Friday, April 11, 2008

Trust Fall, Trust Fail

Summer church camp. Bugs, wet clothes, campfires, the constant smell of insect repellent, crushes on the life guard, and bizarre activities that were meant to shape our character. There was one activity we did almost every year, usually with our small group that met for prayer and Bible study. The Trust Fall. Anyone else remember this? We lined up in two even rows, facing each other, arms locked, while the unlucky first pick stood on a platform at the end of our row, back to us, arms crossed, knees locked, ready to fall trustingly into our scrawny, middle-schooler arms.

I was always terrified of that exercise. I hated standing up there, trusting in other people to catch me before I fell on my back in the hard dirt. Looking back, I should have seen this as a clear warning sign of my control freak nature. I do not trust well. I don't trust my husband to remember lock the front door when we leave. I don't trust anyone else to clean the bathrooms correctly (not that anyone is volunteering). I don't trust the pilot flying the plane. I don't trust other people to get the directions right. I don't even like to let other people drive. I don't trust God.

In my spiritual life, my trust fall has somehow become a trust fail. Perhaps it has to do with getting older and experiencing more of the hard side of life. I was pretty sheltered as a child. I'm not sure where it really happened, but sometime in the past few years I stopped trusting God to order my life well. Really, I stopped trusting that He was good and that He loved me.

Some might say this is a valid complaint, the age-old problem of reconciling the goodness of God with all of the suffering in the world. That is certainly part of it, though I can find a comfortable philosophical answer to that problem, or at least agree with the great Christian thinkers who have offered answers to that question. It's more personal than that. It's about letting go of my need to control.

I know that following Him does not mean that my life will be full of blessings and completely absent of suffering. In fact, the way of Christ is the way of suffering. Scripture is pretty clear on that one. I know in my head that He is good, that He loves his children, and that He works through the circumstances of our lives to mature us and to bring us into greater intimacy with Him. I know these things. I believe they are true. I have experienced their truth. But now I stand on the platform, unwilling to fall, not trusting that His arms are strong enough. I want to jump down from the other side on my own and manage this thing called life without having to depend on Him, or anyone else for that matter. If I trust Him, after all, He might just let me down.

Even as I write this, I know what a silly thought it is. I cannot control what happens to me or to those I love. I cannot "manage" this life on my own. If bad things happen, they will happen whether I trust Him or not, and how much harder to walk through them alone. So much is out of my control, and if I can't trust the Maker of all things, whom can I trust?

I can fall into Him, or I can jump off the other side of the platform, away from His strong arms, But I have a sneaking suspicion that I will find that He is right there, waiting to catch me whether I want Him to or not. All the same, I am terrified.


Farrah said...

I know this feeling all too well - wanting to trust Him with everything, knowing it is the best thing to do, and yet feeling totally unable to let go enough to give up control. We don't really have it anyway, like you said. But if feels more secure to tell ourselves that we can bring ourselves good outcomes if we hold onto the reigns.
I am in an unfamiliar place of peace at the moment. Maybe only in comparison to the despair and fear that overwhelmed me for so long. But, I am starting to get a glimpse of God's goodness to me. I did not want this pregnancy. I would never have picked this journey. But now that my third boy is on the way and is healthy, I want to sit in this moment of sunshine and thank God for directing my life in ways I would NEVER choose. Both good and bad. To take one I have to take the other. I am not saying my fear is gone or that I can totally trust Him with everything. But I do feel like He has blessed me with so much that I need to take this moment, at least, to thank Him and really try to trust more next time.
He is good to you too. It doesn't always feel that way. And this season may be one of quesioning and fear for you. Let those of us who know that season well walk with you through it and give you a glimpse of the sunshine on the other side.
Love you!

At A Hen's Pace said...

I appreciate your honesty! Many of us think we ARE trusting God when really, we have wrested control for ourselves.

I'm sure you are right where God wants you. Confession of our failings and our needs are always the first step!



At A Hen's Pace said...

...IS always the first step...

Katie W. said...

i think we did that trustfall at an IV retreat one time. ?

my problem with all this is just not knowing what it looks like to "trust God". i know I'm supposed to do it, but then what?

i like how you break it down in your own life though, I can related to the specific control issues you mentioned. i guess its the little things where the rubber meets the road.

Catherine said...

Ah. I cannot. Do. The trust fall. I can't make my body do it. Not even once. Hate it.

I hear what you're saying. Since I was a little kid, I see God taking me on a journey like a spiral - each time around, it is so scary and painful and hard - but then, you do come around, and realize that even in the pain he was there. Then, you go around again. In some ways, it is easier because you know the circle will complete, and you know he'll still be there. But the path is still dark.

And, while we can rejoice that God is good, that he is faithful, that he is worthy of submission and, in fact, that there will be no lasting peace or joy outside of this submission, there's still the fact that he can be all this...and life can still really really really hurt.

So, I hear you. Eyes open, heart open.