me, faith is trusting that everything will be okay, because someone’s looking out for you. Faith doesn’t have to be a blind leap. It can be what we carry with us in each step we take of our daily lives, as the rule and not the exception.
It is with faith that we can accomplish our dreams; it is with faith that we can build visions of new beginnings, filled with possibilities; it is with faith that our creativity grows; and it is with faith that we can take hold of the energy we need to carry us through all the changes we will encounter.