When you think of the word “faith,” what comes to mind? Is it the measure of your belief in God? Or do you think of faith as a thin, mostly irrational life-line that tethers people to their ideals? I submit that faith is a critical component to effective inter-personal communication. In this week’s thought, I hope to clearly present my rationale.
Faith is an essential aspect of human psychology. You have faith. There’s no getting around it. Even if you think you don’t have faith, I respectfully suggest that you really do. Let’s take the most commonly utilized expression of faith – belief in God. Some of us use our faith in God to guide us through life. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who believe that the notion of an all-powerful creator is a primitive fairy tale. Neither side will convince the other that they are wrong, since neither can provide satisfactory empirical proof for their beliefs. Each holds to their belief with the grasp of faith.
Because we are beings of limited perceptive and cognitive powers, we use faith to bridge conceptual gaps in order to have a workable paradigm that guides our values, perceptions, and decision-making. Our thoughts and our resulting emotions and behaviors all trace back to a launching pad of faith. The main question is: In what do you place your faith? Why is your faith invested there? Here’s my current favorite question – how is your faith serving you and others?
Our mythology profoundly impacts how we invest our faith. So does the countless messaging we are exposed to. All the stories we see in films and television, read about, and hear discussed coalesce into a picture of “sensible” depositories for our faith. We might place faith in a political ideology. We may place faith in a career or an industry. We may believe that money is a great place for our faith. We may have faith in our relationships, modern science, or our sense of self. Sooner or later, these stepping stones of faith are tested. We place our full weight on that particular “faith stone.” It either supports us or it doesn’t.
In my estimation, most stepping stones eventually come up short in the end. When tested to their limits, they teeter and crumble. We let ourselves down. Relationships shift out from under us. Our heroes disappoint us. Politicians and businesses do not live up to their commitments. Prevailing scientific theories are shown to be limited. We lose our balance when these things happen.
You might be able to guess the one place where I believe the footing is solid. The reasons for my belief in God go beyond the scope of the focus of this article. The one subset of my belief in God that is pertinent here is this: I believe that we are here for a reason. That particular building block has profound implications for our lives and thus our inter-personal communications.
It is a “faith stone” because I can’t prove it to be true. But there is some evidence to consider. For instance, how do you feel when you’re focused, purposeful, and feeling like you matter in the world? Pretty good, right? How about the other side of the spectrum? How do you feel when you lack clarity, focus, and feel that the things you do don’t matter or aren’t appreciated by others? I suspect that those feelings are feedback mechanisms designed to coax us closer to our personal purposes.
Ultimately, our faith infuses our desires and aims. These in turn shape our personal agendas. These agendas form the subtext of our inter-personal communications. The subtext of our inter-personal communications forms the impressions that others have of us, because we continually drive conversations in this direction. The impressions formed by this focus determine their reactions and ultimately their attitudes toward us.
If our focus is solely upon ourselves, and we continually drive every conversation back to us, what do people tend to think about us? (You wouldn’t know anyone like that, would you?) Some people are so clear about their purpose that they become a one-note song. We must always remember that our purpose only has meaning in the context of how it affects other people. Another “faith stone?” Yes, but one that has, in my experience, yet to wobble underfoot.