Thursday, June 28, 2012
Learning to Trust
Last night I started writing about trust, but got too tired before I could get any clear flow of thought going. Today the familiar tide is rising -- the sense of having anxiety oozing like slime out of my veins and into my bloodstream. Perhaps this only makes writing impossible. But perhaps it makes it all the more vital to try to do.
Seems to me that trust is a lot like writing. Writers like having written; believers like having trusted. But writing and trusting both involve things that are not always easy or pleasant. You never have any reason to trust if you are never in a position of need, vulnerability, risk, danger, or dependence. In other words, you can get by fine without trusting as long as you don't insist on living.
Trusting God, I have found, is an astoundingly beautiful thing. I think that somehow from the first that I really became aware of God's personal presence in my life, I have desired to trust Him. Trusting other people was another story. How strange of God, who longs for us with all His heart, to allow human beings including ourselves to have such a big impact on whether or not we will trust Him. He must really like us. If I were God, I may have just made a lot of nice scenery and skipped the people part altogether.
But really, the point is, we look at everything that surrounds us, the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, and we are supposed to realize that there is One who is bigger than all of it. He gives us signs, nudges, words, but all of that is simply supposed to make us go, "There's something to this that bigger than what I'm looking at, isn't there."
A big part of learning to trust, in my experience, is being willing to get into the place of being a child. That's probably the heart of why trusting can be so distasteful and so scary to so many people. It is certainly why I have at times found it confusing. We must be adult in our interactions; that is, we have to have our rationality in gear and we need to take responsibility for our actions, including our mistakes and sins. But at the same time, we need to be as simple as children. Wise as serpents and innocent as doves, Jesus put it. That requires an extremely conscious choice to be a dove, which excludes being a patsy. Too many people's experience of being a child is that patsy-dom, unfortunately. But I've learned it also doesn't work well to simply be wide-eyed and innocent. One can still end up doing regretful things that way. Jesus' way about trusting is never to just leave us exposed and vulnerable. But neither is it to be so crafty and calculating that rationality stamps out vulnerability, either. Really, what has to stand behind both our serpently rationality and our dovely vulnerability is the fact that God is Bigger. Trust. Our trust is in a person who relates to us as persons, leading, teaching, coaching, coaxing us. We can be the way Jesus tells us because we are in relationship with Him.
I'm thinking of something I prayed a couple years ago on Divine Mercy Sunday. Floodgates are open that day, you know, and during the afternoon vigil I asked the Lord for something, knowing full well that I was asking like a spiritual 2-year-old. (A 2-year-old might ask to have candy for dinner every night; that kind of thing.) The Lord doesn't always, or even all that often, answer me with words, but when He does you'd better believe I remember every one of them. After I made my request, the Lord told me, "What you really want is kept in heaven for you more assuredly than if [this thing I'd asked for were as assured as earth could offer]." What has really struck me about that every time I've thought about it is that God took my prayer very seriously, and He showed me that He understands me better than I understand myself. Because just like a little girl asking for candy all the time might be asking for more than candy (something she associates with candy, like happiness), God directed my heart to that "something bigger" that I couldn't even articulate. I've even prayed, "Lord, remember that thing that you told me that's what I really want? I'm not really sure what it is, but I know it's true. Can you move me closer to it, and closer to understanding what it is?"
There's something bigger involved here than what I'm looking at. Knowing that is the key to trust. God lifts up the simple, the humble, like Mary, whom He made the Terror of Demons! When I can be simple in God's hands, I'm on the right path. Constantly aware of God's presence, of my identity in Him, not clinging in fear or insecurity, but comfortable in His presence "like a weaned child on his mother's lap." There's a metaphor I can relate to! I can tell you a nursing child does not sit on its mother's lap without going after the goods! The weaned child has all the "goods" already, and is filled.
Remember the works of the Lord. Repeat them in your mind. Why did He do things for you if not for you to remember them? Has not God always given you everything you need? Do you for some reason think He will be different in that regard tomorrow?
Be still and trust.