In his song “God”, John Lennon goes through a long list of things
he doesn’t believe in, and then ends by saying “I just believe in
As I have searched to clarify and define what I believe in, I find
that what matters most to me is not what I believe in, but who, or
what believes in me.
As I have read and listened to the essays from the This I Believe
series, I have been encouraged, humbled, sobered and have felt it a
privilege to enter into a stranger’s passions, possibilities or
perhaps deepest fears. I have been a somber and attentive witness
as earnest writers have grappled with life’s disappointments and
immensities – and tedium, as they have attempted to craft a
lifetime’s purposes and experiences into a coherent statement.
I have attempted it as well, but what I find even more searing, is
not what I believe in, but what it has done to me to have someone
believe in me. Their presence – or absence – hangs over, seeps into
and pervades my life like the dark matter that holds the universe together and does not show itself,
but fills and upholds every molecule of my being.
When I feel that someone, anyone, believes in me, I feel filled,
empowered, nearly infinite. When I find myself swirling in
discouragement and frustration, it might take me months to realize
what is missing. It is my invisible muse – that one person, close
by or thousands of miles away, who believes in me.
They will probably never know their effect on me – either for
positive or negative, but my heart soars – or stagnates – as I find
myself in someone else’s lingering thoughts and prayers.
There is a strange momentum at work here. When someone believes in
me, I affirm their belief. They, and I, are amazed at what I can do.
The opposite is also true, when I find myself without anyone who believes in me on my social horizon, I find my self literally discouraged – my courage is tangibly sucked out of me. I can barely maintain my basic survival, let alone create in a way that surpasses my, or anyone else’s, expectations.
Yes, I believe in me, and I can slog through disappointments, betrayals and seemingly eternal stretches of abandonment and isolation. I can survive, perhaps even prevail. But I need someone, anyone, else to see in me more than I can see with my own eyes, to be with me as I step into, or even beyond, my inevitable destiny.
I can believe in community, progress, hope or a cause larger than myself, but I know that, most of all, I just need one person who believes in me.
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