On Faith

"You don’t need a plan; you just need to be present." ― Bob Goff in Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

If you had told me six years ago I’d become a Christian, I would have laughed in your face - audibly. Jesus is in my corner. Why do I need to label myself? How about Buddhist, then? That’s far more likely. Proudly agnostic? Oh, for sure. But no, never a Christian.

But this isn’t about my elementary theology or poor rhetoric in Apologetics. It is about a faith cultivated to be so grand that the sweeping tale of redemption – over and over again (cue: Tim McGraw. Thanks, Nelly) – points to nothing else but transformative love. So much love.

Five years ago, a tremendous amount of disdain and negativity brought me from a slow downhill stroll with psychological dependencies to a full on face-plant at the bottom. I was exhausted from pretending to be happy and strong for so long, disgusted by the shame and embarrassment of my behavior, and infinitely resentful towards my parents. All of these things manifested in visible ways, too – lots of emotional overeating, a slew of meaningless physical relationships, an overabundance of elitist cynicism…and pretty bad skin. The company I kept was equally, if not more miserable, than I was.

Recovery was a mixture of a new set of circumstances I had to adapt to, coming from one single catalyst: my uncle had been diagnosed with late-stage cancer. The right thing to do was to relocate back to New Jersey and heed their quiet call for assistance in their home.

For the first time, in a very long time, courtesy had to take precedence over my own selfish behavior. It required me to be kinder, more generous, more responsible, more grateful, and much more loving. I could finally see that the tools to rediscover myself were right in front of me if I chose to take responsibility for my own wellness. With time, and space, I could safely explore my own heart without the overpowering fear of condemnation I had been living with for so long. A new chapter was being handed to me on a tarnished silver platter (one could actually say it took the form of my aunt’s Vitamix) – and I was immensely grateful to have it. I was slowly led towards a dedicated yoga practice which brightly lit up my faith from within. My relationship with myself changed as my practice on the mat grew more meaningful; and then, my relationships with others began to change. Friendships deepened, insecurities lessened, and agendas disappeared. Yoga was helping me live out my life as a Believer, both internally and externally.

All of life is an adaptation, and our lives are meant to be transformed. Each day will bring about a new set of growth and challenges. All of the planning we do carries the possibility of breakage, and while we won’t always have the answers, being broken is perfectly okay. It takes time for your life to be refashioned once you have accepted you are not in control. Patience with yourself and the willingness to be transformed will open up your life to all the experiences you need to become your greatest self.

If you are being called towards your own transformation, the best thing you can do right now is to slow down (remember to breathe), meditate (remember to pray), and welcome it with open arms (full surrender here, folks). Growth is inevitable.

Faith, YogaShawn LiComment