Faith and Hope

I once made a comment to the effect that if I had much faith that the Universe would provide for me, I wouldn’t be a magician.

Faith isn’t really my strong suit. I guess that makes me a pessimist. But I think there are a couple of different kinds of faith, and I’m more inclined toward some than others.

I don’t have much faith that the Universe in General is looking out for me. I am simply too small, and the Universe too vast, for me to be significant enough to catch Its notice. Maybe some of the local gods might toss me a bone every once in a while, but I am under no illusion that I can aspire to much more than favored pet that they still might forget to water when they leave for summer camp. Life has sucker punched me too many times for me to think that if I only Eat Pray Love or master The Secret and wish enough, everything will fall into place. That shit takes hard work (and maybe a bit of probability shifting).

But I put a lot of faith in people.

I have faith that people will act according to their nature. I also have faith that when people commit to something great and important, that they will put their energy into it and likely succeed. On occasion, I’ve put my faith in people who have let me down, but honestly I don’t think that’s important. What was important is that I put that faith, that trust in them to begin with, and that trust offered them support when they needed it.

Unfortunately, I don’t often have faith in myself.

The thing about faith is that is something you resort to when the outcome is uncertain. When probabilities are off, when all factors can’t be accounted for, and when you just have to go along and have faith things will go well. And I really suck at that. I want a reasonable degree of certainty. I want to know all the factors. I want to know likely outcomes. Sitting back and letting things “work out as they may” is frustrating and anxiety inducing for me.

This Scorpio needs to know.

And this is a lesson I have been torturing myself to learn over the past year. My whole experience with Luna was about being present in the moment and trusting that things would work out for the best. Instead I stressed over what I wanted and whether it would happen or not, and things ended up a mess. The pieces are still falling, and it hurt a lot, but ultimately, I think things did work out for the best anyway.

I had hoped they would turn out differently, though.

Hope is a different monster for me. I’ve always felt that I hoped a but too much, really.

For me, hope has always been connected to futility, or at least improbability. If I truly hope for something, it is something that I feel unlikely to work out, but I cling to that notion it somehow will. (This is obviously not true for colloquial uses. If I tell you “I hope you have a great day today!” I’m not implying that you aren’t likely to and I want you to beat the odds.)

Hope has always been something that has allowed me to cling to things that weren’t working well. Sure, the Thing may be obviously Bad and Not Working, but maybe if I Hope enough it will miraculously work out!

That’s a cruel thing to do to myself.

So when I read DON’s discussion of hope, it intrigued me, as I’m not used to thinking of it this way.

Until today, I’ve defined “hope” as a kind of blind faith in the manifestation of some desired outcome. Even when I was Catholic, I was not good at blind faith (which, I think, is to my credit in that case). I always want to know everything there is to know about everything – including the future. It’s uncomfortable (dare I say painful?) to just wait and see how things will turn out. I feel driven toward certainty, overcoming, and getting, because I know I have it in me to have what I want.

But now, I’m coming to understand hope as something completely different. It’s not blind faith, and it’s not even faith. Hope is a kind of certainty-within-uncertainty that arises from an understanding of how the universe works. There is no need to trust or have faith in anything, because it is a fact of nature that the right good things will come to me at times.

This is the complete opposite of how I view hope.

Whereas I view hope as clinging to an outcome or result that is unlikely, DON views it as the certainly that what you need will come to you. Oddly enough, this is kind of how I view faith.

The sun sends out its rays into the universe, as it has done for about 4.5 billion years. All evidence points towards the continuation of this phenomenon for at least the duration of my lifetime. Hope is knowing that some of those rays will fall on my face, and they will be enough to warm me. Attempts to redirect sunlight toward me will bring pain – sunburn, skin cancer, bugs writhing in pain underneath magnifying glasses.

The tide moves water toward and away from the shore on a predictable schedule. Every tide deposits something onto the beach – seaweed, shells, trash, treasures. Hope is knowing that some tides will bring treasures to my part of the shore. Attempts to redirect the tide may increase the chance that I’ll receive a treasure, but they’ll also bring more trash.

Shenanigans, not beauty.

I’m not saying I should become completely passive. There are times and places to set goals and work to achieve them. There are other times and places for waiting to see what surprises are in store.

Again, this is how I have viewed faith, the very thing I have struggled with and sought to learn, and which DON says isn’t what this is. I think we have some different notions of faith as well.

I think we’re quibbling over semantics.

I’m not one for predestination. I’m not really one for fate. But I like the idea of destiny. The idea that if you follow and express your natural talents, abilities, and personality, you will be taken in a certain direction.

For example, I’m going to write a book. I’m a writer; it is inherent to who I am. And one day it will manifest in a book. The question is whether that will happen in one year or 40. And in focusing on that question, and worrying about it, I miss out on the simple fact that eventually it will work itself out and happen as it should. I can either fight it or go with it, but it will happen. And I think that is the faith that I’m looking for: the faith that it will work out as it naturally should. Faith that I will write that book, meet that woman, or land that dream job.

DON talks about hope as a way of relaxing and letting things unfold as they should, but not forcing the matter and straining it. It is the reassurance that things will eventually turn out as they should, even if you’re on a low end of the cycle.

DON says that hope isn’t faith, but I think I’ll have to disagree. I think that what she describes as a certainty-within-uncertainty, I see as a faith in faith. If faith is trusting that things will turn out as they should, then hope is the reassurance that this holds true even when things seem to not be going your way.

And maybe I’ve misread DON. (That’s okay – I’ve gotten insights from what she’s said other than what she intended before.) And maybe she’ll disagree with me on this. (That’s okay too — I welcome an opportunity to further process this idea.) But I think that by seeing these concepts in these terms, I’m better able to make use of them, and to discard the more negative (or pretentious) associations I may have carried with them previously.



4 responses to “Faith and Hope

  1. Pingback: Faith and Hope | Practical Pagans

  2. You understood me. No matter the word used to label it, it allows me to face the future without (much) anxiety, and enjoy the moment as much as possible. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Faith and Hope | Song of the Firebird

  4. Pingback: Faith and Hope in Religion | A Glorious Beauty

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