Thursday, November 22, 2012

Faith Like The Fishes

I’ve had a lot of time to think about things this year. Losing my job certainly freed up chunks of time and allowed for some serious reshuffling in my life, my perspectives and the very foundation on which everything I think and feel is based.

But while 2012 hasn’t been a blockbuster financial year, it has given me much for which to be grateful. So many times, I looked at my own predicament with great fear. It took all that I had to steady myself and focus on the future. It also took all that I had to let go of the anger and disgust that I have felt for my former employer. It felt as if I had trusted a longtime friend who had, inexplicably and without warning, kicked out my front teeth.

Of course, it’s far more difficult to take steps forward if you keep looking back. It takes time and a concerted effort to only look ahead. It takes faith to believe there is something for which to look forward. When my telephone started ringing with offers for new opportunities, it was as if I had been lifted by the collar and shaken by a universal force that was reminding me that my needs would be met if I could only believe things were happening right on time.

As new freelance jobs emerged just in time to pay my bills, so many times, I recalled the biblical story of the boy who helped feed a multitude of people with only five loaves of bread and two fishes. Back in January when I was told that my job was being eliminated, I wondered how I would make it? How would I survive with no income in a time when there are so few jobs – and even fewer in my field as a golf writer, where I had worked for the last 20-some years?

But just as the two fish and five loaves of bread in that story fed the masses, the opportunities continued for me. This year, there has been work with four magazines, three organizations, and 15 (so far) writing assignments in the New York Times. And then a grant opened up in August that has given me the opportunity to work with high school science students in my county to teach them about marine science.

I also enrolled in a program offered through the University of Florida to study to become a Florida Master Naturalist, which I recently completed. With that certification, along with my work as an eco-tour guide at a non-profit organization and the county’s educational grant program in the estuary, my focus has grown more in line with a new perspective about tomorrow. I can see myself transitioning into environmental writing. I can let go of the other things that I used to think were so important. I can dare to see beyond my own – and sometimes self-imposed – limitations.

Someone recently told me that, “faith is the belief that you already have what you have not yet received.” I buy into that notion. And if I have anything for which to be grateful during this Thanksgiving season and as this year comes to a close, it’s that it took a dramatic change of fortune for me to realize that the greatest gift I have is the gift of faith. With it, anything is possible. Without it, nothing is possible.

That might seem like such a “no-brainer” for many, but consider that I am a person who tends to want proof or evidence for any statement of fact. I want to see things to know them as truth. I need facts and validity. It’s just the way I am wired.

Interestingly, a new truth has emerged for me this year. It has been that as I have grown to trust that things will fall into place, they actually have. And in the weeks when I wanted and needed work, I got it. I hustled. I prayed. And it was provided.

I still don’t have a full-time job, but I do believe it will come. I have told friends that I have no reason to be so optimistic, but I feel like something good will happen and that all of this will someday make sense. Maybe that is how faith works. Maybe you have to clear out the trash in your head and heart and create an empty space to be filled by abundance.

And maybe like that child in the biblical story, faith is just as possible in mapping out a new career as it was when two fish fed 5,000 hungry people. I’m grateful I now know that if I believe strongly enough, good things will happen, but more importantly, the real blessing is the gift of faith. Without it, the paralysis of anger and the oh-so-tight grip of fear would never allow hope to reach for what lies ahead.

- Lisa D. Mickey, Nov. 22, 2012

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