It was hard for me then in the fall of 1995 to trust in the basic goodness of the universe, even to accept that there was a divine purpose to it all that we may not understand. But over the years I learned many things about trust: that if we trust in a beneficent universe then we do not need to worry about whether or not an individual person is trustworthy. Because they are human, human beings will inevitably disappoint us, hurt us, and betray us. If we put our faith only in people, we will be eternally disappointed and endlessly searching for the one who will not hurt us – or the one we will not hurt, for we cannot trust ourselves either. Trust in the universe also allows us to love people better since we no longer need them or ourselves to be perfect.
I learned the converse as well, that we can trust in others, largely by not expecting more than they are capable of and having tolerance for their small betrayals as we hope they are tolerant of ours. Trust is not a black and white thing. We can trust in increments: some people we can trust in a few areas (they won’t lie outright to us, they’ll usually do what they say) or in a few situations (around legal matters, in casual interactions like going to the movies or getting work done on time). Others we can trust more deeply because we know they have our best interests at heart and they will go out of their way to ensure that we are treated fairly and kindly. People in this category might be a longterm friend or a person with a well-known reputation for trust. A very few fall into the group of people in front of whom we can fully lower our barriers, knowing that it would take either an enormous mistake or a serious tragedy for them to let us down in any way. Many of my problems with trust in other people had come from confusing what I should share with which people.
Most importantly, though, I learned that trust is about letting go. I used to cling to my problems, like a drowning person holding on to a flimsy plastic swim ring that is steadily losing air. To let go seemed like certain death, but in fact, was the only way to look up and see other possibilities. If I assume that what I have and what I know now are the only ways to solve problems, I will seriously limit myself. Opening up to the fact that I don’t know and that others (and, since I have a belief in a higher power, God) will present them to me is absolutely freeing. I have realized that I don’t have to do this all alone – that there are people and forces in the universe who can help me. I have also seen how God/All That Is/Ground of Being can orchestrate amazing things for me if I cease shutting myself into the box of my own opinions about things and truly open to whatever He/She/It wants to see manifested through me. [I should note that this is not the same thing as visualizing what I want and expecting it to show up which I see as just another way of defining, and thus limiting, the solution]
I have learned that there are many layers to trust (as there are many layers to each of the principles in this essay). In December 2012, I had a volcanic demonstration of what could happen when I was able to drop into a deeper level of trust.
For some time, I had been taking my morning meditations as an opportunity to surrender my life and my will to God. I was feeling much greater peace and was content with my life even though there were some serious problems I had been contending with for decades, among them my children’s serious illnesses and my unfulfilled desire for a deep committed relationship. One morning I suddenly realized that although I had adopted a willingness to surrender, I wasn’t trusting that good things were possible for me. I was going through life rather drearily accepting what was, not realizing that perhaps even those things that seemed most intractable could somehow be changed. As the Course in Miracles says, “There is no order of difficulty in miracles.”
So, I sat down and wrote out my three primary negative beliefs. After looking at them for a moment, I realized that it was possible for each of them to change. So, I wrote a second sentence for each which countered this belief – along the lines of “My son could get well. Someone was the first person to be cured of other illnesses that we can now cure.”
To my shock, within a week, a beautiful person appeared in response to an ad we had placed for care giving help for him, one day after that I met my soulmate to whom I am now married, and over the next few months, my daughter improved so much I could hardly recognize her.
I had not only surrendered my life but I had done so at a new level. I had surrendered it in full trust that anything could happen – even something good!
The word “Trust” has served me as an ongoing mantra, along with the next principle,