I do not have a lot of faith.
I don’t mean religious faith, though the church and I stopped seeing eye to eye long ago. (Me and God are cool, though. Most of the time.)
I mean, I simply don’t believe in things. I tend to need things I can see and touch and hear and feel. I need evidence. I need facts. I need clarity. I don’t have a lot of belief in nebulous ideas about faith because they aren’t concrete enough for me. Because while I know faith carries people, it doesn’t really work that way for me. On a macro level, I know I’ll always be fine.
I just know that God or the Universe or The Time Keepers or whoever is going to drag me to hell first.
So, it’s hard to trust it.
I’ve made my peace with it, mostly. It’s not good or bad, it just is. And I never really question it. Until I encounter someone who has all the faith in all the good things.
We’re having dinner via Zoom, as that is currently my 2nd most common way to eat a meal (the first being while standing over my sink watching TV and eating whatever snack I Frankensteined together because I couldn’t bear the thought of cooking and cleaning my kitchen.) We’re talking about all the machinations I’d been crafting to make the next part of my life look like what I wanted. And the more I talk, the more he furrows his brow. I groan like a teenager.
“You’re making the face.”
“The face you make when you wanna say something, but you think I’m not gonna like it.”
“I don’t have a face!”
“You SO have a face, so what the fuck is it?”
He pauses thoughtfully, chewing his food and his words before he speaks.
“La, you just work so hard.”
We’ve had this conversation before. He tends to be a person who just reacts to whatever comes his way. I usually prefer to have a bit more of a hand in crafting what’s coming.
“So, what do you expect me to do? Nothing?”
“You could afford a lot more nothing.”
“I’ve had a whole year and a half of nothing!”
“Bullshit. You’ve had a year of being home. And then half a year of being on the road. But none of it has been nothing.”
I truly don’t like when he’s right.
“I’m trying to-“
“I know. I hear you. You gotta put in the work now, to reap the benefits of what you want later. I get that. I do. But you also tend to be a person who gets what you want by the sheer force of your will. And while I love to see you get what you want, what damage is it doing to you along the way?”
I don’t have an answer to this, but he’s also not really asking me a question.
“What if you just did something, even if you didn’t know the how?”
“How the fuck am I supposed to do something if I don’t know how?”
“You know what I mean. You just do it. Throw yourself into it headfirst, foolhardily. Just go for it. Without having first planned your steps and figured out how it’s going to end up. Just, you know, surrender.”
“That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.”
It’s not, of course. And this isn’t a new conversation for us. But I am not particularly prone to surrender.
“What are you so afraid of?” He asks it gently, but it makes me feel defensive nonetheless.
“I’m not afraid-“
“You seem afraid of something here-“
“It’s not that. It’s just that I know the answer.”
He does the thing he does where he raises his eyebrow at me when he knows I’m about to say something that is bullshit and right now I hate his stupid, smug face.
“I’m not afraid,” is all I can manage to retort as I sip what is either my second or my seventh drink.
“Maybe afraid isn’t the word. You’re one of the most fearless people I know. But can I tell you what I think is happening here?”
I don’t bother responding because I know, again, he’s not actually asking.
“It’s not that you’re scared. It’s that you’re talking yourself out of even asking because the things you want seem crazy. You’re telling yourself it’s too big to even try. And I think that’s stupid.”
“Did you just call me stupid?”
“No, I said the thing you’re doing is stupid. It’s a slight, but important distinction.”
I grumble under my breath the kinda things that, were I serious, would be very mean. But as usual, he pays me no mind.
“You think in order for things to work out, you have to know how you’re going to get there. That you have to know if it’s a good idea on the front end. That you need to have a battleplan already drawn. And I’m telling you, maybe it’s okay to ask for what you want without knowing how you’ll get there from here.”
“That doesn’t make sense. I need to know how-“
“No, you don’t.”
“Let me finish! I need to know how-“
“No, you don’t.”
We’re at a stalemate. If I keep trying to finish my sentence, he’s going to keep cutting me off, and I am going to have to figure out how to claw his face off through an iPad screen.
“Why don’t I need to know the how?” I ask, rolling my eyes because I know he is about to give me some tea leaves and crystals and vibes bullshit.
“It’s not that you never need to know the how. It’s not that you never need to have a plan. It’s that sometimes it’s okay not to. And you should allow yourself to want the things you want, even the ones that don’t make sense.”
Fuck. I hate when he makes a good point that I can’t deftly pick apart.
“I’m not huge on leaps of faith. I tend to fall on my face.”
“That is fucking true. But my God, La. When you get up again. You’re magnificent.”
He’s smiling at me, all bright and warm and despite my surface irritation, I feel myself returning it.
“All I’m saying is that maybe when there’s an opportunity for it in your life, you take some big swings.”
“I don’t even know what that means.”
“It means power hit for the home run even if you aren’t sure you can pass the outfield.”
“Basketball or football me, please.”
“It means throw down the middle even when there are a dozen guys on defense in your field of vision and trust that your receiver is in the end zone.”
“Why didn’t we just run a route to the outside?”
“La, I will fight you.”
We both laugh because we both know I’m just being ridiculous because he’s right, but I’ll never tell him that.
“Maybe football wasn’t the best analogy ‘cause the quarterback does have to anticipate some of the moves on the field-
“HOWEVER,” he says, talking over my interruption, “think of it as taking the half-court shot even when Kawhi is guarding you. You take it trusting that everything you know, everything you’ve done is going to come together to sink it. Even if it seems improbable.”
“But what if I don’t hit the shot?”
“Then you keep shooting until the game is over. And if the game is over, you show up for the next game to play again.”
“Did you just tell me to be the Steph Curry of, like, life?”
“You are so fucking difficult.”
We look at each other and laugh. I hear what he’s saying. But faith- true, step-out-on-a-limb, leap-of-faith, walk-on-water faith- is hard for me. I need to see things. I need to know the how.
“You don’t always have to know the how,” he says as if he’s reading my mind.
“I hear you. But that’s hard for me.”
“I know. Which is how I know it’s worth it. Want what you want. Even if getting it seems impossible. Why settle for what’s most convenient when you can get what you actually want?”
I don’t have an answer, but he’s not really asking me. He’s gently prodding me in that way your loved ones do when they can see a blind spot you can’t.
“Big swings, okay?”