The coaching conversations I have throughout any given week often include talk of trusting the Lord, about our need or desire to trust Him more. The very next question is typically “how?” How do I trust more? What exactly does that look like?
Getting in the Water
About 10 years ago, I decided I wanted to participate in triathlons. I had always loved running and had completed many running events including half-marathons and a full marathon. But, my then 40-year-old knees and hips made it clear that it was time to stop running such long distances!
So I took an interest in triathlons. The only problem was, I could not swim. I mean, I could swim well enough to enjoy a day at the beach or the pool without needing to be rescued, but nothing beyond that. So it was time to learn how to really swim. I read a book about competitive swimming. I watched loads of Youtube videos on mechanics, technique and building-endurance. That was all well and good, but my swimming skills were not improving yet. At some point, I had to actually get into the water! I had to experiment with and put into practice the various tips I had read about!
I would say this same concept is applicable to many aspects of the spiritual life, trusting the Lord being one of them.
Our trust experiment unfolds as we put what we’ve read or learned about how to trust the Lord into practice. For me, this meant getting in the habit of saying “Jesus I trust in You” throughout the day and putting the surrender novena on repeat: “O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything.” Be forewarned: Uttering such declarations consistently and intentionally, will surely result in many opportunities to put them into practice!
Anyone peering in on my “practice opportunities” may not have observed behavior that could be described as surrendered trust. Rather, one might have observed reactivity or lashing out and grasping for control. I know, not a pretty sight.
“from the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks” – Luke 6:45
My mouth reflects what my heart is filled with. When my mouth, to include my thoughts, words and actions, reflected reactivity or lashing out, it was an indication that my heart was filled with fear, not trust. My grasping for control, quite honestly, reflected distrust in the way the Lord was handling the situation. To change my reactive “in the moment” response required a practice of changing what was going on in my heart.
Learning from the Trust Experts
Jesus told St. Faustina that what hurts Him most is the sin of distrust, that is, when people do not trust in His merciful love. He shared with her also the way to overcome the sin of distrust is by praise and thanksgiving. Trust in practice is praising and thanking the Lord in all circumstances. When I started going to a weekly Charismatic prayer meeting, I was a little taken aback at the way attendees thanked Jesus for undesirable situations. “Thank you, Jesus that the washer broke this week.” “Thank you, Jesus for my canceled flight and the 6-hour airport layover.” Were these people crazy??
Crazy or not, they showed me that it is possible to remain filled with peace, gratitude and even joy, during trying times. THAT is trust. So I took a step into the pool and began to put these ideas into practice. I began telling Jesus all throughout the day, “thank you Lord for being here with me;” and often just “Thank You Jesus,” no matter what was happening around me.
You know how if you hear something repeatedly, it gets stuck in your head? Like that song you can’t get out of your mind? Imagine how awesome it was when I realized that I had “thank You Jesus” stuck in my head! Gratitude to the Lord was beginning to get stuck in my heart too. And slowly but surely, my behavior during trying moments was shifting to reflect the trust and gratitude in my heart.
I certainly can’t say that I always “live with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving with joyful, trustful acceptance of God’s will,”(1) but I really want to! I am ready to swim out a little deeper.
This Lent, I will be participating in a book study “retreat” of Father Jacques Philippe’s: The Way of Trust and Love, a retreat guided by St. Therese of Lisieux. I am really looking forward to learning (and practicing) St Therese’s “little way.” Will you join me? The book study will be facilitated by You Are Made New Contributing writer, Kate Huhn. You can learn more about our study here.
“I learned from experience that joy does not reside in the things about us, but in the very depths of the soul, that one can have it in the gloom of a dungeon as well as in the palace of a king.” – St. Therese
1 Father Michael Gaitley in Consoling the Heart of Jesus
De Yarrison, Copyright 2020