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Leaps of Faith

Why are some leaps of faith so easy while others seem so much less so?

When you really think about it, it’s remarkable how many leaps of faith we take on a daily basis without even realizing it. I thought about this while riding the elevator up to my office just a bit ago when I returned from lunch.

By stepping into that elevator and pressing “5″ I was taking a leap of faith that the elevator was in good working order and would deliver me safely to the 5th floor. There were no guarantees. But I never questioned it. I had faith.

This is a pretty poor example of a leap of faith though, because I’ve ridden that elevator countless times, never seen it have an issue, and thus have been able to build trust in it. Any “leap” of faith required to ride it isn’t much of a leap at all.

We take leaps of faith every time we get into a car, trusting that other motorists will obey traffic laws and that we’ll all navigate home safely.

We take leaps of faith when we eat something, trusting that it’s not poisoned or rotten or otherwise carrying some element that would make us ill.

I took a leap of faith in starting this blog post that it will result in something meaningful and cogent, worth posting. Otherwise I’ll have just wasted my time.

So you get my point: we are always taking leaps of faith, whether we view them as such or not.

But there are those few leaps of faith we have to take, the most consequential ones, that can be so difficult.

Image source: Faith. Home. Love.

Accepting a religion requires a massive leap of faith.

Taking a job, and staying with a job, can require huge, ongoing leaps of faith.

Love, of course, requires a ginormous leap of faith.

Sometimes when I find myself struggling to take a leap of faith that I want to take, and that I feel I should be able to take, I realize that I’m subconsciously changing the criteria.

Why do I feel so comfortable getting on the elevator? Because of actions. I’ve seen the elevator work over and over again. Every time something could go wrong with it that would negatively affect me – which is every single time I’m on it – nothing goes wrong. The trust is easy. Maybe I’d feel differently if I’d ever been trapped on an elevator. Luckily I haven’t been, and (knock on wood) let’s hope that continues.

But other times, at more consequential times, I don’t feel like I base my readiness to leap based on action. I notice conjecture or worry or fear entering into the equation saying, in effect, “No! You might get trapped on that elevator!”

This flummoxes me a bit, because I am one of those cock-eyed optimist types. The glass is always half full. There is never a dark cloud without a silver lining.

Maybe it’s the finality of a leap of faith.

As Søren Kierkegaard is credited with explaining the concept, “the transition from one quality to another can take place only by a “leap” (Thomte 232). When the transition happens, one moves directly from one state to the other, never possessing both qualities.”

Leaps of faith require commitment. I can’t simultaneously be on the elevator and taking the stairs. I take the leap of faith and riding the elevator is the choice.

When the stakes raise, so too does apprehension that can be associated with such one-or-the-other choices.

If I make the leap of faith to love someone, the implications are enormous. Of course, the implications of not taking the leap can be just as enormous, though in this case the status quo is more closely maintained, which oftentimes seems comforting (whether it will really turn out to be or not).

The question is: what is the best way to decide to take the leap or not? And the more I examine it in my own life, the more I realize the importance of judging actions.

This is a way of keeping logic and reason in the discussion for as long as possible. Ultimately a leap of faith, by definition, has to go beyond logic and reason; but doesn’t it seem like we’ll make the best choice the longer they are involved?

In the absence of logic and reason, too often fear or self-doubt or ego or pride rush in to fill the void. This can lead us to eschew what we know, what we’ve seen, what has actually happened, in favor of so much else that is speculative, comparatively irrelevant, and possibly dead wrong.

And that’s no way to decide whether to leap or not.

The big leaps of faith can certainly be scary. They should be. Every one is a moment of no return. You’ll never be the same after a leap, which can be good or bad depending on what happens.

But at least if we make our decision to leap or not for the right reasons, we never have to regret it. There really isn’t much worse than regret.

*****

In closing, let me just say thank you for taking the leap of faith to read this. Hopefully the elevator delivered you where it was supposed to. :-)

About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.

Comments

  1. I’m more of a “stairs” kind of girl….safe, reliable, and good exercise ;-)

    But you have always been great at leaping and not worrying about where you land, because you know you’ll be fine once you do. I have always admired that about you, and I wish I could take more “leaps.”

    -AJ
    FitTravelerAJ.blogspot.com

    • Jerod Morris says:

      Thanks kiddo :-) Haha, I should probably take the stairs more too. This is why our friendship works. We balance each other!

  2. Robert Morris says:

    The leap of faith to read this post was easy based on the content in your previous writings. “Faith” is belief in the unseen. Faith in God is a big leap but a very good one when taken. Why take it? Can’t prove His existence scientifically but we can see His work in the world around us. I believe trying to figure everything out in your head before taking a leap leads to a very predictable but boring life. If everything needed to line up and be checked off before I headed into a relationship, I would have never met my wife. A life that does not stretch the mind or the heart will lead to the regrets you talked about. Having faith has a lot to do wi believing in yourself and what you are made of. Earlier successful leaps of faith should lead to more Keep getting on elevators

    • Jerod Morris says:

      Well thank you for leaping and reading. And you’re right when you say that not everything should be figured out in the head before taking a leap. In fact, sometimes we get so caught up in our own heads that it leads to paralysis by analysis. That’s why I think, for me, just focusing on what HAS happened rather than spending tons of time on conjecture is so much more appropriate and leads to better decisions.

  3. Robert Morris says:

    Growing up in athletics and being a part of the coaching profession for years, I was amazed how many times we as coaches were paralyzed by our own analysis. THe really good coaches can analyze, but still takes those leaps of faith into the unknown, become unpredictable, and successful. I include Jim Harbaugh and the 49er staff in that group. The baseball manager who does not go by the book, Tampa’s Joe Maddon comes to mind are my favorites.

  4. …..We take leaps of faith every time we get into a car, trusting that other motorists will obey traffic laws and that we’ll all navigate home safely……

    …..We take leaps of faith when we eat something, trusting that it’s not poisoned or rotten or otherwise carrying some element that would make us ill…..

    Getting stuck in an elevator would be just an inconvenience, less risky than falling down the stairs because of a misstep. Crossing a street, riding a bike or driving a car imply the risk of being hit by an imprudent motorist. – They are “known” risks, with no alternatives. Unless you you don’t go out of your (stairless) home, but then it wil be difficult to come across the love of your life :-) .
    So, sorry, I don’t see your above examples as leaps of faith.

    Faith means “trust in the unseen”, as Robert Morris put it. That is, in my understanding, truly faith. One must have the option NOT to put his faith in the unknown. The reasons for believing in God are as valid as are the arguments for not believing. I don’t have that religious faith, there is nothing wrong with that.

    Thank you for reading this – if it reaches you at all, after eight months!
    Regards,

    Federico

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