Trust, a word that I keep coming across a lot in my life lately. I don’t know about you, but when a word seems to reoccur in my life over a period of time, I finally ask myself and God, “Ok, what about this word am I supposed to learn?”
I know that trust is a big deal for a lot of people. In The Journey Training, it’s a big focus of the Threshold weekend. I used to consider myself a pretty trusting individual until I was recently forced to take a deeper look at what this word really means and how it affects the way I live my life.
When I ponder the idea of trust, I used to think that who I did or did not trust was based on the other person and how they treated me. If someone consistently lied to me or was always late for meetings with me or seemed to break promises, I tended to not trust them, or at least trust them less (is that really a thing?). However, I’ve recently been challenged to reevaluate my view of trust, especially when it comes to God, His kids, and those I call my closest friends.
Proverbs 3:5-6 from the Message Bible says, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure everything out on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all.” Most of us who profess to be Christians have heard this passage several times. However, do you know what it really means? Do you find it easy to fully trust God from the bottom of your heart, with everything you have? I know, for me, fully trusting God is a hard concept to grasp; and it has nothing to do with God but everything to do with me.
Due to some health issues lately, my vulnerability and trust levels have increased greatly. I thought I was trusting before, but when things got downright hopeless, I realized I was closing myself off to God and those who genuinely cared about me because I didn’t want to be hurt worse, or seen as weak and unable to handle life. Everywhere I went I saw the word TRUST staring me in the face. It was in my daily devotions; it was in the sermons at church; it was glaring at me when volunteering at The Journey Training weekends. Everywhere I looked, trust surrounded me but I still wasn’t getting it.
So, I began to ask God and also talk to some of the people around me. Trust is a choice and in order to live out my purpose I wanted/needed to figure this out. Trust, to me, means that I am willing to be so authentic with you (or God or whoever), that I recognize the possibility of getting hurt and still choose to do so in order to receive the benefits of the relationship. Trusting God means I choose to believe that He has my best interest at heart and admitting that I can’t do it all by myself and His ways are better. Trusting God means, no matter what I’m feeling or what I’m seeing, I’m still open enough to share my feelings with Him and choose to believe that He is listening.
How does this translate into other relationships? Well, I’ve come to find that if people say they care and want to help you, then you should be real and vulnerable enough to give them a chance. I am a human, and no matter how much I would love to believe that I am all of the super heroes rolled into one (you know, the GREATEST person ever!), I have weaknesses and limitations. God created me (and you) to be connected with others in relationship for a reason. We can’t do life all alone, but all together, we can handle just about anything with His help.
So, in this season of life that I find myself, I am choosing to trust on a whole new level. This choice of mine has begun to make a huge difference in my life. By being real and vulnerable with those who are around me, I have shown that I’m willing to trust God and others with things that I cannot do on my own. Because of this decision, it is opening doors and resources that God had waiting all the time. He was inviting me to trust Him and others in a new way so that He could show me how trustworthy He is and they are.
How does trust or the lack of trust affect your life? Have you ever stopped to think about it? If you’ve been through The Journey Training, you learned a little about trust and that it is a choice. If you haven’t been through the training, I challenge you to look at trust in your own life and them maybe check out The Journey Training as a way to gain more information.
For most of my life I can remember feeling like I had a black cloud following me around everywhere I would go. When I became an adult,and had some hard things happen in my life. I went from feeling like I had a black cloud following me to feeling like I was fighting to keep my head above water so I wouldn’t drown in a sea of emotions that were pulling me under like crashing waves. For most of my life, I had been taught to not allow my feelings to control me. I became an expert at putting on a good face to others by stuffing and denying how I truly felt. But inside I was fighting to catch my breath because I was drowning in a sea of anger, pain, shame, fear, and loneliness.
After my 20-year marriage came to an end, these feelings increased in their control over me and my life was filled with rage, depression, worthlessness, panic, and loneliness. Through The Journey Training I learned that this was the result of stuffing, denying, and not acknowledging what I was truly feeling. I had spent a lifetime thinking that this was how you “didn’t allow your emotions to control you”.
The truth was they were controlling me – in very negative ways. By not acknowledging the anger I felt at my husband for his part in our marriage ending, I would blow up in a fit of rage at my children over something as insignificant as a sock on the floor. I was overwhelmed by worthlessness because I had not even considered the amount of shame I felt for staying in a marriage for so long with someone who had made choices that deeply wounded me. Depression also ruled my life because of the pain I had endured during my childhood, with an alcoholic father who physically abused my mother and the emotional hurts my mother inflicted upon us as a result of her own pain. Finding myself a single mom of 4 children, I would now have many moments of panic. I was afraid of not being able to adequately provide for them (even though their father was an amazing financial support during this time) and also paranoid that I would never recover and have the opportunity to be loved and married again. Isolation has always been a part of my life as an introvert. It is very easy to hide away and not interact with others, especially when I was so insecure that I often felt alone in a room full of people. So, I would isolate all the more to avoid that feeling of loneliness.
At The Journey Training, I learned tools to help me process or acknowledge my feelings and I found gifts on the other side. I learned that by acknowledging what I am feeling anger about, I could find the motivation to do something about the situation instead of denying what I was feeling. For example, my adult son was not paying us for his phone and insurance as agreed upon and was not putting forth much effort to get a job. Instead of continually griping at him about it (as if that was doing any good), I found the motivation to set a boundary and inform him that he had until a set time to pay the two bills and if he did not, the data would be shut off on his phone and he would not be allowed to drive any car because he would be removed from the insurance policy. The result, he found a job within a week and our relationship was not damaged by my continuous nagging. It was a win – win!
When you touch a hot stove, it burns to let you know that something has happened to your body that needs your attention. Feelings are that same kind of alert – to let you know something has happened to your soul that needs your attention. If we ignored the physical pain we feel when we burn our hand, the pain would increase and some kind of nasty infection would probably develop. Consider what our souls must look like when we ignore the warning signs that our emotions are giving us!
If you would like to learn more about tools for processing and acknowledging your feelings, consider coming to the next class at The Journey Training. I am beyond thankful that I did 4 years ago! I no longer feel as if I am emotionally drowning nor do I have a black cloud following me! Do I ever have a bad day? Of course! But now I know what to do to identify the cause of whatever I am feeling and deal with it before it infects my soul.
Fear can be paralyzing and make us feel like there’s no way out. Annie Downs, a speaker and author of the book “Let’s All Be Brave”, recently delivered a message on fear. She posed this question in response to “What if?” questions of fear in our lives: “… And then what?” This really hit me because I HATE feeling STUCK and it helped remind me of so many things that I learned in The Journey Training.
I’m a planner, always have been – always will be. I remember making college plans from a young age. I thought I was destined for Harvard, Florida State, or Notre Dame. I always thought I knew what career I was going to choose – everything from Chairman of the Board or lawyer to an actress on Days of our Lives.
I pursued both medicine and nursing in college. In my mind, it didn’t matter that I’m legally blind with a left side weakened by a prenatal stroke. There were still plenty of things I could do in those fields! Well, those plans didn’t pan out. And I vividly remember when it occurred to me that I MIGHT not get an acting contract and marry one of the actors. I was devastated!
The day I got rejected from nursing school, my Dad drove up to my college to have dinner with me. He was expecting to have to pick me up off the floor. And then what? I made the choice to believe that I was going to be okay, that GOD HAD BETTER PLANS FOR ME.
I actually went to the University of Georgia for my Bachelor’s degree, the University of San Diego for my Master’s degree, and now I’m a Special Education teacher. There were a lot of steps in getting there, a lot of tears cried, and a lot of plans that changed.
Fears can stop us if we give up and let them – or we can choose to do something else instead.
Your boyfriend breaks up with you. And then what? You enjoy more time with your friends and you go meet new people.
You don’t get a job you wanted or you lose your job. And then what? You keep networking and applying for other jobs.
Your weight loss methods aren’t working as you hoped. And then what? You try something different.
We can’t completely stop fear from entering our lives, but life doesn’t have to stop when a fear is realized. We can choose to find an answer to the question, “And then what? It usually just takes one small step to begin working through the fear. I’m not saying it will be easy and we don’t have to do it alone.
No matter our circumstances, God doesn’t give up on us: “I’ve never quit loving you, and I never will. ” Jeremiah 31:3
Are you feeling stuck somewhere in your life? Do you feel like nothing is changing? Are you afraid to make a move because you don’t know what to do next? Consider enrolling in The Journey Training’s next class. There’s your first small step and to answer the question, “And then what?”
I am a facilitator in The Journey Training. Recently, I was traveling to Tulsa for a training weekend and I had a layover at the Atlanta airport. I had several hours in between my flights so I got something to eat and then went to the assigned gate with plenty of time to charge my phone and catch up on some email. When I arrived at my gate all of the electric outlets were already being used by other people. I’ll admit I was a little frustrated. I looked around and noticed a fairly empty area a few gates away, so I went down there and sat in a seat near the check-in desk. I plugged in and started to go through my email. Everything was back on plan.
About 5 minutes later, a lady came to the gate area and sat directly across from me on the other side the check-in desk. I could tell that she was very distraught. She was talking with someone on her phone, she was bent over and rocking back and forth in the seat, and she was crying. I had no idea what was wrong, but it must have been bad.
Immediately, a soft voice in my head said “Go to her.” I answered that voice with “Do what? I don’t think so, I’m busy.” A few minutes go by and that voice says again “Go to her.” Once again, I declined and added “Someone else will help her.” This process repeated itself in my head several times over the next 15 minutes or so until I finally said to the insistent voice “Ok, Ok – I’ll go!” Then I started trying to figure out what to say and how I was going to help her. I remembered that I had a travel pack of Kleenex in my briefcase. I got the Kleenex out and wouldn’t you know it, that’s when she stopped talking on her phone. I thought I was just going to be able to walk over, offer her the Kleenex, and walk away. I would have done what the voice asked me to do and that would be that.
I had already made eye contact with her though and now I was committed. There was no easy way out. I got up, grabbed my stuff, walked over and said “I’m not sure what you’re going through, I hope these will help a little.” She reached up and grabbed hold of the Kleenex but didn’t pull them from my hand. She just looked at me. I sat down and asked her what had happened. It took her a minute and then she said “My ex-husband committed suicide 3 hours ago, he shot himself.” I was shocked by her statement, but then things just slowed down and I knew why I was there and what I was supposed to do.
For the next 40 minutes we sat and talked. She told me about how angry she was at him, about how she should have seen the warning signs, about how it was her fault. And yes we cried together too – in front of all kinds of people. But before she boarded her flight, I helped her understand that it wasn’t her fault and I got her to tell me all the good things about him. Slowly, the weariness of guilt, grief, and anger began to fade and her face began to change when she told me how he would play with their young grandson on the floor. We talked about how she was going to go through a lot of ups and downs in the days and weeks to come. I encouraged her to remember the good things about him during those down times. Then it was time for her to board her flight. She thanked me for spending time with her, we said our goodbyes, and we went our separate ways.
I’ve thought about that day often since then. Looking back, I realize now that God orchestrated my steps. He intentionally positioned me at that gate, in that seat, directly across from another empty seat, for a specific purpose. I almost chose to ignore Him, several times in fact. Why? Because I was afraid. What was I so afraid of? Was it that she might reject my offer to help? Honestly, I think I was most afraid of being embarrassed in front of other people – if she would have made a scene and yelled something like “Just leave me alone, it’s none of your business!” I was afraid of being humiliated in public.
I’m so glad that I finally listened to the soft voice and didn’t let that fear stop me! She may never remember my name or all the details of our conversation, but I’m certain she will never forget how she felt when someone cared enough to just offer her a tissue and sit and talk with her. I hope I was as big a blessing to her as she was to me. Yes that’s what I said. She was a huge blessing to me too. She helped me remember what courage is that day, to take action even when it feels uncomfortable. God used both of us!
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people … Galatians 6:10 NIV
We are all presented with opportunities every single day to make a difference in the life of another person and receive a blessing for ourselves in return. We most often hear that soft voice, God’s voice, and choose to ignore it. We often tell ourselves “It’s none of my business, don’t get involved, they don’t need any help.” We just sit there or walk on by because we’re afraid of something.
Whenever we are doing something that is not in our best interest or in the best interest of others, we are choosing to let fear control us.
We need to realize that these opportunities are not accidents or coincidences. We need to make the choice to slow our lives down a bit so we can truly see what is going on around us, to listen to that soft voice that urges us to act, and set aside our personal fears and take action.
Let’s make it our business to have courage – to reach out to other people – to get involved – to do good in this world!
Do you often deny or ignore that soft voice? Do you let fear keep you from taking action? Come join us in The Journey Training. We’ll help you find out why and how to change it. I hope we see you soon!
I have a very heavy story of redemption and the topics of my testimony can be shocking to some. I’ve spent quite a lot of time just getting comfortable telling my story without the fear of what people might think. I felt that once I reached that place, I had arrived at true vulnerability but God has recently been teaching me that honesty, although brave and courageous, is not the same as being vulnerable. Honesty does not equal vulnerability.
In regards to my story, honesty has been retelling the facts of who I once was. It means admitting to the life I lived and choosing to keep no part of me hidden in the dark. See, when I retell of my past experiences, I am able to tell the story with my guard up. My walls can be sky high. This is easy to do because it’s the past. I’ve already learned what reactions to expect. I’ve already decided how to justify my actions or explain how I’m different. I can properly defend myself. And more importantly, I’ve already come to a conclusion on what I’m going to allow my story to say about me. I can be proud of my transformation so any judgmental reaction rolls off easier.
The trouble with this type of honesty is there is relatively no risk involved. If I’m carrying guilt and shame, the perceived risk is much higher but, in all actuality, there isn’t much risk, at all. It becomes calculated risk. I know who to tell and when. I know what parts of my story to skim and what parts to go deep. I am, in this moment, in control of the outcome.
Vulnerability means being open and exposed to the possibility of emotional, mental and/or physical injury. True vulnerability is present tense. It’s right now. It’s raw and it’s real and the risk is so great because the scenario has never played out before. I don’t know what will happen and I am out in the open with an unknown in front of me. Vulnerability requires trust in God, to the degree that bearing yourself, in a moment of humanness, honest, pure, and humble; you’re able to accept whatever reaction might come your way.
Many people can tell their stories and be honest and vulnerable, at the same time. If I tell you how I used to be gay, I’m being honest. But if I tell you how, coming out of that lifestyle, has made me, currently, struggle with relating with people, and how I isolate myself out of fear of my heart ever connecting to the wrong people, I’m being vulnerable. Vulnerability is exemplified, more, however, in our actions than our words. I can tell you how I was bullied and beat up, rejected, most of my life, but the moment I allow someone new into my life, and I choose to trust again, I’m being vulnerable.
Do I choose to love again? Do I allow my kids to see my true heart? Do I give up my control and break down my walls? Have I really given over all of my life to God? Can I put my agenda aside for a greater picture? Am I humble? Do I show honor without reservation? Do I live a life of gratitude? Can I admit when I’m wrong? Can I accept the consequences?
We all have stories, many of which are inspirational, but nothing inspires me more than a heart that is willing to be seen, right where they are at, nothing to prove, and everything to lose. The true heart of vulnerability is humility, and a complete surrender and trust that the God of the universe is madly in love with you. He sees you, and knows you, and is proud to call you His, in every moment.
I challenge you, don’t just read people your story, show them your heart.
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