Fierce-Hearted Faith There I was, standing in the pouring rain, and descending the last hill of my 800km solo trek across Spain. I had 8 kilometers to go.

 

And my heart was bursting full.

 

I felt clear and confident, with a calm and exuberant joy flying through my veins. The deepest parts of me were shouting, “You’re enough Christa – just the way you are!”

 

And to be honest, those were words I didn’t hear very often. I have a well-worn way of silencing any syllable that affirms my truest identity.

 

But, in those moments, I chose to have faith that this was the voice of God.

 

And it was easy.

 

Having faith when you’re flying high on life is not difficult, but a delight.

 

Do you know what I mean?

 

Regardless of the object of your faith, or the religious tradition (or not) you identify with, having full faith in something is simple when life seems to be going your way.

 

Faith your marriage will last when your spouse is responding to your needs.

Faith your children will do well in school when the report card is strong.

Faith your friend will beat that cancer when the prognosis is good.

Faith that God is on your side when everything seems to be going well.

 

But what about when life takes a turn?

Your spouse is shutting down, your children are flunking out, those test results are devastating, and God seems eerily silent.

 

Then, faith is a fight, and it’s not for the faint at heart.

 

It’s for the one who is willing to dance with doubt and not climb out of the pit with simple certainties.

It’s for the woman who will wrestle with questions and confusion, and not release her grip on hope.

It’s for those of us who will wait with longing dripping from our hearts for better days to come.

 

I’ve been there.

My full heart from my time in Spain lasted a few months, and before I knew it, I was being invited into a new season. Darker, quieter, and painful.

 

God had left the building – or so it seemed.

Insecurity, fear and depression were the clothes I wore and they hung like heavy cement that I couldn’t shake off.

 

Instead of joy and confidence flowing freely, questions would swirl in my head like a madman set on causing a scene. I felt confused, anxious and worn out.

 

But, as best as I could, I held onto a pebble of hope. I took the tiny thread of faith and chose to believe that someday, “this too shall pass”, and someday, new clarity and peace would be mine.

 

Some days, I would choose to pray, when I didn’t feel like anyone was listening.

I would choose to believe that what I experienced on that Spanish mountain was not just some illusion of my imagination.

I would choose to trust that I wouldn’t always feel like this. I would choose to believe that change is the most predictable thing there is, and one day I would be in a different place.

And, some days, I wouldn’t choose to have faith at all. The madman would run amuck and I was stuck in a quicksand that wouldn’t let me go.

 

That’s how it works. Faith is always a choice.

 

It’s a choice to live with doubt and not certainty. So many people think that faith is the absence of doubt, but that’s not true.

 

You cannot have faith without doubt.

The only thing that erases faith completely is complete certainty.

Faith is walking with questions, reservations, hesitation and suspicion.

 

And this is why it is for the fierce-hearted!

 

Faith has a way of companioning us into new realities. It carries us like a mother carries a child. Through the murkier seasons of life, when we have lost our will and the way seems dark, the faith we choose to have (however small), helps us down the path.

 

I’m now in a different place. I still have unanswered questions, and that madman occasionally comes knocking at my door, but my choice to have faith made all the difference.

 

Fierce-hearted faith is one of the most powerful forces around and I think we need more of it in this world.

 

We need more people choosing to believe in things they can’t see.

More people willing to step out into unknown places, risking the comfort that comes from staying put.

More women daring themselves to walk in the dark, trusting their path is being led to better days.

 

Yes, if more of us were fuelled by fierce-hearted faith, imagine the mountains in our lives that could be moved.

 

backpack, hiker, womanChrista Hesselink  (@chesselink)has walked on the Camino de Santiago twice, travelling over 1200km solo across Spain. She is the author of , Life’s Great Dare: Risking it all for the Abundant Life, which was released in March 2016. 100% of the proceeds from sales of her book go to the Love2Love project, totally 37,000.00 in it’s first year. Click the link above to purchase.

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Lit List: 12 Books to Celebrate ‘Canada 150’ There is nothing quite as juicy as a really good list of books, especially when it is from someone you know has impeccable taste.  Every month we’ll feature a Lit List by someone inspiring who loves books as much as I do.

Between her demanding editing schedule, traveling and being nominated for the prestigious 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur award, Editor and Literary Agent, Faith Farthing of Edmonton, Alberta was nice enough to share a dozen of her all-time favourite books by Canadian authors. Some classics you’ll recognize, a few you may need to scour the used book store for, and, one I’m confident you won’t see on any other list (and, I’m so glad she recommended).

Fun fact: In true Canadian form 6 of the 12 books were written by immigrants to Canada. See if you know which ones.

“My favourite books usually inspire me to travel or change my thinking about something, laugh or sob out loud, stand in another’s unfillable shoes, temporarily escape my insanity, or visit my deep, dark side.”  -Faith Farthing

 

A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry

Set in “an unidentified city” in India, initially in 1975 and later in 1984 during the turmoil of The Emergency.The book concerns four characters from varied backgrounds – Dina Dalal, Ishvar Darji, his nephew Omprakash Darji and the young student Maneck Kohlah – who come together and develop a bond.

This book won Mistry the Giller Prize in 1995, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction, the 1996 Commonwealth Writers Prize and was shortlisted for the 1996 Man Booker. But, it became a household name when it was selected for Oprah’s Book Club in 2001 In 2005,  Source

 

 

The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt

If you’re looking for a book with awards-cred, The Sisters Brothers is a solid bet.  It won the Governor General’s Award for English language fiction in 2011, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and  the 2012 Stephen Leacock Award, On top of the wins, it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the 2012 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. NBD. The Sisters Brothers “is a genre bending Western about two sensitive cowboy brothers: the hit men Eli and Charlie Sisters. During the Gold Rush of the 1800s, they travel on horseback from Colorado to California on a mission to kill a prospector.” Source

 

The Stone Angel,Margaret Laurence

Published in 1964 when Laurence was 38, The Stone Angel is consistently listed as one of the greatest Canadian novels ever written. Hagar Shipley at 90 is a proud, powerful, tyrannical woman suffering the indignities of old age. She relives her life by narrating memories as she battles to come to terms with herself before she dies.. Hagar’s character and voice are justly praised as Laurence’s most inspired creations. Many readers find Hagar to be a rich fictional composite of actual women’s lives in small towns on the Prairies. Source

 

 

The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King

Richard Wagamese in The Globe and Mail called The Inconvenient Indian, winner of the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize, “essential reading for everyone who cares about Canada and who seeks to understand native people, their issues and their dreams. We come to understand that Indians are inconvenient because, despite everything, we have not disappeared.

Thomas King is beyond being a great writer and storyteller, a lauded academic and educator. He is a towering intellectual. For native people in Canada, he is our Twain; wise, hilarious, incorrigible, with a keen eye for the inconsistencies that make us and our society flawed, enigmatic, but ultimately powerful symbols of freedom.” Source

 

 

419, Will Ferguson

Over the last decade, Will Ferguson has made the seemingly effortless transition from successful humorist and travel writer to successful comic novelist. 419 follows a Canadian editor from her comfortable life in Calgary to neo-liberalism’s lawless frontiers in the oil- and blood-drenched streets and backwaters of Nigeria. Source

 

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make aBig Difference, Malcolm Gladwell

Is there anyone left who hasn’t read at least one of Gladwell’s books? The Tipping Point became an international sensation, selling 1.7 million copies (not bad for a first time author) and, made us look at Hush Puppies in a whole new way. It also gave us some new terms for the lexicon – e.g. The Law of The Few, Power of Context. His breezy intellectual theorizing inspired a new genre of books like his, and placed him on Time’s 100 Most Powerful People list, multiple times.

 

Happenstance, Carol Shields

The first of two Carol Shields appearances on this list. These two unique novels tell the stories of Jack and Brenda Bowman during a rare time apart in their long marriage. In The Husband’s Story Jack is at home coping with domestic crises and two uncouth adolescents while immobilized by self-doubt and questioning his worth as a historian. In The Wife’s Story, Brenda, traveling alone for the first time, is in a strange city grappling with an array of emotions and toying with the idea of an affair. (BTW, Shields published her first novel (while raising 3 kids) Small Ceremonies , at 40.) Source

 

Larry’s Party, Carol Shields

The highly acclaimed novel Larry’s Party, is an exploration of the sensibility of an ordinary man in the last years of the millennium that traces the life of Larry, a florist-turned-maze-designer. Not for nothing, it won the Orange Prize (1998), and Le Prix de Lire (France, 1998), was short-listed for the Giller Prize (1997), and was in 2001 adapted by Richard Ouzounian and composer Marek Norman as a musical play. The beloved author and professor died in 2003. Source

 

Room, Emma Donoghue

No doubt you’ve heard of Room the book and/or the movie which won a bushel of awards (side note: Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson are amazing), and was nominated for dozens more, including Donoghue for Best Adapted Screenplay. Written by the uber-talented, brilliant and unstoppable Emma Donaghue when she was 41, Room is one of those books that shakes you up and you can’t put down. On top of the literary acclaim (shortlisted for Man Booker, Governor Generals Award, etc), it was recently was adapted for the stage and performed at Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland.

Half-breed, Maria Campbell

Maria Campbell’s journey of self-discovery is traced in Half-breed (1973), a moving account of a woman who struggled with poverty, alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual abuse and prostitution to reach thirty-three years of age and begin her healing process. Campbell tells her story in the context of Métis culture and a forgotten history. She brings in myth and creates a distinctive voice for a people ignored by mainstream society. This book has been used as a texts in countless university and college courses across North America and translated in Europe. Source

 

The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill

Something you may not know about Lawrence Hill’s gripping novel is that you can’t find it south of the border. At least not by that title. The name was changed to a more palatable ‘Someone Knows My Name’ for US readers. Either way, Hill’s novel received well deserved rave reviews, from both sides of the border (New York Times, Oprah) and beyond. The 8-part mini-series was also critically acclaimed.

 

The Survivors Speak:A Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

It might be an unusual entry for favourite books list, but, it’s definitely one of the most important. On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an apology to the former students of Canadians Indian residential school system, calling it a ‘sad chapter in our history’.

Soon after, his government set out to do what was long overdue to help forge a new relationship between Canada’s indigenous peoples and other Canadians—to record the survivors’ stories and encourage Canadians to attend to these voices that had been ignored for far too long. The Survivors Speak was released in 2015.

I loved that these powerful voices were transcribed and shared in their raw, unedited form.

Editors note: You can download the Report for free here, or find it on Amazon.

 

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