Posted by: mmreflections | August 10, 2009

Learning To Trust Again: August, 2009

 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith (trust) in God; have faith (trust) also in me.  In my Father’s house there are many dwelling  places.  If there were not, would I have told you  that I am going to prepare a place for you?”  (John 14:1-2)

Paradise lost and paradise gained might be a good backdrop for these reflections on trust.  In revisiting the story of Adam and Ever I discovered a lesson about trust.  Adam and Eve had this great trust in God who provided for their every need; they lived in paradise.  They had a Father who loved them and manifested that love in profound ways.  Then came the great deception with a temptation offering our first parents even more than they already had; they could be like God, knowing both good and evil.  “The Lord God gave man this order:  ‘You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad.  From that tree you shall not eat, the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.”‘(Genesis 2:16-17) We are familiar with the rest of this story.  Rather than trust in God we see Eve trusting the serpent, Adam trusting Eve and paradise is lost.  Fear, shame and guilt are introduced into their lives and, having lost the trust they once had in the Creator, they now go into hiding.  This aspect of the creation story could be a fitting description of what happens in the lives of most if not all of us.

Over the years I have met on my journey many fellow travelers who shared parts of their stories with me.  A common thread began to appear.  It was our inability to trust ourselves, our friends, sometimes family members and ultimately God.  Trusting in a Higher Pwer had become a challenge after experiencing many painful wounds resulting from betrayals of trust.  When we were first born into this world, we lived for the most part in a veritable paradise.  Our every need was provided by our parents and caregivers; we were contented with the love and care we received.  Our lives were marked by a great trust.  Then at some point came the first wound, a betrayal of trust, a disappointment; someone we counted on was not there for us.  Fear, shame or guilt manifested themselves.  Our little world was no longer quite as safe.  We went into hiding.  We no longer can trust that those upon whom we relied will be there for us.  Our trust in God is also challenged.

Most of us have a story about such a challenging moment.  A memory from my childhood when related may seem simple and foolish to adult ears, but to a child it may be quite significant.  To remain with me throughout my life, it must have had a powerful impact.  As a little child I remember finding a doll, perhaps  belonging to my sister.  I was playing with the doll when someone from the family in whom I trusted and held in high esteem walked into the room and caught me with the doll in my hands.  He began to tease me, laugh at me and called me a little sissy for playing with a doll.  No little boy likes being called a sissy, especially in a family of five older brothers.  Deeply hurt, I began to cry as I threw the doll aside and dropped to the floor, bumping my head.  (Needless to say, I never played with dolls again.)  My antagonist laughed all the harder, telling me to bump my head harder, not letting up on his berating words.  No one present seemed to care, no one came to my rescue.  As I finally stopped crying, a little voice deep within me said, “I will nevercry again; there will be no one to help me.”  When I reflect upon that period of my life I realize I had become a sad little boy, no longer telling anyone when I was hurting.  I remember often playing alone and if I hurt myself, like once falling off a homemade swing on our apple tree, I looked around to see if anyone saw me fall.  Too ashamed to tell anyone, I hid the pain and entire matter from  my mom or anyone in the family.  I didn’t cry; I buried the hurt.  This became a pattern that would remain with me well into my adult years.  I went into hiding.  Paradise lost!

As a grown man I slowly took small steps to trust once again, coming to the realization that it was not good for man to be alone; it was not healthy for me to be alone with all my secrets.  It was not good for me to be burying all the wounds, disappointments and betrayals from the people who care most for me.  I discovered how much I needed others in my life who could really know me, accept me and love me.  As I recall that first moment of loss as a child, I remember well that first moment as an adult when I opened my heart to a friend and learned to trust again.  I had just graduated from college and was anticipating the start of my career in teaching.  A respected, dear friend and I went hiking; we talked about many things and soon found ourselves opening up to each other with a new found trust.  We found ourselves smiling, laughing and crying at all that we had both experienced in our growing years:  the pains, disappointments, mistakes and failures.  It seemed like a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders and in the following days, weeks, months life seemed to be much happier and the prospects of eventually studying for the priesthood began to take shape.  Paradise  regained!  Regained in spite of the many other violations of trust that were still to come.

During the many years of priestly service I have had the privilege of being present as many other friends and parishioners reached the point in their lives when it became apparent to them that it was not good to be alone with all their pain and secrets.  They, too, needed to trust again.  One of the many stories that comes to mind is shared briefly here with the consent of a person who learned to trust again.  She was a deeply troubled, depressed young woman who would frequently come to the rectory with her husband and relate confused stories about matters troubling her.  This went on for a long stretch of time with no apparent improvement.  One day the couple arrived unexpectedly.  She appeared more troubled than I had ever seen her before; her husband was admitting her to a hospital because he had given up hope.  She was willing to be admitted provided she could come and talk to me privately.  Finally taking the risk and trusting someone, she came out of hiding and told her story of childhood wounds and pains she carried with  her throughout her life.   A torrent of tears and sobs seemed to be washing away the great burden she had been carrying.  Afterwards her husband took her to the hospital for evaluation.  Later that day I received a call from the hospital asking me, at her request, to pay a visit.  When I entered her room, it was hard to recognize the woman sitting there.  She was radiant and smiling!  Her husband took her home.  Sunday after Sunday I would see her happy and contented!  She trusted, took  the leap of faith and opened up her heart.  Paradise regained!

This is a story that could be told of so many others, with variations.  In every case, learning to trust another brother or sister led to a renewed and deeper trust in God.  If another brother or sister can be trusted, how much more can God be trusted.  Many are hurting in our society today witnessed by the many addictions, the great need for prescription drugs as well as other drugs to dull personal pain or to lessen depression.  It causes me to question if some of this suffering could be lessened by reaching out to another with trust.  What a great gift we can give to another and to ourselves by trusting our stories to a brother or sister or by listening to their stories with trusting and open hearts.  A trusted friend is a great gift from the Lord.

   The Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.”  Abram put his faith (trust) in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.   (Genesis 15

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: