George Michael says you have to have it. Philosophers say you can't live without it. Your minister implores you to trust it.
Coming on the heels of an early Easter, this would seem to be a religious question. But it doesn't have to be. It's more of a personal one. Your ability to trust someone -- maybe even yourself -- is tied to it. Your chances at success depend on it. Most likely your happiness rides on it. But it's a tricky thing, to be sure.
The oft-quoted line about the word from Martin Luther King is: "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." I'd take that one step (pun fully intended) further. To me, faith is missing that first step occasionally only to keep coming back, and going down that staircase, knowing that one misstep doesn't ensure a future one.
That's not easy to accept. Which makes the definition of faith -- "complete trust or confidence in someone or something" easy to understand but difficult to follow. It's easy to make your way down the darkened staircase after you find the first step, but not so easy (or fun) after you stumble.
Which brings us to another quote about faith: "Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark." You hear business people and coaches using the phrase "trust the process" and what they are really saying is: Let things play out. Don't quit after the first missed shot or failed acquisition. It takes time to accomplish things, and persevering through the intermediate steps toward success may be the very epitome of faith.
It's not difficult to make the same point about religious faith. We all have bad days, but my pet peeve has always been people who aren't just unhappy today, but have already decided they won't be happy next week and possibly the weeks after that as well. If that is your process, I'd suggest you not trust it.
Obviously your daily faith is tougher to accept, more important than any business or ballgame. But the same premise applies -- don't get ahead of yourself. Don't let a rough start keep you from finishing. Like country singer Mike Reid sings in "Walk on Faith:" "The surest way to get there from here is to walk on faith, trust in love; just keep on putting one foot down in front the other."
It's a good line to keep in mind at all times, particularly the rough ones. Because life is nothing if not a process. And a little faith can only help.
Email Todd Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Wednesdays.