This week’s theme at Trust Tending is “I believe”, and I couldn’t think of better kindreds to join us for it than Steve and Amanda Soule. Amanda is the creative force behind SouleMama, a blog devoted to noticing the beauty and goodness in her every day. Steve writes there too, from time to time, and does so beautifully.
Amanda and Steve live with their five children on an old farmstead in Western Maine. They keep bees, raise chickens, turkeys, and pigs, tend enormous gardens, and tap their trees for syrup. Their kids are un-schooled, and in between all of the above, Amanda knits, sews, cooks, and cans like crazy, and, with Steve, writes best-selling books:
Their latest print project is a wonderful quarterly magazine called Taproot, which is “a collection of curated stories written by and for people living fully and digging deeper; people who are interested in deepening their connections to their families, communities, and themselves as they strive to live locally and closer to the ground.”
I’m incredibly moved by the lives that Amanda and Steve are living. Their list of accomplishments is impressive, but that’s not what moves me most.
What moves me most is the ways they’ve taken action, again and again, year after year, on the things they believe. And more than that, I’m moved by the ways their “I believes” have become powerful forces of change and of trust-nourishment in our world not by means of speeches, bullet-point lists, or sermons, but by their embodiment of a way of life. Their lives are their testimony.
If you haven’t or don’t already, spend some time at SouleMama.com. Get a sense for the gentle, clear force that is Amanda sharing about the beauty of her days. And if you’re so moved, begin to imagine what might happen if you took small steps week after week, year after year, to fully embody the things you believe. Imagine what gifts that might offer us all, whether words are involved or not.
My life’s calling and the work I do at this site are rooted in these 8 beliefs. I offer them with the heart-felt wish that they catalyze much in the broader conversation on fear and trust. If they move/challenge/ruffle/inspire you, please pass them on!
1. I believe fear is the root of every problem we create.
Fear disconnects us from compassion and clouds clear thought. It compels us to run, fight, or go limp in the face of perceived threats, and display all the subtler versions of these things (drivenness to do or to fix, compulsive rumination, savior complexes, stunting co-dependency, inability to commit, jealousy, suspicion, defensiveness, clinging, isolation, despair).
Name a human-made problem, and fear is at its root.
2. I believe aggressive attempts to get rid of fear only increase its power.
Fear, at heart, is not a monster. It’s a vulnerable child. So while metaphors that “slay” or “tame” or “control” or “whip it into submission” may silence its overt displays, they cannot transform it into true security or peace. In fact, when overt displays of fear are silenced, its subtler, less conscious forms are forced to surface (e.g. anger, irritability, compulsions, physical illness), wreaking just as much havoc, and in many cases, more than overt fear itself.
You can’t scare the hell out of anyone. You can only scare it into them.
3. I believe trust is the antidote to fear’s effects.
Trust is the opposite of fear, and has its inverse effects. Where fear separates, trust brings together. Where fear blurs and enmeshes, trust clarifies and untangles. Where fear disconnects us from compassion, trust ignites and re-engages us with it.
Fear hardens, breaks, tightens, and embrittles.
Trust softens, strengthens, emboldens, e x p a n d s.
Trust is not blind reliance on everyone or everything, but rather a posture toward people and life that assumes good can come from, and may be infused in, all things. It assumes that life is a benevolent and mysterious teacher, and that there isn’t a person, a circumstance, or even death itself that can diminish the goodness available to us when we open to it.
4. I believe trust-tending is a choice.
No matter the cards we’ve been dealt, no matter the personality, wounds or life experiences we carry, we are not destined to a fearful, hopeless, or even agnostic story. We can’t know definitively whether life is worth trusting, but we can consciously turn our bodies, minds, and spirits toward the possibility of life’s deep goodness and move, with large or small and faltering steps, in that direction.
Trust-tending itself is not an obligation, nor is it a “should”. But those who choose it as a practice walk lives rich in hope, joy, wonder, and increasing peace.
5. I believe trust can be powerfully cultivated by small steps over time.
Though nourished by daily choices, trust is not best grown by force of will. (See #2 above. Bullying our fears into trusting is oxymoronic.)
Instead, trust is best tended like a garden. Start cultivating anywhere (in a relationship, a hobby, a vocational pursuit) and watch, with time, the wonders that ensue.
Like towering trees that started out as seeds, trust grows.
6. I believe trust and fear can coexist.
Though trust is fear’s opposite (and feels really good in isolation), the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Human hearts (and egos…) are complex, and capable of holding both simultaneously. Our bodies are, too.
Our challenge is to act from our trust, rather than our fear – to consciously put trust in our driver’s seat, again and again and again (and again). The more we do this, the more it happens instinctually as fears arise.
7. I believe tipping points can happen, where trust increases exponentially.
As with those who meditate or do yoga, those who cultivate trust can experience huge spurts of growth, where fear-based patterns and beliefs seem to fall away and open out into new vistas of trust. These are periods where the slog-slog-slogness more typical of the practice bursts into “A-has!” and the feeling of getting downloads from the universe.
These aren’t the norm and even those who experience them experience far more periods of incremental growth, over time. But they do happen.
8. I believe trust is contagious.
When you tend trust, you’re never alone. The seeds of trust you personally tend (in your thoughts, your writings, your work, your relationships, your lifestyle, in what you create) affect everyone: your partner, your kids, your friends, your colleagues, policy-makers, the bagger at the grocery. They create powerful ripples that make tangible differences in the world we’re all creating.
On the flip side, when your trust wavers and your fears loom large, spending time in the presence of those whose trust runs deep is a powerful form of self AND world care.
In the presence of trust, we are like flowers, opening toward sun.
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What do you believe about trust? What has been your experience with it? Which of these points resonates for you and which feels most challenging? I’d truly love to know!
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