The Gift of Living with Faith
Living at Sanford Air Force Base as a child during WW II, we had a nightly ritual. We pulled down our green shades. I was told this activity—part of an effort to keep our country safe from any potential nighttime bombing by enemies—was to insure we and our neighbors were protected. But I realized later in life that the shades didn’t really do that. They were a way for us to participate in defending the country—if only symbolically. And they became, for my family, a symbol of our faith that we would be okay.
After surviving challenges, we often recognize that having patience, being willing to participate in good efforts and having faith that they will work were all essential ingredients. It’s difficult to predict how or when success will arrive. God has strange ways. There’s a reason that people say, “Revival comes through the back door.”
Faith is a source of comfort, discipline, inner strength, self-confidence, humility and meaningful focus on our day-to-day human experiences—and those moments we seemingly rise above. Both define the self. When we share faith with others, we create immeasurable synergy and wondrous bonds.
As a fifth grader, I biked many miles at a time. Riding was energizing, calming and freeing for me, all at once. The ritual of riding brought God and faith “in the back door,” as the saying goes. I saw the beauty of earth and sky and developed an eye for daily changes in nature.
My childhood faith formation was from religious traditions, obligations and understanding right from wrong. It lacked lessons in optimism and unconditional love. Yet, I found those in the wonders of my own initiative and energy to power a bike, chart a journey and find miracles of nature.
Attending a Quaker school provided opportunities to grow my faith. Our motto was Love, Loyalty and Lowliness (humility). It was a rigorous academic institution, where every person, nation, race and creed was respected. Quaker Meeting, a contemplative time, was an opportunity to worship together and to search as a group for peace and God’s love, as well as stability, healing and compassion for ourselves, our families, our community and our country.
Giving of ourselves was a core principle. The fact that there was importance placed on sharing our God-given abilities with the community and country helped remind all of us that we had those abilities and had the responsibility to develop them.
My father often said, “The Lord will provide.” I lost him suddenly, but remembered that he often spoke those words. And they gave me strength and comfort.
I am a physical therapist. I love science. But nothing about pulling closed the blinds as a symbol of national sovereignty or finding poetic beauty in nature or celebrating our abilities to impact others positively at Quaker Meeting is about science. Neither was my father’s belief that “the Lord will provide.” And, surely, the strength I took from that belief after his death won’t ever be found by searching for it under a microscope.
My decades working with patients have also convinced me of inexplicable and immeasurable forces. Being truthful with patients matters. Inspiring confidence and trust matters. Spurring motivation matters. Spirituality is my ally, whenever it visits.
Patients who suffer a physical setback can lose their sense of identity. But a spiritual center can help rebalance them and trigger their self-fulfilling desire to overcome their “personal limp” and achieve the best possible recovery.
Don’t we all know what it is to limp—whether for a time, or for a very long time? Aren’t commitment and courage and compassion for self some of the essential ingredients in recovering? Of course, they are.
Faith can be shaken, to be sure. Fear will do that. Hopelessness stalks many of us. But my father knew something, for sure: The Lord will provide.
Healing takes time. Staying the course takes courage. But allowing that immeasurable forces often “come in the back door” will allow for miraculous recoveries—whether physically or emotionally or, as is so often essential, both.
Kathi Fairbend, MS, RPT
Kathi Fairbend’s online seminar, The Mind is Three Synapses Away from The Body, will be held April 7th at 11am. There is still time to register HERE.