In Faith We Trust

I start writing this with the topic of trust on my mind.  But, even as I'm typing, I say to myself, "or is it faith about which I'm thinking?" And then I'm having this internal discussion about what the difference between the two are.  So, with only three sentences written, I've already gone off track.

I think the difference is that you can have faith in something - that it exists - but not trust it.  For example, if you believe in God, you may truly know that his existence is fact and that he will take care of you when you need it.  But even with that indelible faith, when you hit hard times, you don't trust that he's going to help.

Similarly, we have faith in the reality of true love, but lack the trust to believe it will happen to us or that we can maintain it.  We have faith that we are meant for greater things, but an insecurity in our capability to achieve it. And we know that if we open ourselves up to others, we'll experience a fuller life, but we don't always have the strength of trust to share our inner selves.

Why? How? It really seems like a weird trick of the brain to be able to both know something completely and at the same time imagine that it's true for everyone else but ourselves.  We've all told someone "Have faith.  It's going to be fine.", when, in fact, if we were in their shoes, we'd be scared shitless. I expect we tell people these things as a way to reinforce what we want to have faith in ourselves. But if we have to constantly reinforce faith in ourselves and others, do we really have it?  Or are we maybe just hoping that by seeing our advice and faiths help another, we'll be able to build trust in our beliefs?

We can see signs of lack of trust in all aspects of our human interaction.  Our lives are full of moments where we just go through the motions in some capacity - like giving the obligatory, "I'm fine thanks, and you?" when asked how we're doing, or saying "no problem" when it really was.  I'm not recommending that we lay guilt trips on people when we do them a favor, but we shouldn't try to convince ourselves that we're not allowed to have a crappy experience while helping others.  Instead of "no problem", we could say "it was a pain in my ass, but I was more than happy to do it for you."  It's the truth, and shouldn't we be touched that someone chose to do something for us, even though it had been annoying, rather than ruin the whole moment by feeling bad that it hadn't been easy?

Why is it that we're so distrusting?  Why do we long to say what we really feel and for others to do the same, but get hurt when someone tells us, "Yes, that does make you look fat."?  Because the person we really are upset by is us.  We know we're fat, or not taking full advantage of our talents, or acting in a selfish way - it's not someone else's fault for caring about us enough to tell us the truth.  And part of why we get hurt is because we feel paralyzed to return that truth.  "Call me fat, will you?  If she knew all the times I resisted telling her how bad she looked....She ought to have the manners to do the same. Bitch."  Right?  Wrong. If we can't say those things to one another, we shouldn't call each other "friends". We should be like "Earth Colleagues" or "Carbon-based Peers" or something like that instead.

And let me make it perfectly clear - I am a frequent and horrible offender when it comes to going against everything I've just said. I have faith that it's the right way to look at the world, but I don't have the trust to adhere to it in my own life.  20% of the time, I don't have the trust to realize that if someone gets offended by something I say without malice, that it's their problem, not mine.  And I don't have the trust to open up and tell someone the real truth when they ask how I am, because I don't believe that they'll be compassionate or respect my privacy - even though I have faith that it's stupid to go through the motions of "How are you?", "I'm fine, how are you?" if we don't really care.  And, I can't say I wouldn't instinctively feel a bit guilty if someone told me that they'd had difficulty doing a favor for me or if I told them their hair made them look like Phil Spector on a bad day.  Some things just feel hurtful, even if you're simply providing an accurate description of what you see.

But, I do know this. The only moments in my life that I've ever felt real joy were those moments in which I was exactly who I was, and said exactly what was on my mind.  It's like experiencing life inside of a powerful and epic movie, where love feels passionate and utopian, and laughter is so infectious you cry.  It's when I've laid down the layers of protection and the vapidness of canned responses that I've experienced what life is supposed to be about. Not money or power or religion or piousness or rebellion, but connections between us - me and you, and him and her.  And that cat over there - we can build connections with all kinds of souls in this life.

But, if that sounds good (and it is) and that's how we want to experience our lives, we've got to have trust in it, not just faith.  Nothing in the world is perfect, and we'll never build an ideal society, but if we can start trusting each other a little more, I think that we can forge relationships, and unions and sparks of truth all around us.  Real friendships. We need to be able to smile and say hello to one another on the streets, without being seen as lunatics, because we never know when a chance meeting will become life-changing.  And we need to realize that just because once in awhile there might be an actual lunatic on the street, we shouldn't assume everyone is.  I'll admit, my own first instinctual thought on the subject is, "I don't want to attract the attention of the lunatic - and smiling and waving would definitely do that."  But, if I'm so concerned about the lunatic being on the street, why do I not call someone to help him, or try to talk to him to see what's the matter?  Is it more appropriate to just ignore him and walk by?  I guess part of me would say this too, "If I tried to help this guy and he turned on me, I don't trust that anyone on the street witnessing it would jump in to help me."   But, by saying that, I am stating that I have the capability to wisely pick and choose each individual that is supposed to be in my life, and pre-orchestrating how the interaction must go -- both of which are impossible and might actually prevent me from making some great stride in my journey.

Lack of trust begets lack of trust and in the process we lose our responsibility to be responsible - for what our world is like.  We get hurt and we tell ourselves, "That won't happen to me again.", and a little more trust is lost.  Then, because as humans we need closeness with others, we try again and get hurt again.  And a little more trust is lost. But, in allowing our trust to be eroded, we fail to see that we have all the power in terms of how we choose to handle hurt. Great openness to the world can result in great hurt, but also great joy. To close ourselves off is to guarantee a life of mediocrity.  So, the only way to start again is by trusting.  One more time.  Five more times. Every time.  Never allowing ourselves to become just one more of the hurt, tattered souls we see around us, but instead a beacon to our communities, neighborhoods, towns, cities, country.  It always starts small, but many small starts become a movement.

I spent most of my life without the strength to be open and trusting.  Always afraid that I'd be judged and that I wouldn't know what to do in response.  My life would have been a thousand times happier if I had chosen the opposite, and braver, response.  Maybe not easier, but happier.  Because the bad times would have been better balanced by good times whose beauty would have far eclipsed them.

Being trusting, and offering someone else true, unselfish trust in return is hard and it can hurt. But, it can be the most rewarding thing we'll ever do. Every time it works out well, we'll want to give more and so will those around us.  I still have weak moments, where the desire to protect myself overrides my ability to trust, but when someone, yet again, proves that I can depend on them, and coaxes me back out of that fear, I know that I am on the right path.  Nothing feels better than that connection and I am determined to continue to open myself up to deeper and stronger relationships.  And in that faith, I trust.


  1. After writing what seemed like a very long and self - exposing response to your wonderful essay, I realized that I did not hit the right buttons or some such nonsense and my musings went flying off into cyberspace, never to be found again. Hence, I am trusting that I can comment again and not screw it up this time, but for some reason I am infinitely more scared to reveal my thoughts on this that the first time around. Your post brought up so many great points, and I am so thankful to have found you on Facebook after all these years, and that I get a chance to read your work! I am also currently reading a book by Brene Brown titled Daring Greatly. In it she speaks a lot about vulnerability and shame and how these two emotions are connected and wanting to avoid them can keep us from living our lives with a full and whole heart. I so relate. I have spent most of my life trying to avoid being vulnerable with people, and unknowingly, not being able to practice trust and develop the kind of relationships that nurture and grow my spirit. Thankfully, I am so much more aware today of this fact than I have ever been and so I do and have and know that I will continue to experience moments where I am truly and authentically myself. Fear of not being enough, fear of not being able to handle rejection, fear of falling apart if I am vulnerable and trust and make a mistake are all really just boogey men. The only way to learn is to make mistakes and feel hurt and then move on; and like you said, because we all crave connection, we move on or we die. Maybe not a literal death, but certainly a spiritual or emotional one. And society isn't really down for trusting or being authentic, vulnerable honest. Everywhere I look, I feel bombarded with the idea that I have to get mine, and that there is never enough. So one way I try to work against this idea is that I write a list every day of what I am grateful for, and I tune in to the bounty in my life, and remind myself that I have nothing to lose by trusting and being vulnerable. And that is why I re-wrote my comment even though I was scared that it would sound stupid or that you don't really want to hear what I have to say. Hope you write something else soon!! I can't wait to read it.

  2. Hey Laura! I'll have to check out that book - sounds great. We sound like we're traveling a similar road in trying to navigate life - which is probably why we connected so quickly years ago. PS - I always want to hear what you have to say -which you say so eloquently. XOXO - Jason


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