Perhaps because of the wonderful availability of GPS systems that can guide us to almost any destination, even give us options of routes that allow us to avoid road construction or tolls, we may fall into believing that no matter the course of our life journey, we will have access to easy and reliable guidance to get us there. We could not be more mistaken.
For while there are multiple guideposts for life passages like marriage and divorce, birth and death, career changes and new home purchases, we ultimately will be facing decisions where the guideposts conflict, where the way ahead stubbornly refuses to open before us, where we are thrown back on our own resources as well-meaning friends say in response to our questions about what to do, “oh, you’ll know what’s best. You can feel it when you’ve made the right decision.” My experience suggests otherwise: I have made painfully wrong choices that had felt so right, and I have often been forced to step forward without even the slightest clue about where I was going. We reach places in our lives when whatever emotional and spiritual GPS systems we have relied on stop working.
And then what? I cannot simply stand at an intersection forever, searching all around for some magical sign to point the way, searching through my inner signposts for something to tell me how to proceed. This becomes a moment when faith takes over—not faith as sometimes mistakenly understood as a set of beliefs or ideas, but faith as a kind of radical trust, trust in oneself to have the resilience to deal with whatever comes, trust in the universe or God or a sacred surrounding mystery to support us and enable us to journey towards wholeness.
Once faith becomes a GPS system, directions and clear paths do not magically appear, nor does easy confirmation that one is on the right course show up. A faith-guided journey has no shortages of challenges and setbacks, detours and dead ends, all of which require us alternately to start over, change directions, travel switchbacks that seem to send us in wide curves with little forward progress. But the satisfactions that are possible in such a journey, in learning to rely on faith for directions and choices, draw us ever more deeply into open-hearted living and loving. And we can anticipate seeing some surprising scenery along the way.