Here’s what I’ve come to believe:
Buried deep in each of our chests is a question that our whole lives get lived around. We ask it in the way that we live, in the things that we notice (or don’t), in the feelings that get triggered in countless situations, countless times each day.
And there’s an answer we’re looking for. An answer we want desperately much to be true.
There’s also an answer we’re afraid will be true – the reverse of the answer we hope for – whose arrival we vigilantly watch for.
Not lovable, we watch for it to say.
Love doesn’t win.
There’s nothing bigger holding us.
You’re way too [silly, tender, serious, much].
You, specifically, are frustratingly flawed.
And here’s the most important thing, the thing that shoots right to the heart of trust and to the barriers that keep us constantly distanced from it:
We’re waiting to get the right answer to our question before we’ll open, deeply, to trust.
We’re waiting for the answer that will say, in effect, “Yes, Dear One. Life is worth trusting.”
I want to suggest something in response to this that’s more radical than you’ll likely hear all day. A spin-your-world-a-whole-new-direction (or at least it has mine) idea.
Which is this:
Your biggest, most fundamental, life-orienting question? You don’t have to answer it before deciding, whole-heartedly, that trust is your Way.
You don’t have to know if you’re loved or loveable.
You don’t have to know if God exists.
You don’t have to know if you’ll ever heal from that stuff that happened to you.
Or if you’ll find your true love.
Or if true love exists.
Or if you’ll ever be a parent.
Or if your dearest ones will die too soon.
Or whether you’ll have a chance to mend that core relationship.
You don’t have to know.
You don’t have to know.
Because here is how I see it.
Your alternatives are these:
1. You can live as though, in some fundamental way, all is truly well, and your task is to learn to lean into that truth ever more fully. To soften and open into the possibility that even the most awful things you’ve known, and the most awful fears you can imagine coming true, can be woven into a story of hope and healing and waking up to something GOOD.
You can watch for this process happening around you and participate, consciously, in the strength and the speed of its unfurling.
2. You can live as though you expect life in general, or your experience of it in particular, to be tragic, and orient your whole life around protecting your heart and your body and your mind from having to feel the full brunt of that.
You can work to protect others from the brunt of that, too.
You can keep walls and guards up around your heart.
You can watch for people to intentionally hurt you and each other. And for ways you’ll hurt others, too.
You can reign joy and hope and anticipation constantly in so that you won’t be so disappointed when the inevitable awfulness strikes. And try to reign in the hope and joy and anticipation of others to protect them from disappointment, too.
You can resent and be defensive around and condescending toward (and secretly jealous of) folks who are leaning into trust.
You can constrict your life tighter and tighter around your driving question and your fear that the answer you’ll ultimately get will bad. Just really, awfully bad.
But either way – regardless of what the answer to your driving question turns out to be – option one strikes me as the far more desirable alternative. The life that actually feels worth living.
And the choice to choose it not dependent on your biggest, deepest question getting answered.
So at the risk of being wrong about life’s goodness, and before any of us is sure one way or another, I say why NOT cultivate trust?
# # # # # #
We’re exploring this and MANY questions in Trust Habits this month. Doors remain open and you are warmly welcomed to join us.