The crazy side of trust

by Kristin on October 4, 2010

in Belief, doubt & hope

Photo by Bark

Not long ago I was doing what I love to do most when I’m feeling stressed and stuck: I was sharing all of my problems with my parents. (I had already shared them with Jason, of course. Actually, I live them with Jason, so they weren’t news to him.)

In this case, the problem is my family’s “space issues” at home (five people, three bedrooms, one bathroom), paired with the current state of the Real Estate market (no, we don’t want to give you a loan until you sell your house).

“The timing is so impossible!” I complained to my parents. “If we wait to put our house on the market until we find another house we love at a price we can afford, it will take forever to sell our house, and someone will buy the one we want first. But if we put our house on the market without another one in mind that we want to buy, our house will probably sell right away and we’ll end up settling for a house or neighborhood we don’t really like.”

Big steps take trust

The next day, my mom sent me an email that somewhat surprised me. “I believe you should put your house on the market now,” she wrote. I was surprised, because she tends to be the more cautious member of our family. Lots of planning, research and  consideration go into her decisions.

What didn’t surprise me, though, was her rationale: “I believe strongly that it is the best way to proceed if you are going to allow God to be calling the shots—or should I say, if you are going to let loose of what you want and allow God’s timing and direction.”

I got that excited-yet-scared-to-death feeling I get in my stomach when I know I’m about to do something rather crazy and important. I knew she was right: We had to act—to do something—and trust. We had to let go of all of the things we have no control over anyway, and believe that crazy idea that there’s a larger power at work, one who cares, and can see and shape the big picture.

Do you think I’m crazy?

So that’s what we’re doing. But I have to admit, when I considered blogging about this, I got all embarrassed and prematurely defensive. I could just imagine what many people who read my blog would think: First there would be the “I can’t imagine how an intelligent person would believe there’s a higher power out there” camp. Then there’d be the “Sure there’s a higher power, but how ridiculous to believe that he/she/it cares about all the minutia of our individual lives” camp (like how a family with three daughters is supposed to survive teenager-dom with one bathroom).

I admit—it does seem rather absurd. But I can’t deny that I believe it. And not just because I want to believe it. I’m far too logical a person for that. I believe it because I have seen evidence of that kind of care, that kind of movement and wisdom, peace and power in my life. I have seen amazing things happen—things beyond what I could ever have imagined—when I finally let go of my desire to control the outcome of everything.

The importance of remembering

Much of the Bible is about how human beings have gotten themselves into huge messes, usually in the process of trying really hard to get what they want (or what they think they want). Another big chunk of the Bible tells how God led those people out of the messes. And then there are the significant parts (the Psalms, for instance, and many parts of Paul’s letters), that are focused on people remembering how God rescued them, and bearing witness to that.

My life encompasses all three of those themes. Because the first two—my messes, countered by God’s redeeming love—are so prevalent, the third theme—remembering—is so important.

That’s what I found myself doing at church yesterday. The songs we sang led me directly to that place, in a way that took me off guard and brought me to tears.

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake to guide the future, as in ages past.

Yes.

And this, from a song based on Isaiah 43:

When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and the wind and the waves will not overcome you.
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, and you are mine.

I believe that. God knows me and redeems me. I believe that enough to let go—not always, maybe, but right now, yes.

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  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

    I can really relate to this. There comes a point when you have to jump regardless of what others will think. It’s tough. Thank you for sharing this. I’m sort of still in mid-jump right now, wondering whether I’ll land on my feet or my face.

    We read the story of Elijah in church last night and I was really encouraged by it, especially the part with the widow and her son. God put Elijah in an impossible situation where only God could provide for him. I mean, who would think a widow could take care of Elijah during a famine??? Blessings as you make this leap.

  • Jennifer

    First, your mom totally rocks. She told you something that in a quieter moment, you would have arrived at yourself, probably. She was your mom, your friend and a spiritual mentor. For that I know you are thankful.

    Second, I taught a women’s Bible study for years. One of my favorite lessons was on the Ebenezer stone from 1 Samuel. Our family and our church now use stones and other bits and bobs of life to construct visual tokens of remembrance. We have a bowl in our front hall filled with odd little items, each one a reminder of the good things God has done for us, even when we ourselves felt small, insignificant and without power.

    So, who cares if others think it’s dumb to live by and love a higher power. Because you know the truth. And who cares if it looks stupid to put a house on the market right now. You are letting go and letting him catch you. In the end, it’s not just a house. It’s you walking in step.

  • http://www.kristensloan.com Kristen Sloan

    I do think you are crazy. But aren’t we all? Sometimes you need to take the risk and trust. I planned a move and quit my jobs without anything lined up and trusted that it would work out. It did. Maybe not the way I expected, but it worked out. I think we experience personal and spiritual growth when we take the leap and risk failure.

    I loved this post!! Thanks for the great writing Kristin.

  • erin

    Kristin, how is it that you write about what is in my head?! I love this post, yet simultaneously struggle with it. As you know, I’ve been working at my little neighborhood coffee shop for five (FIVE!) years now. And as you also know, a friend and I have started a church. I want so badly (SO BADLY!!) to not work full-time there anymore. I want to devote needed energy and time to the new church. If I could financially, I’d drop to only two days at the shop–in a heartbeat. (But, that darn rent check needs to be written).

    And so, I struggle with the idea of leaping. I think sometimes it makes sense to leap; sometimes it makes sense *not* to leap. But, how do we know when to leap? I want to be a good steward of the time, wisdom, and employment God has so graciously given me. And, I know you want to be a good steward of the home, family, and wisdom God has given you.

    So, how do we know when to leap?

  • http://www.cocktailbanter.com Jana CG

    Thanks for sharing – I can totally relate to your struggles. I also agree with you about the importance of remembering God’s faithfulness.

    Ed’s Elijah example is a great one, and reminds me of the stories from the Old Testament that show what remembering looks like in action. I love the idea that the Israelites would gather together stones and place a physical marker to note what God did in a particular place and time.

    I’d like to be that mindful of God’s presence, even when everything about me seems so out of His control. Until then, I’ll keep singing hymns right along with you :)

  • http://takingtheyoke.blogspot.com Ray Hollenbach

    I’m in the “why wouldn’t God care about every detail of my life?” camp. Jesus told us that not a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father taking notice; that he has numbered the very hairs on our heads.

    Fear is what keeps us from believing this–not the “what would the neighbors think?” fear, but the entirely rational “what if I get it wrong?” fear. What if I confuse my decisions for God’s leading, or God’s voice? What if my wishful thinking is what I choose to call God’s leading? Anyone with an ounce of sense should acknowledge such concerns.

    Over the years I’ve developed two responses to my natural (sensible) fears:
    1). How will I ever learn to distinguish between my thoughts and His voice unless I take action? Relationship with God comes like any other relationship–trial and error.
    2). God is bigger than my mistakes. I’ve discovered that even when I get it wrong, He still extends his love and care. He is quite able (and willing!) to help me out of any messes I get into–especially if I had sincerely tried to obey what I thought was his voice.

    And of course, when all else fails: listen to your mother!

    Godspeed and peace!

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com Kristin T.

    ed, ah, mid-jump is the scariest point of all. I have a feeling you’ll land on your feet—you just might be surprised where, and who’s there to assist you, right? :) (Thanks for the Elijah story reference.)

    Jennifer, my mom *does* totally rock. Maybe you’re right in saying that I would have arrived there myself, in a quieter moment, but I’ve been feeling really anxious and wanting to control things lately. I was pretty far from that all-in-trust place, even though I’ve experienced it before and been blown away by what it offers. And I love-love this—might have to steal the idea: “We have a bowl in our front hall filled with odd little items, each one a reminder of the good things God has done for us, even when we ourselves felt small, insignificant and without power.”

    Kristen, yes, I know lots of crazy people. I tend to be drawn to them, maybe because safe living doesn’t end up being very interesting. You also make a great point about things working out, even if it’s not always how we expected/envisioned. That’s exactly my story surrounding my move to this town. I moved expecting to be blessed, and I was very blessed, but not at all when and how I expected.

    erin, I’m pretty sure you’re my brother from another mother (or sister from another mister?). That’s why we’re in each other’s heads. :) I hear what you’re saying about your situation. It feels really different when basic financial needs are at stake. It *is* different, and yet we’re still called to trust that we’ll be cared for, just like the lilies of the field. I don’t know how to answer the “when to leap and when to wait” question, but maybe it has something to do with restlessness. If you genuinely feel like you’re giving this situation to God, and you still feel a great sense of restlessness at the coffee shop, maybe a leap is called for? I was determined to be content in this too-cramped house—to make it work—but I just couldn’t settle with peace in that place. So I’m off to explore the unknown!

    Jana, I love how you put this: “…stories from the Old Testament that show what remembering looks like in action.” You and Jennifer are really getting some ideas flowing in my mind around this. There’s remembering in your mind what God has done, there’s telling others what God has done, and then there’s that third piece, which is the one I mostly forget: marking what God has done, in some concrete way.

    Ray, you’re absolutely right to bring up scriptures about God’s attention to detail. So why is it that many people (yes, Christians included) scoff at people who pray about all the minutia of life? Are there other verses or stories that support that perspective? Anyway, your two responses to your fears are so right on, in terms of how I’ve experienced God in my life. I believe in leaping, I believe God is bigger than my mistakes. Now if only I could live like I believe it.