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.
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.