The Power Of Belief

The Power Of Belief

The truth is, when you believe in something, when you believe unapologetically that you can do something, you will constantly make decisions and pursue means that fulfill those beliefs.

Ryan Fan
Ryan Fan

I have written extensively about two parables in Odyssey articles so far: the Parable of the Lost Son and the Parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee. I think about these parables all the time in terms of how I should regard, treat, and live among others. But another parable I like, that isn't quite in the Bible (and functions more as a simple story) is the Parable of the Alcoholic Father.

My perception of the parable goes like this: a violently abusive alcoholic has twin sons. One of the sons turns into a violently abusive alcoholic, just like his father. The other son turns into an abstinent, supportive father and parent, and when both sons were asked how they turned out to be who they were, they answered: "Given who my father was, how could I not?"

What's the lesson we gain from the Parable of the Alcoholic Father? It might be something as simple as the fact that we have a choice, but what is it's not like we decide overnight that we decide whether we want to be like our fathers or not. It is a lifelong choice, a gradual battle where we succeed sometimes and fail other times, and everything we do contributes to what we become. What even is a choice, and do we have them? Even though determinists in psychology often say that we don't, I've written before about how a choice, in HBO's Westworld, is how we deal with our defining life moments. A choice is how we deal with trauma, and how we deal with the things in our lives that are "too precious to lose."

But overwhelmingly, the language of the two brothers indicates that they don't, in fact, have a choice. Their destinies, as either the model of their father or the exact opposite of him, is predetermined. Both brothers share the powerful mantra of "how could I not?" However, they see the world from very different perspectives. One views his life through a lens of powerlessness, and the other views his through a similar lens of powerlessness on a different path. They both believe that they have a destiny, and that's what makes the paradox of the parable so fascinating to me.

Does having a choice mean believing you don't have a choice? Perhaps. Instead, the parable is special because it helps to illustrate a concept, and a powerful one at that: perspective is often the most powerful thing in determining who we are. The self-fulfilling prophecy, in psychology, is defined as a "prediction that causes itself, directly or indirectly, to be true." The parable shows the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy, and above all the power of belief. The most common

For the alcoholic twin, believing that he was going to be just like his alcoholic father was half battle in becoming his just like his father. For the abstinent brother, believing that he was going to be the opposite of his alcoholic father was also half the battle.

My initial impressions of the parable have changed drastically from what I think of it now - what the parable of the alcoholic father shows is the power of believing in yourself. It's quite obvious how much more difficult and challenging it is to do something when you don't believe, and I know some people who think it hubris or sheer arrogance to believe that you can do anything. But many of those same people would, instead, would buy into the words that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phillipians 4:13)

The truth is, when you believe in something, when you believe unapologetically that you can do something, you will constantly make decisions and pursue means that fulfill those beliefs. It's no secret that believing in an unconditionally loving God will make you spend more time going to church and reading scripture, nor is it a secret that believing you're a hard and tenacious worker will make you do more at work. It's no secret that believing you're a good student will make you spend more time doing homework or studying, nor is it a secret that believing you're a good person will make you more likely to treat people more kindly.

And back to the Parable of the Alcoholic Father: maybe the lesson here isn't as simple as the fact that we have a choice, but believing we have a choice, and that we are capable of executing it. And there's an added layer to the power of the parable - when you have a goal you're aiming for, ask yourself, in terms altered to your own personalized circumstances, "given everything that's happened, how could I not?"

Popular Right Now

The Truth About Young Marriage

Different doesn't mean wrong.

When I was a kid, I had an exact picture in my mind of what my life was going to look like. I was definitely not the kind of girl who would get married young, before the age of 25, at least.

And let me tell you, I was just as judgmental as that sentence sounds.

I could not wrap my head around people making life-long commitments before they even had an established life. It’s not my fault that I thought this way, because the majority opinion about young marriage in today’s society is not a supportive one. Over the years, it has become the norm to put off marriage until you have an education and an established career. Basically, this means you put off marriage until you learn how to be an adult, instead of using marriage as a foundation to launch into adulthood.

When young couples get married, people will assume that you are having a baby, and they will say that you’re throwing your life away — it’s inevitable.

It’s safe to say that my perspective changed once I signed my marriage certificate at the age of 18. Although marriage is not always easy and getting married at such a young age definitely sets you up for some extra challenges, there is something to be said about entering into marriage and adulthood at the same time.

SEE ALSO: Finding A Husband In College

Getting married young does not mean giving up your dreams. It means having someone dream your dreams with you. When you get lost along the way, and your dreams and goals seem out of reach, it’s having someone there to point you in the right direction and show you the way back. Despite what people are going to tell you, it definitely doesn’t mean that you are going to miss out on all the experiences life has to offer. It simply means that you get to share all of these great adventures with the person you love most in the world.

And trust me, there is nothing better than that. It doesn’t mean that you are already grown up, it means that you have someone to grow with.

You have someone to stick with you through anything from college classes and changing bodies to negative bank account balances.

You have someone to sit on your used furniture with and talk about what you want to do and who you want to be someday.

Then, when someday comes, you get to look back on all of that and realize what a blessing it is to watch someone grow. Even after just one year of marriage, I look back and I am incredibly proud of my husband. I’m proud of the person he has become, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished together. I can’t wait to see what the rest of our lives have in store for us.

“You can drive at 16, go to war at 18, drink at 21, and retire at 65. So who can say what age you have to be to find your one true love?" — One Tree Hill
Cover Image Credit: Sara Donnelli Photography

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Summer And Jobs

Working summers doesn't have to be tedious.


Like many other college students, I was ready for summer but was kinda bummed that I had to work. Its not that I didn't like where I was working, I actually was really lucky to be working in a hospital environment but I just hated being alone all summer from 9-5. I've had this job for a few years now and a few other paid interns came and went but I never really connected with any of them. This year is different though.

I got really lucky to have another intern work with me that was very similar to me. The tasks we got were always simple but they were made to be more fun because I got to do them while talking with someone else. Now I actually enjoy and look forward to going to work.

The key to finding a good job is finding one that you enjoy doing and one that will help you gain knowledge that will help you out with future career plans. Working with friends also make tasks enjoyable! I would be careful with working with your friend however because if your job needs you to be serious and focused, being around your best friends may distract you from that.

Another thing that definitely makes summer jobs more enjoyable are taking breaks! It is your summer vacation after all! I'm not saying don't take a day off just to sit around, but if you make plans with family and friends, take a Friday off and enjoy the warm weather and good company! Employers understand that us college students and on break and have lives, they are usually very lenient with days off!

If you have to do a summer job to make money to live off of or pay for college, the best thing to do is look at the big picture. If you don't enjoy your job but can't afford to quit, remember that the money if going to help you out a lot. Also, this job is probably only for the summer right? So it's not permanent my friend! Get through these annoying few weeks and you will be back at college, taking steps for a bigger and brighter future.

Summer jobs are tough, I know, but make the most of it! And don't forget to enjoy it whenever you can!!!


Related Content

Facebook Comments