Trust: A Life-long Practice

Trust is a way of being I have intended to practice for a while now. In January 2020, it was one of the words I set for myself to be the guide and inspiration throughout the year. I find it a rather elusive word. Questions dance in my mind as I reflect on the term: How much do I need to do before trusting all will go well? Is trust an action, or is it letting go of action? Who am I trusting? Myself? Circumstances? Others? God?

If we are lucky, we are blessed with moments in our lives where trust is almost tangible, where we feel its presence surrounding us. These moments serve as reminders on the days when we are doubtful. I remember one of these moments of trust in my own life; the moment occurred seconds after my second son was born prematurely and unexpectedly. I had no reference or knowledge as to what to expect, or whether he would survive or not. The second I held him in my arms, a feeling of calm, holding, and trust descended upon me. It is the most spiritual experience I’ve had in my life. At that moment, I knew with every cell of my being that he would be okay. No concrete knowledge or assurance from doctors was the reason for my certainty; it was intangible, and yet so powerful that thirteen years later — today — I can still feel it.

As most parents with their teenage children, I found myself struggling with him recently. I was worried about his future — about how he’d grow up to be and the specific kinds of challenges he’d face. I was debating with myself, asking if his future would be compromised because he didn’t get his homework done. I was frustrated and anxious about the situation, and while I was trying not to blow it out of proportion, it was truly troubling me. I decided to talk to a friend about it, and before I knew it, I found myself telling her his birth story. When I started describing that blissful moment, I realized how ridiculous and unfruitful it was for me to worry about the situation, or about him! This kid will be okay, I know it. I trust it. There is a power beyond anything I can ever do for him that is taking care of him at every moment of every day.

My trust practice took shape in two ways: surrendering to what is, and staying open to what will come. My physical practice of surrendering was sujood. It was a state where I was intentionally choosing the divine plan over my plans, where I acknowledged God’s power and wisdom over my own power and knowledge, and where I entered a state of trusting and being as opposed to striving and doing. As for my physical practice for staying open, I chose to kneel or sit while leaning back with my hands open and extended. This pose allowed me to receive from God above, and to stay open to all possibilities. Many opportunities materialized and presented themselves to me in 2020 that I’d never even thought of or imagined previously.

Over the course of the year, I came to know trust as a quieting — a quietening of my inner being. A process of embracing the totality of who I am, the parts known to me as well as those I have yet to encounter. I came to know trust as a verb, a continuous action…trusting. Trust was not a static place or state.

To trust is to stay within duality and paradox, to create space for both to be held at the same time. It’s a funny thing that we humans do, believing we are one thing or one way — believing we are static as opposed to changing. We see ourselves as either/or: as right or wrong, confident or doubtful, good or bad. We restrict ourselves within one definition, one label, even one direction. We create a single story about ourselves, and then we believe it to be the only one. We take one part of ourselves and mistake it for the whole. “I’m successful”; “I’m a failure” / “I’m confident”; “I’m not confident” / “I’m powerful”; “I’m powerless.” 

Trust pushes us to see beyond these simple binaries. To trust is to surrender to what is. And what is is never fully clear or settled. Trusting is settling into the known while accepting the unknown. It is understanding when to do and when to be. It is trusting that we have everything we need within ourselves, trusting that we are always held by God.

When I sit and reflect on my day, I find many moments of trust, even if the moments are small. For example, I trust my coffee machine to make my cup of coffee every day. I don’t go to sleep worrying about whether or not it will work in the morning. When it doesn’t work, I simply do something about it. It may seem simple, but it’s the same process for bigger things. It’s a question of where I want and choose to invest my energy and effort. Do I want to worry each night that the coffee machine won’t work in the morning? Or do I simply trust the machine, knowing that if it doesn’t work, I can always go to a coffee shop for my coffee?  

This year has been all about me learning to surrender and trust. Beginning with launching my podcast, “Start the Conversation,” which was a big lesson in trusting my gut, acknowledging my inexperience, and above all, keeping ease as my guiding principle. There were opportunities I strived for and didn’t get, ones I turned down because they didn’t align with what I want to do, and roles I played without seeking them out. I seek to continue carrying this practice and intention into 2021, with an even stronger conviction that all my doing has to be rooted in trust. I want to do without the added effort of expectations and stress; I want to simply do my part and sit back, allowing God to take care of the rest. After all, we are all held in care and love from the day we are conceived until the day we die. And as a parent, I trust that God is supporting me and taking care of my children, too. I trust that they will be held in love and care, just as the rest of us are.