As I listen to my life and to the Spirit, I almost always hear these invitations:
A full, free, and flourishing life hinges, first and finally, on trust.
Erik Erikson said that, in the earliest stage of life, our experiences bend us toward trust or mistrust as our basic orientation to self, others, and the world. We ask, before we know we are, if there is and will be enough of what we need, both nourishment or the body and nurture for the spirit. Are there, will there be, shelters from the cold and havens from the storms? Is there, will there be, acceptance and affirmation for us? Are we being, can we be, held, cherished, and blessed? Is it, can it be, a good and glad thing that we are alive and take-up space on the earth?
For myriad reasons, some of us are inclined more to mistrust than to trust. We have what Carlyle Marney called “busted trusters.” As a result, we’re restless, anxious, and unsettled a lot of the time. We scramble to be sure there’s enough, even when it’s actually true that we already have more than we need. We have a hard time accepting acceptance even when it is generously offered to us, because we fear it could be withdrawn at any moment. We discount affirmation when we receive it, because we’re sure that if they really knew us, they’d turn away from us. We feel and fear we have to make in on our own. We doubt that there is even provisional protection or temporary shelter. And, it’s almost impossible for our hearts (not our minds) to fathom what providence might mean.
In my sixth decade, I’m still learning how to accept this first invitation. Trust has never been easy for me; faith hasn’t been simple. Independence has made more visceral sense to me that dependence or interdependence. I haven’t let myself count on there being help when I needed it. I’m been much better at working and earning than resting and receiving. I haven’t often experienced security; instead, I identify with college football coaches who feel that their jobs are on the line every weekend: win again or pack in in and hit the road.
Thankfully, I’ve had–still have—teachers, guides, and healers who repair and restore my busted truster. Friends and family who haven’t left the room even when I’ve made a mess of things and shown them the door, who’ve listened to my fears without trivializing them, and who’ve opened their arms and hearts even when I insisted I had to go it alone.
Surviving two seasons of clinical depression wouldn’t have been possible without people who stood at the mouth of the cave, holding a light and encouraging me to come out.
Having the opportunity and responsibility to bear witness to faith, even when I found it hard to come by, kept me within hearing distance of its possibility.
And, then, there’s cancer—Multiple Myeolma, which I’ve nicknamed “Frank.” Since Frank pushed his way into my life and set stern terms for our relationship, I’ve been more vulnerable and less in control than any time since childhood. Such helplessness is a gift, because it offers me remedial lessons in basic trust. I get to learn more fully now what I learned only partially when I was younger. Regularly, I have to entrust myself into others’ hands.
Today, I begin chemotherapy again: two oral medications and one infused. The initial infusion is likely to produced complicated side-effects, and the combined drugs will, almost certainly, deepen my fatigue. I roll up my sleeve and surrender to needles that will carry drugs with unpronounceable names, much less, to me, understandable chemistry. I swallow pills and capsules that will make me feel sicker as they work to improve my health. I follow orders from caregivers who know more than I can ever know. It’s all an exercise in trust.
It’s odd to say, I know, but cancer has become for me a means of grace. It is not, itself, grace, but it is a channel through which renewal and restoration come to me. More than ever, in the kind of saving paradox which exists only with a God who brings death out of life, I am freed to risk trust that, when I fall, hands of mercy wait to catch me, that “nothing in all creation separates us from Love” and that, somehow and some-when, all shall be well.”
Your insights and your amazing gift with words allow you to communicate things which others feel but are without ability to voice. Thank you for sharing this hard journey with us. Praying for your strength and courage and the knowledge of God’s presence as you continue.
Thank you, Frieda, especially for your prayers.
Bless you Guy. I am rating that our Lord will walk with you through this season and restore your health.
Thank you so much, Dave.
God Bless you, Guy, as you courageously walk this road and choose to let us walk with you witnessing your courage as if it were our own. We walk in prayer and gratitude. Thank you for these gifts!
Thank you for being in touch and for your willingness to walk with me!
Grateful for you. Praying for discernment and guidance!
Thanks, Randy. I am grateful for you, too.
Praying that you continue to find grace,love, peace, joy, and mercy each step of your journey
Thank you, Carolyn, very much.
Guy, I am so moved and blessed by your words and all that lay behind them. Thanks you for sharing so honestly and so clearly truths that force me to ponder anew. I cannot express enough my deep gratitude for your witness on these pages. Blessing to you in these days.
Scott, your note means so very much to me. Thank you. I’m glad if some of the things I write ring true to your experience and offer help. Blessings to you, too. Grace and peace, Guy
Guy, thank you for these words. Since leaving the church, I’ve stripped away many unnecessary components of religion which make the world a less trustworthy place. Yet, I continue to center my life around the values you speak about in this post. Your messages are a gift to all who are traveling different journeys today and dealing with their own assortments of pain. I no longer hold to magical ideas about prayer, but do believe in saying words of kindness to friends who are struggling with the Frank in their life. I want the best for you and selfishly want to read more posts like this one. You are a gift and a light to me and a witness to hope. Thank you and I will trust with you for all good things for you.
Thank you, Henry. There is, indeed, a lot to “religion” that we need to strip away and to let fall away from its own dead weight. These are time for dwelling close to the Center, at the Heart and taking what we feel, hear, and learn there to others, as I know you’re doing in your work, for which I affirm you. I’m grateful for your encouragement and for your hopes from me. Hope you and yours have a joyful Thanksgiving.
You are so wise and an amazing teacher. Your words always speak to me at times when I need them the most.
You have been one of those people who “stood at the mouth of the cave, holding a light and encouraging me to come out”. Oftentimes, your sermons touch me in a way that encourage me to hang on and keep forging ahead. You make an impact, my friend, in a world where it’s sometimes hard to trust.
Buffy, thank you. I’m honored and grateful to know that I’ve held the light for you. What you’re doing in the world matters so much and who you are matters even more. I’m grateful for your encouragement and affirmation. We’ll both keep forging ahead! Peace and grace to you, Guy
When we are broken and deeply injured it is difficult to find a place of trust. I suspect that your willingness, Guy, to share your story with others is providing the means through which to repair trust. Thank you, my friend. Holding you in the light.
Thank you, Barb, for holding me in the light. Writing is, for me, a way of finding or making coherence out of my experience. That coherence makes trust more possible. Best, Guy
Your words always cause me to think more deeply, reflect more deeply on my own situations, and draw me closer to the One that gives life to all things. Thank you! I begin praying for you today (again) as you embark on another season that may create great challenge. God is with you, my brother, and you will be in my thoughts and prayers daily.
Thanks so much, Jim, for being in touch, for letting me know that some of what write is helpful to you, and, especially, for including me in your thoughts and prayers. Best to you, Guy
Whenever I’m preparing to send a greeting card I think of these 4 concepts but struggle with words to convey them. Your 4 imperative verbs are appropriate whatever the season or circumstance. Thank you.