Some readers may take this discipline to be religious, while others may take it to mean something else entirely. The goal is not to impart a single truth on any one person, but for you to find a single truth within yourself. We all need to realize we are part of something bigger whether you call it destiny, fate, the universe, karma, God or religion. Having faith in something larger than yourself and realizing you’re a piece to a bigger whole can give you the hope and strength to have faith in who you are. Furthermore, it gives you the opportunity to reach deep within yourself and pull out what you think it truly important. Finding purpose and reason as an individual amongst many helps you develop your personhood and this important passion or value within yourself is something you have faith in. No one can tell you what is important or what you should believe in; only you can find this truth in yourself, and once you do, pressing forward into life’s decisions ahead will not seem nearly as daunting because you can recognize what you hold as truths.
WHERE TO BEGIN
For some, finding your purpose may be simple. In fact, you might already hold a truth as your own. For others, and most people quite frankly, it is a process that develops over time, gaining clarity with each step forward. Whether you have identified your purpose is not important. What is important is your awareness of yourself and where you stand along your path. Sometimes this alone is difficult to identify because it seems you are standing in a fog and you cannot see which direction you are heading. Anxiety, stress, and apprehension cloud your vision making it impossible for you to gain any clarity or awareness. Unmanaged stress is lethal and can cause physical, mental and spiritual deterioration. (Bistricky, Tran, & Muths) Before attempting to identify passions and values, first you must manage the baggage that blurs your vision. This is more thoroughly discussed under the Counseling Discipline, but there are many stress-reduction techniques that can improve your overall wellbeing and health thus giving you the necessary clarity to begin to identify your purpose and establish faith in yourself.
Michelle Madrid-Branch is a life coach, author, speaker and global advocate for women and children. Through many avenues she has touched people throughout the world by providing motivation, faith restoration, and guidance through difficult situations and challenges to overcome life. Her work is a testimony to the impact she has made and continues to make. Check her website and explore all she offers at michellemadridbranch.com.
Trevoron Jones was a critical mentor in my life during college, and he continues to be a mentor for me even now. During my time in ROTC, he was my Operations Officer but he is currently a realtor and videographer. He has provided some insight on faith as a discipline for foster youth and all youth alike.
Australian Financial Review. (2017, February 8). The true believers; TESTING. BOSS, p. 38.
Bistricky, S. L., Tran, K. N., & Muths, L. A. H. (2016). Increasing Use and Dissemination of Stress Reduction Techniques: Trainees’ Learning, Familiarity, and Family History. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 10(2), 117–124.
Hill, P. L., Turiano, N. A., Spiro III, A., & Mroczek, D. K. (2015). Understanding Inter-Individual Variability in Purpose: Longitudinal Findings from the VA Normative Aging Study. Psychology and Aging, 30(3), 529–533.
Kashani, M., Eliasson, A., Bailey, K., & Vernalis, M. (2012). Novel Stress Reduction Technique Improves Sleep and Fatigue. The American College of Chest Physicians, 142(4), 1052A–1052B.
Manson, M. (2014, September 18). 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose. Retrieved from https://markmanson.net/life-purpose
NERIS Analytics Limited. (2011). 16Personalities. Retrieved from https://www.16personalities.com
What is Character? (2017). List of Character Traits. Retrieved from http://www.character-training.com/blog/list-of-character-traits/
Once you have addressed unmanaged stress that you had been carrying around or you feel unburdened and aware of yourself, then you can begin to identify who you are and what is important to you. A good exercise to explore your personality is to take a personality quiz. At www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test, you can take one for free. It is a little long, but if you answer honestly and try not to put any neutral answers, you might learn something about yourself! This quiz looks at how you interact with your surroundings and identifies whether you are an introvert or extrovert. This might be obvious to some of you, but this is important to consider because introverts regain energy from quiet, alone time while extroverts gain energy from socializing. Secondly, the test analyzes how you process information. This refers to whether you are a practical person who prefers stability and focus or a creative person who is open-minded and curious. Furthermore, the analysis identifies whether you make decisions logically and thoughtfully or you respond emotionally. Lastly, the way in which we approach work can be from a structured and organized plan or from improvising, spontaneity and a nonconformist attitude. (Australian Financial Review) Of these four spectrums, we all fall within a range between the two extremes. By knowing how we interact with our environment, how we see our environment and process information, how we make decisions in this environment and cope with emotions, and how we approach the decisions we make and the work we do, we can begin to identify character traits, qualities and values about ourselves.
Some of you might think a personality test is old-school, mundane, or simply a waste of your time. To begin to understand who you are and what’s important to you however, it can be helpful to know how you fit in your environment and identify with the rest of your peers. It might seem a bit overwhelming to try and identify your purpose. Another way to consider “purpose” is to identify something important that you want to spend your time on. We are all given a limited amount of time in our lives, so when we reach the end of it, what would you like to have spent your life on? (Manson, 2014) You can start by trying to identify some of the character traits listed below that resonate with you. (What is Character? 2017) The antonym of the character traits is also listed to put each into perspective.
CREATING LIGHT WHEN SURROUNDED BY DARKNESS
Faith is one of the most difficult disciplines for myself to understand and practice regarding my identity. As many might relate, moving constantly from foster home to group home makes it hard to believe in purpose amidst the chaos surrounding you. During my foster care journey, it was hard to have faith since the future seemed bleak and uncertain. With this type of thought process, however, I was denying myself the opportunity to believe I would make it out of the foster care system as a successful member of society.
As I stated above, foster youth are accustomed to people telling them what to believe. I was consistently reminded by social workers and care providers that the statistics and probabilities of foster youth were not promising, and yet I was also told to try and stay positive about the situation I was in. When individuals hear the same hopeful statement again and again but never see it come to fruition, their trust is broken. In a similar way, foster youth are told to be hopeful, but many are never reunited with their families or adopted by a foster family and instead they face aging out of the system alone, afraid and with little faith in who they are or who they’ll become. For this reason, it is important to find hope and faith in yourself aside from what others tell you to believe. At the end of day, you know your life better than anyone around you and you are the one who will determine your success or failure once you age out. Do not bury or forget the struggles you have faced because you have made it this far even with these stumbling blocks and this should encourage you to have faith in yourself. By using these struggles to encourage belief in yourself, you will develop and strengthen your faith so that when you are faced with new obstacles and issues, you will overcome them and continue to grow. Once you can truly believe in who you are, then you can begin to believe in others and relate to other forms of faith.
NEVER LOSE FAITH IN FAITH
One must understand that applying the Faith discipline can prove even more difficult than Fears & Traumas and Counseling. These three disciplines are intertwined, and unlike the other listed disciplines, you must always seek individual growth and improvement in these areas as you mature through life. Variables may make the path ahead seem daunting, but to achieve ones’ own autonomy you must conquer the stumbling blocks that stand in your way. Moving forward may seem intimidating, but know you do not have to do it alone! Support groups, mentors, and organizations are out there just to assist foster youth who are aging out of the system! There are so many people and organizations that truly believe in you and your ability to make out of the system successfully. I know it is hard at times to believe in the process, but I have spoken with people and organizations that are invested in your future and want you to have genuine faith in yourself. Reach out and join those that are fighting for you! Find encouragement in your foster family!
Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another .”