Steady to Faithfulness

Amazing how easy it is for us to be happy, content and even stronger in our faith when things are nice and easy isn’t it? When all is calm and things are going our way, and there is nothing but smooth sailing ahead, we tend to be 100% loyal and devoted to our faith. We praise God, we speak of how blessed we are and how no matter what, we know we are loved and that everything will be ok; because we have faith.
We even have the gall to tell people to be more like us, in so many words, and never lose faith as they go through their own trials and tribulations (while inwardly judging them for being so weak minded and weak spirited as to have doubted or let go of faith all together).
We speak words of deceiving consolation, like “everything will work itself out” and “all things happen for a reason” (words which, though true, may not bear any weight if we do not fully grasp their meaning our selves)
And yet, there on the horizon, a storm is always brewing, getting ready to attack our little ship. And I find, particularly in my case, that the second the storm thrashes us about, we get immediately disoriented. We lose all faith, and we clamor out against whomever, or whatever we believed so firmly in until we got hit by lightning. All words of consolation (the ones we may have uttered while trying to console others but which we never knew the real meaning of) slip from our minds, all feeling of safety and steadiness drifts away from us, and then the despair sets in. Clawing at us with sharp talons that are able to pierce through our entire being because we were not properly protected against them. (Where does our “faith” armor go then? Or just how weak was it to begin with?)
Over the years, I have had my fare share of storms, and though I have survived all of them, I admit, I did not act quite as steady and composed as I would have liked through all of them. (Nor do I think this to be possible 100% of the time being that we are, after all, human to the bone, and we are prone to unsteadiness and doubt every now and then). However, it is only now, through the practice of yoga, that I have been able to learn something new. I have learned to ground down, breathe and open up through the wonderful, the painful, the lonely, the scary, the known, and the unknown.
Now, I am not saying I am, by all means, a super hero, and that nothing bothers me, or that I no longer get sad, depressed or even lose faith now and then. But what I am saying is that I am learning (as I shall never stop learning) all these things are in existence with in me. I am learning, that I can chose how to approach any situation in life and I am learning that it is this approach that makes all the difference.
It is a wonder to me, really, that it has taken me quite this long to figure this out, because all my life, I have been witness to this very concept all around me. But hey, sometimes we are too wrapped up in our own little insecure worlds to take a look around and learn something rather than judge something, aren’t we.
But I digress, yes, I had been privy to this kind of steadiness from the moment I was born. You see, every member in my family has mastered this little steadiness to one degree or another, and frankly, I could go on for another thousand pages detailing how my oldest brother has become an incredible man by withstanding trials and tribulations many would have succumbed to, or how the love and faithfulness of my younger brother and his wife healed my very soul, or how the rock solid faith of the middle of these three brothers of mine has helped him look as a rock-star for God in my mind, or how my amazing husband has managed to simply take it all in and become a sanctuary when all around him, things were crumbling apart (things like me, mind you). Ahem, like I said, there are stories, upon stories I could tell you about, but since that would simply take too long, I will rely upon my very best example of fortitude and steadiness from which there can arise a powerful faith, and that is my mother.
I can say with confidence, that you will rarely get the privilege to meet a woman quite as implacable and strong in her faith as she is. The woman has been a fighter from the very day she was born (much like myself in that sense, come to think of it) and she has never once given up (well, ok, she is human, so she may have given up once or twice, but I certainly never saw this, so it may have been in her youth, when we all have dreadfully unsteady grasps on reality). Even in the darkest, hardest of times, this woman so precious to all of us, managed to not only keep the ship afloat, more often than not with all of us in it mind, but she also managed to do this with all the steadiness and equilibrium of a true yogi (or a really talented aerial acrobat at least).
She managed, from a very young age, to know that it is ok to sit with all that is, the good, the bad and the in between, and allow all of it to create a beautifully strong flower. (the proverbial, and often favorite reference of mine, the lotus rising from the mud in a gloriously triumphant burst of life and love).
And, although I had seen this growing up, it is only now that I realize how vital this steadiness is to us all. Matter of fact, it is only now I realize where I must have began to learn it all. Way before yoga, way before philosophy, or school, or even way before I could fully grasp even the simplest concepts of life, her example and the examples of all the wonderful members in my family led me to this point in my life.
And there is something particularly interesting to me about this concept of steadiness that I have been exploring on and off my mat this week, and that is the fact that steadiness rooted in our faith that we are exactly who and as we are meant to be at any given present moment, creates an unimaginable openness.
See the thing is, we tend to think, and you may have felt this as you read my description of the pillar of courage that is my mother, that in order to be steadily grounded in your faith, you have to be strong. (And no, I don’t mean like, Hulk strong, I mean the kind of “strong” we hear about when people tell us not to show weakness, to keep it all in and to just be strong. That is the kind of fake strength that I think most of us think about when it comes to being steady and faithful) But the truth is, real faith, real steadiness and awareness brings with it all the openness you can find in a baby’s tears when he/she genuinely just needed to release an emotion he/she did not want to store inside. [mini side note – funny thing about babies is, not only do they know how to use their bodies, breath and focus better than we do, they also know it is not healthy to store things inside, lest they get sick, which is kind of what we do, we sweep it all under that proverbial rug, and then we are sick…. And I digress again]
So, you see, the thing about learning to be present with in the storm, the calm and even the in between of it all means we have to be open enough to grace to let it all create enough healing energy inside us that we can grow from it all, so that we can bloom and shine and continue to live in a faithful manner.
So next time the storm assails your ship, take a moment to ground down, breathe, and open up to grace, and I can tell you, it will make all the difference in the world.

“Those who seek to acquire steadiness of faith must first acquire the strength to bear grief and pain, insult and injury. The succession of joy and grief must help confirm the faith and make it immovable. That alone can evidence true devotion.”

Sri Sathya Sai Baba quotes