I have yet to catch my stride in this new year, and after weeks, now, of feeling off-kilter, I’m finally chuckling at the fact that I continue to be caught off guard by…life. By the shiftiness of it. The movement. By how I can, repeatedly, have such clear, and what feel to me to be realistic, expectations that so clearly don’t get met. Or don’t get met in the ways I (clearly) expected them to be.
I could list so many examples, from job offers that were rescinded to schools that seemed perfect for my kids and then turned out not to be to friendships unexpectedly shifting or souring to holidays filled with hospital visits rather than play. The list goes on and on. And on. Surely your list is long, too.
My most current list item has been having way less time to work than I anticipated and the realization that the schedule I kept through 2011′s entirety isn’t one I’m capable of repeating: staying up late, getting up early, rinsing, repeating. I feel my body digging in at the thought of trying and my psyche shaking her head slowly. “Don’t do that this year. You can’t.”
Which is so disappointing from a certain point of view.
But see, I’m chuckling right now. Because this is so life. This. All of it. The longing, the disappointment, the wonder, the joy. The hurts and the heartaches. Missed expectations. The shifts where we thought we stood on solid ground.
And I’m noticing that even though I can’t be peaceful and content in all things, and even though I can’t always feel the hope or the goodness of this next thought: in ALL things, in every last one of them, there is the possibility of learning to trust.
And trust is what’s changing me in all the ways I want. Trust is what’s taking the roughest edges off my life’s game. Trust is what’s helping me recover so much faster from hurts and disappointments and punches in the gut than I ever could a year or five or twenty ago. Trust is opening me up to love, softening my cynical heart, helping me exhale more deeply and breathe in more fully and shift fear out of my driver’s seat so much more of the time.
So if trust can get grown and strengthened and fed and learned in all things… Well then.
Life? Dear shifting, untamed and untameable Life?
Bring it on!
I don’t even feel ready most of the time, but in this moment of what feels like lucidity, I say it with all my heart.
Bring it on.
Bring on the chances to learn how to trust.
P.S. I just put the image above in my shop. If you’re interested, you can find it here.
P.P.S. I’m hard at work this month on a redesign of my site. I can’t wait to show it to you, likely early next week…if Life and I aren’t dancing some other direction. :)
I’ve been tripping on a secret, over and over, for the last many years. And it’s so profound that I shake as I try to put words to it. I’m that moved.
It’s all about our egos, and how they’re like the Wizard of Oz. Only instead of a powerless guy behind the scary facade, there’s something vast and spacious. Something that feels like floating on clouds and being utterly safe and fearing nothing at all. Dropping the facade terrifies the facade itself, and that terror drives all of us to do everything in our power to keep it up at all times.
But those glimpses beyond it? Those unexpected moments when we step to the side of it and feel our whole chest open up and the knots that are ALWAYS in our guts release and that cloud of chatter and worry and questioning quiet in a strength that feels more spacious and profound than anything we could ever hope to shore up or protect? Oh dear lord. Please, give me more.
I’m thinking a lot about spirituality these days, and about life paths (whether they be spiritual, relational, vocational, etc) that have turned out so differently from how we might have wished or expected that they would. And about how hard it can be to admit to ourselves that we aren’t on that path we used to be…or expected to be…walking, but are instead on the one that we’re on. That’s such a huge move, truly, to admit where we actually are.
But then there’s the move to admit that to other people, which can be hard enough on it’s own, depending on the audience. But all the more difficult when doing so has implications for choices and commitments we’ve already made. What if you’re a pastor and you admit that your concept of God cannot be integrously molded into anything your church could warm to? What if you’re engaged and you know deep down this person isn’t who you want to marry? What if you jumped through more hoops than you can count to reach a dream – sacrificed lots and gave years of your life to the work – and you realize once you’ve reached it that the dream was actually empty, or at least is empty for you?
The Wizard of each of our Oz’s shakes. It quakes. And tries to scare us into doing WHATEVER it takes to avoid the truth that we deep down know. To avoid the awful, awkward conversations required by it. The gut-wrenching choices that’ll have to be made. The fissures in relationships and chasms that’ll surely form in some of them.
“Doom and Gloom!!” our Wizards say. “Every last bit of it!!!”
But here’s where *I* quake and with something other than fear. I quake with the force of conviction.
You are not your Wizard.
Your ego is only a mask. It’s only a scary, boisterous story. And the actions and words you know you need to do or say are only dangerous and foolish and awful in the constricting world of that story.
Outside of that story, such things are LIFE – with enormous, capital letters. They’re freedom and flight. They’re you honoring what’s deep and beautiful and true, and connecting yourself with the growth and the learning that such honoring inevitably opens for you.
There are details that will have to be tended to. There are tough decisions that will have to be made. Relationships may break or need to be arduously mended. I don’t want to belittle any of that.
But I want to say with all the spacious, potent power within me that when it comes to listening to your soul and honoring the truth you hear it whispering, being a fool in your ego’s eyes is ultimately the safest, most hopeful, life-improving, trust-inducing move you could possibly make.
I’m cheering you on, with my pom-poms out for me, too, and all the ways all of us fear feeling foolish and try, with faltering steps sometimes, to dive into LIFE anyway.
With so much love,
P.S. This song might be something you need to hear (lyrics below).
Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so called problems
Better put ‘em in quotations
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to saaaay…
Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you’d be better off instead
If you could only
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to saaay…
Have no fear
For giving in
Have no fear
For giving over
You better know that in the end
It’s better to say too much
Then never to say what you need to say again
Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open… wide…
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to
Say what you need to
Say what you need to say…
Thanks so much to all of you who filled out the survey from last time! That helps so much as I plan next steps and try to find the sweet spot of overlap between my passions/expertise and the things you’d like to see more of here (the survey will remain open for another week, so please feel free to take it if you haven’t already).
Of the 100+ folks who filled the survey out, 81% said they want to tend trust around their spiritual path – a percentage far above the rest of the options available.
And I’m thrilled and intimidated, both, by the prospect of addressing it here. I have so much to say on this topic! – a rich history of experience and study to draw from. And (this is where the intimidation arises) up-close-and-personal knowledge of the fears that lurk in its shadows and the feelings, attitudes and actions that flow from such fears. I have wounded others in response to my fears. And I have been wounded.
The arc of my story isn’t unique, however, and I’d venture to guess the wounding and woundedness I know personally are echoes of nearly all of your own.
And too the deep yearning to feed and awaken the soul (however this is defined), and the intuition…and sometimes lived experience…that something beautiful and healing and good is part of each move toward that end – no matter how cleanly you fit religious or spiritual labels or not.
Life’s deepest fears and greatest capacity to set us free to live beyond them seem, to me, to be tangled up in this topic. So it makes all sense, on a sight like this, to start talking overtly about both.
I foresee orbiting this topic here in a periodic way. And I’m guessing that some of you might like to know where I’m coming from as we start (e.g. am I religious? do I have an axe to grind?). I plan to tell my spiritual story more personally in this week’s Trust Note (see sidebar if you don’t know what Trust Notes are already), but want to say a few things here as well.
First off, wherever you are on your spiritual path, I whole-heartedly bless you. I have no interest in unraveling your spiritual tradition if you have one, and count my work in life and here at this site as a life-long exercise in learning how to love and extend compassion to myself and those around me in ways that heal and enliven and empower, rather than discourage or tear down.
I have every interest in unraveling fear, however, and in tenaciously pushing into and past it in search of what Life beyond it can be.
I actually consider this is our greatest hope as a species. Our greatest calling. And if my spiritual story has any approximation to the human one of growth and discovery, I know that pushing into fear is not a frolic in the park, and that learning to live beyond it can involve a ton of work and pain.
But so can living mindlessly with it. And the latter lacks hope of a bright and beautiful future.
I see few other places where fear lurks as deeply and grippingly as it does around spiritual things – around relationships between people whose spiritual beliefs differ, around our thoughts about death and the afterlife, around our concepts of God/the Universe and the assumptions that come with them, around what can be lost if we listen, truly, to what our hearts are asking of us.
In light of all of this, and despite my own fears of taking the plunge (what if I offend you? what if you offend me? what if I alienate people who would otherwise be nourished here?), it seems to me that a site that’s all about tending trust is an important place to explore trust in relation to spiritual things (!).
So here we go! Periodically, we’ll do just that.
I wish you well and that wherever your fears lurk most grippingly, you catch glimpses beyond them to light your way.
P.S. Those who filled out the survey overwhelmingly spoke of Trust Notes as their favorite part of what happens here, so if you’re wondering whether you want to sign up for them, I don’t think you’ll regret it if you do.
I can hardly believe it, but one year ago today, with great hope and not a little trepidation, Trust Tending began. And what a tremendous year it’s been!! I’m grateful, tired, humbled, energized (yes, tired and energized, both!), satisfied, and filled with a sense that this – my work in this space – has only just begun.
I hope Trust Tending has been even a fraction as life-giving for you as it’s been for me, and that in coming weeks and months you find the offerings here even more reflective of the places you most hope your trust can grow.
As part of today’s celebration, I wonder whether you might consider taking a short, seven-question survey to help me get a better pulse on what people are liking, wanting, or wanting more of here? I’d be so grateful if you would! To me (and really to everyone who reads here in weeks and months to come), that’d be the best birthday present ever. :)
Whether you take this survey or not, I’m so grateful for your presence here. I’m grateful for your company on this bumpy, trust-growing path, and for the wonderful challenge your presence is to me to continue on it with as much heart and…trust as I have to offer. There is so much more to come!! I cannot wait to share and experience it with you…
With all my heart,
P.S. If you’re not a survey person, I’d still love to hear from you! I’d love to know who you are and what it is you come here for. What speaks to you here? What would you like to see more of? Comments or personal emails are equally welcome!
P.P.S. For those of you who wondered where my year-end reflections went last week, the answer is no where. :) They remain in my dear head, wishing for time to get put on a page.
While I watch for that, here are my favorite posts from 2011: