Real Life. Real Faith.

One evening several years ago, I had a “don’t have sex in college” talk with one of my kids. Note, I had “a” talk, not “the” talk. I knew I would be compelled to bring this up again over the next five months as we prepped to launch another kid. Truthfully, the conversation would probably be had while he was in college as well because I can’t help myself.

Some may suggest it was ill-advised, diving in like that over dinner while my husband was still at work. I would have to think fast while talking with a teenage boy who, in addition to being a quick thinker, was also on the upswing of mental alertness at 7:30 p.m., while I was on the slow descent to sleep, wondering how early is too early to go to bed. Nonetheless, I recklessly lurched in.

In homes around the country where high school seniors reside, early spring means colleges are discussed and decisions are made. The May 1 deadline that seemed ages away in September was frightfully close, looming over many conversations. In a blink, we would be packing the car and heading to an as-yet unknown university to deposit our precious darling, trusting that all would be well.

And it occurred to me that it’s always about trust. I wondered: If I could just master trust, would things be different? It seems God is frequently asking me to trust. Trusting God is hard, but trusting a teenager is harder. He knows what I want to hear. He knows I want him to resist the temptations that will surround him at this large public university several states away. He knows I want him to respect himself and his future bride. He knows about sexually transmitted diseases (there had already been a dinner conversation about those), and he knows I want him to bring a healthy physical, emotional and spiritual self to a marriage. I know I need to trust that he will act on this knowledge.

But knowing this, and living this trust, are two different things. It’s the same with God. The Bible tells us that not only can we trust God, we must. Experience has shown me time and again that it’s safe to trust God. Good things come of it. So why is it so hard?

I think it’s hard because I’ve been let down. Everyone has. Whether it’s someone who intentionally or unintentionally broke our trust, none of us is perfect, so we hurt each other. Each time I find I cannot trust someone or that trust has been broken, it adds one more pebble to the why-I-can’t-trust-others-and-should-rely-on-myself pile, and that’s not a pile that goes away. It stays with me. It’s also not a good pile to be carrying. As it grows, it becomes heavier and more burdensome.

From experience, I know that relying on myself is no good either. I can’t trust myself to make the best decision every time — I’ve got this pile I’m hoisting around. I’ve got a heart full of emotions, and I never know the whole picture because it’s too big. The Bible even exhorts us against this kind of attitude in Proverbs: “He who trusts in his own mind is a fool; but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26)

That leaves me traveling the longest 18 inches in the world from my head to my heart. As usual, it becomes clear I can’t do this on my own. The only way I can fully trust God, the only way I can trust that even though a situation feels dire, God has it covered, is if I am honest with both myself and him. I have to tell him how I feel; tell him I want to trust him in the situation but I’m struggling.

The first step in trusting is trusting that God loves me enough to be OK with me stumbling through this. I have to trust in order to trust. So it’s time to fake it until I make it. I know that by virtue of my Baptism, I am God’s daughter. The Bible tells us many times to be not afraid. Jeremiah tells us in chapter 29 that God has plans to give us hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The Old Testament is full of people who trusted God in what seemed to be hopeless or crazy situations: Daniel was in the lion’s den, Job lost everything, Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, Joseph was sold into slavery, and Moses had to convince the Pharaoh to release his people and then lead them through a desert. These were people who trusted, and it worked out. I can do that.

I can’t control what my kids do after they leave the nest. I have to trust both God and them because if I don’t, I will lose my mind with worry, and I doubt that’s the good plan God has for me. So I lay it out before Jesus on the cross and ask for his help in trusting that it’s OK that I’m still learning to trust and everything will be all right. He will be with me through any challenges that come our way. I think that’s one of the benefits of trusting — I won’t be alone. I was baptized into the greatest family ever. It will be OK. God is so good.