A few weeks ago I wrote about the untimely death of my daughter Evelyn, and how my faith in God’s plan gave me a sense of peace and assurance despite the loss. I want to expand a bit on this theme.
Faith is not a crutch; it is a shoe. Just as using a shoe helps you travel farther and faster over rougher terrain, faith helps you move through life. It smooths over the rough parts and propels you forward, protecting you from injury and pain.
I am a shoe guy. About 5 years ago I went through a barefoot running phase. (If you don’t know anything about barefoot running, then I suggest you start with this video, or maybe this one.) Running barefoot was a fun and useful experience, because I made a lot of improvements to my running form in a short amount of time and had a good time doing it. But I rarely run barefoot these days.
Why not? Because I actually like running. When I do a lot of miles barefoot or in minimal shoes I tend to bruise my feet on the gravel in the road or the rocks on the trails, and when that happens I have to reduce mileage or even stop running for a while to let my feet recover. My worst injury was a metatarsal stress fracture that kept me from running for a whole month in 2015. That was a long month! Then I had to slowly, laboriously build up my stamina, only to injure my feet again a few weeks later.
Eventually I decided to wear shoes with padding for most of the miles I run each week, and especially on my weekend long run. That way I can cover more miles, at a faster pace, over rougher terrain, more consistently each week, with less risk of injury. All of that adds up to more running, and more fun!
Faith is like a shoe, and relying on faith is a sign of wisdom, not of weakness. Having faith makes life more enjoyable, more productive, and safer. With faith you can make it through some places in life that would be impossible to pass without it.
When I have been faced with important decisions in my education and career, times of depression and social anxiety, uncertainty, and the death of loved ones, having faith — choosing to believe — has seen me through all of these challenges. And faith has also made the good times better, by reminding me to be humble and grateful for what I have, and to treat people with kindness and compassion.
What is life like without faith, if you choose to disbelieve? Sort of like trail running without shoes on. You can do it, for a while, but you won’t get as far or go as fast, your feet will get sore and injured, and eventually you will wonder what on earth you are doing.
And life is not just any trail. There is fresh broken glass on the ground here and there. Sometimes there are miles and miles of thorns. You will find steep descents with nowhere to land your feet but on jagged rocks. And did I mention the scorpions and rattlesnakes? This is nothing like the smooth suburban asphalt I learned to run barefoot on.
And if I can extend this analogy just a bit farther, I should point out that not just any shoe will do, if your goal is injury-free running. A high-heeled women’s dress shoe will not help you cross the marathon’s finish line (or even the 5K’s, for that matter). For faith to be effective it has to be centered on Jesus Christ, because “there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 31:21).
So choose to believe in Jesus Christ and in his gospel. Believe in his power to forgive your sins and to make you stronger. Have faith in God’s plan and in the promise of the resurrection. This faith will bless your life, making you happier and more confident, and protecting you from life’s greatest dangers. Why would you try to run through life without it?