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SPIRIT MATTERS: The rabbit hole of learning trust

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

I have vague memories as a little girl of my dad standing in the swimming pool, his arms outstretched, encouraging me to jump into them.

Meanwhile, I paced back and forth, and shifted from one foot to the other, crying, trying to muster up enough courage, enough faith that I could jump into his arms, and not be swallowed by the water. If I jumped into his waiting arms, he promised, I would be OK.

I think I might have conquered that fear, although I don’t know how long it took. I’m still pretty cautious around water, especially those that are large in scope.

From the time we are little, we are encouraged to learn how to trust.

We trust our parents to clothe us, to feed us, to teach us, to get us medical attention when we need it, to hopefully guide us through our youth onto a path that will bear fruit as we grow in maturity.

If we are lucky, our parents will continue to be with us through at least part of our adulthood to turn to and confide in when things aren’t going as expected. We look to them for their wisdom.

Over the years, and through my journey in faith, God has continually reached out to me at various times and in various situations, inviting me down a path where I could not see the future, and whispered “Trust me.”

And so, I put one foot forward, full of the anxiety that has tormented me my whole life, and then put the other foot forward, feeling like this is it, this is the end, I’m going to die of worry. As I continue walking forward, however, I find that even though the road I take to reach him seems full of brush and brambles, he proves to me that I can trust him.

And just when I think I’ve got this trust thing conquered – “Okay, God, I’ve learned that lesson.  What’s next?” – something happens that makes me have to learn an even deeper trust in him.

As Saint Benedict says in his Rule “Always, we begin again.”

Mmm. Hmm.

At least now that I have some life experience I can look back and see how God was true to his promises, often in more profound ways than I could imagine.

And that makes that next step I have to take a whole lot easier than the first one I was asked to take years before.

I once attended a retreat where the leader compared our lives to a piece of art, sort of like a quilt.

While God is busy with his needle and thread and patches and so on, all we can see is the back of the quilt, with all its jumbled thread in one big mess. Seeing it from the back, we can hardly imagine there is any rhyme or reason to the shifts and changes in our lives.

But every once in a while, we look back at our lives and can see how things that have happened to us so far, have somehow added up to something even we can make meaning out of.

And so, we trust God’s promise once again, and continue forward, eager to get a look at the final product and see how all those twists and turns were necessary for the gift of the one, unique, never-to-be-repeated life he has given us.

I’m hoping, when he shows me the finished product, it will be full of streaks of gold.

SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times' readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.

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