What does it mean to live an emuna-based way of life? To those who are skeptical, a life based on faith might be viewed as a lifestyle adopted by those who are looking for an excuse to not strive and sweat and work like the rest of the world to accomplish goals and contribute to society. People of deep faith in G-d may be viewed as a sort of a drop-out culture that bow out of life and simply hand everything over for G-d to do. “It’s all in G-d’s Hand’s anyway so why try to make a living, or to stand up for your rights in court, or to try to achieve anything on your own. At the end of the day, G-d’s going to do whatever He wants to do anyway.” The truth is that emuna-people do abdicate their lives to G-d, but not in the way that the emuna-skeptics think.
Emuna people set goals for themselves like everybody else, and they also strive to fulfill their goals with lots of determination. The difference between people with emuna and people without emuna is that people with emuna will postpone or even drop the pursuit of something that was important to them when they get a “message” to do so. That doesn’t mean they stop making effort, it means making an effort in a different direction. It might mean that after making a reasonable effort to open “door # 1” to no avail, you continue down the hall to “door # 2” and enter through there. It may be that after entering easily though “door # 2” that you’ll discover another hallway (that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own) that also leads you to “door # 1” that is now already open and waiting for you.
Someone may have “decided” when she was young that she wanted to have a big family, but after she was married the kids were not materializing in her life, once a year, as she implicitly demanded that they must. Her limiting belief that having 10 kids was the only way to be happy was now making her depressed because she was only blessed with five. Now in her forties, she commits herself to making herculean efforts to further fill her nest by undergoing numerous in-vitro procedures, and in the process, she depletes herself emotionally and financially and puts a huge strain on her marriage.
To the believing person - the person with emuna - it’s not conceivable that G-d would only give a person one way to be happy. Who said that a person needs children to be happy? When emuna-people start feeling themselves getting boxed in by thinking that they need a certain number of children to be happy or a certain amount of money in the bank to be happy or that they can only be happy at a certain weight or without blemishes on their legs or with a certain shaped nose – that’s when they stop striving and sweating and working like the rest of the world to get what they want no matter what.
On the contrary, when emuna-people pick up on that first split-second pang of negative emotion they take it as a signal from Above to drop down into a spiritual aikido stance and thank G-d for the chance to win another big match. With spiritual dexterity and slight-of-hand, an emuna-person turns the skeptics “losing strategies” into winning strategies with great speed and grace.
Here’s an example…
Joe says to his friend John: “You have to sue that guy…he cheated you…get a lawyer and sue him…don’t be a sucker…you’ve got to make him pay for what he did to you,” says Joe (the skeptic). But the emuna-person (John) might say, “No thanks Joe, all this is coming from G-d for my own good and I’ve got better things to do with my time than spend it with lawyers, and judges and running around courthouses. Instead of spending the next five years in litigation people like John may “take the hit” and use the opportunity to get closer to G-d by praying more, or learning more, or spending more quality time with the family. To the emuna-person there is no greater waste than wasting priceless moments of life severed from the pursuits that are closest to his heart. Emuna-skeptics might call that “bowing out of life” but we call it embracing what’s most precious in life.
All skeptics suffer from some level of fear and perhaps cowardice. It’s much easier to say “I’ve already tried everything and nothing works” than it does to say “It’s impossible that I’ve tried everything…only G-d can try everything!” When the skeptic says he’s tried everything he’s making an excuse to do nothing. Emuna-skeptics are unfortunately alienated from themselves and their life-purpose because beneath their skepticism they too have faith - everybody does - but because they lack conscious trust in G-d and His way of life, they drive themselves into health problems and money problems and rates of suicide and divorce that far exceeds that of people who spend their lives cultivating faith.
Emuna people, work hard but don’t make implicit "demands” on G-d that they succeed. They are able to accept that not all of their goals were meant to be reached. They believe that life is not just about getting the things that they once felt were essential, it’s about who they become as they pursue their goals.