Croskey’s Corner: Faith
This is from when we had Faith as one of our Qualities. It was processed then as Confidence so this is Bill’s essay from Faith.
As I have mentioned in this space before, one of my favorite books is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Are you unfamiliar with it? It is a children’s picture book written for adults. The author tells a story of an airplane pilot who crash lands in a desert. He meets a Little Prince who describes the many places he has visited. Before his journey began, on his home planet, the Little Prince had known a beautiful flower, a “miraculous apparition,” in his words. The flower is very proud and only able to appear in public in the full radiance of her beauty. She torments the Little Prince with her vanity. If she makes a mistake, she finds a way to put the Prince in the wrong. (Ever know anyone like her?!) He finally tells her that she is very difficult to deal with, and though he feels good will and great love for her, he has come to doubt her. After he leaves her and his planet, he realizes that his great mistake had been in taking her words at face value. He discovers that he should have taken pleasure in the great grace, a gift he did not have to earn, which is her beauty. He concludes that he ought to have evaluated her feelings for him based on her deeds, not on her selfish or even cruel words. He says, “I ought to have guessed all the affection underlying her silly pretensions. Flowers are so contradictory! But I was too young to know how to love her.”
The Little Prince decides to say Good-bye to his flower. His response is that she has been silly and that, “Of course I love you. It is my fault that you never knew.” The flower sends the Little Prince away, urging him to be happy. (Have you endured “Good-byes” such as this? I hope so, and pray for your healing if you have.)
Such agonizing ordeals call for the June Character Quality, Faith: “Confidence that actions rooted in good character will yield the best outcome, even if I cannot see how.” If there are several types of good character situations, this one might come under the category of not so much doing the right thing, but doing the Hard thing. Character First! has, in the past, pointed out that an act of Faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is the confidence that, even though I am not in control of a situation, there are known principles governing the outcome and I can feel some reassurance knowing that those principles will lead to that promised outcome.
It is my sense that the Little Prince struggled with his flower because he did not have Faith. There may be, as Character First! says, known principles at work. But they are not known to us – the people involved. Faith ought not to be blind, but it may well be ignorant. Not ignorant in a stupid sense, but in the sense of lacking the necessary information. I distinguish Faith from Trust, which is believing in an outcome I have seen proof of in the past. If I have proof, evidence, it is somewhat easy to then Trust. If I believe that governing principles will produce the right outcome, but lack evidence or reason from my experience, going ahead is a matter of Faith.
The Little Prince gave to his flower with no sign of her appreciation until their parting, with nothing coming to him in return. One who gives when there is no return is one of the Faithful. Educators! If this doesn’t remind you of a relationship you had with a tough kid in school, it reminds me. These are the kids that you give and give to. They never seem to get any better, or sometimes even to appreciate that you are trying so hard for them. They take ten times the effort needed for a regular kid, and they give back nothing to you. What keeps you going? It may be the knowledge that you are doing the right thing. It may be the practice of taking Baby Steps. It may be Hope. Yes, often there IS NO HOPE! But you are not acting blindly. You know about the existence of these governing principles: Loving someone helps the Loved one to learn to love. A gift of love goes around the corner; it may not be returned to the giver, but it is given away to a third party. The “as if” rule may apply. You act with good character. You see no results. You continue as if you DID see results. You hope you build a little momentum. If you keep acting as if your ideal were true, it may actually come about. If not, were you a fool? Heck, no! You did the right thing. Better, you did the hard thing with no positive feedback. The student benefited from your righteous actions. You may not have gotten a reward, but you “spit in his soup.” That is my friend Warren’s way of saying that the kid will never look at his soup (life) in quite the same way because you acted as if he mattered. He may turn the corner because of you. She may survive because of you. You will probably never receive the gift of knowing you had that impact. But you did.
The next time you act Faithfully, I hope you get a glimpse, at least, of the good you are doing. Somehow, the sieve that is the situation with this kid holds water. In the past, you were not lucky enough to see it. Maybe this time you will be. Seeing that your Faith was not in vain happens to you on the Last Day. Trouble is, you and I don’t know when the Last Day is until the Last Day is… here.