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  • jakebbrock52

Learning to Trust

We live in a very anxious world. And so, not surprisingly, one of the most insistent aspects of our upbringing is learning to fend for ourselves and use our human strength to gain the upper hand over uncertain circumstances. We do this primarily as a hedge against the anxious state of the world.

For most of us this posture of fending for ourselves has become habitual and deeply engrained in our psyche. It has become an unconscious conditioned response mechanism—one that we automatically click into when attempting to tackle the problems that invariably arise in our life situation. And because it is a conditioned response it tends to color our entire outlook and approach to living. What this means is that anxiety has become more than an emotion that we occasionally feel; it has become a way of life for us. It is with us at all times and in all situations. Therefore the common mindset of modern man is now an anxious mindset. And the common approach to dealing with life’s problems and challenges is to strive, fight, plot and scheme, calculate, etc.

Unfortunately, this kind of self-propelled mental energy tends to collide with the self-propelled mental energy of others, thereby bringing conflict and tension into our experience on an almost daily basis. It is not that we enjoy creating conflict with our fellowman, but with our anxiety driving us to fend for ourselves as our top priority we find ourselves creating our own little force field of hostility. This is also the reason that the overall tone of our society is one of strife and war. For what is society, but a large bunch of individuals each doing what they must do to survive.

Meanwhile, because this energy tends to be unconscious, it is actually being mostly played out on a subtle plane of reality. This subtle plane of reality might also be looked at as a kind of collective unconscious mind. And in the same way that an individual can only free him or herself from unconscious behavior through conscious awareness, the same holds true for the collective unconscious. The problem then becomes one of powerlessness when it comes to the collective. As individuals, we still have the power to change. But as a collective, the problem of unconsciousness has become too big to fix. In other words, an individual has the motivation and tools to make things right is his or her life. But the collective seems to have neither. And so its anxious state seems to go on and on, as if by perpetual motion.

Then to make matters even worse, our collective culture has over time come to equate striving with strength. This has had the effect of legitimizing the anxious state of the world. Why? Because our culture has always viewed strength as an admirable, almost virtuous quality. In our culture the world is perceived as a scary place, while strength is promoted as the tool to overcoming this perception. Nothing is done to try to make the world less scary. Rather individuals are taught to become so strong that they prosper even in the climate of anxious uncertainty.

Interestingly, when we come to the spiritual life, all of this starts to look glaringly insane. For, it does not take long for us to realize that the spiritual approach to life is one of pursuing peace and harmony and ceasing from our anxious striving. Instead of fending for ourselves, in the spiritual life we learn to relax and trust. Instead of fighting and controlling, we learn to rest and let things be as they are. Instead of allowing our problems to cause us to click into an unconscious reactive pattern, we seek to employ our conscious awareness to diffuse such patterns. Then little by little, we begin to see that we have been spreading hostility through our own unconscious impulse to fend for ourselves and we seek instead to become peacemakers. We also gain the revelation that human strength is not all that our culture paints it to be. Not only is it not an admirable quality; it is truly one of the most unspiritual energies a human being can move in. In truth, one who has attained great strength humanly is, at his or her core, a frightened, small human being.

And so it is that coming to the spiritual life turns out to be no small adjustment for us. Rather it is nothing short of the reversal of all that we have been moving in. That is why the New Testament equates it to becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). And it is this matter of anxiety-induced behavior that is at the heart of our transformation. Going from an orientation of striving to one of trust is a monumental shift in our makeup.

Thus we see that learning to trust is actually one of the foundational underpinnings of the spiritual life. It not only constitutes a change in our behavior. It translates us from the human realm into the realm of the divine—from the earthly plane to the heavenly plane. Previously, we depended on our own human strength and were earthbound accordingly, but when we learn to trust we find ourselves depending on a power greater than ourselves and transcending the earthly plane altogether. And so we find that trust and faith are inextricably joined. We also find that learning to trust can require a leap of faith for us. For before we can learn to trust a higher power we must come to believe that such a power exists.

This does not mean that we have to know everything there is to know about this higher power. In truth, such knowledge is not even possible for us in our present state of

consciousness evolution. But when learning to trust, it is enough for us to believe that a higher power exists. Then little by little we can take the leap of faith into the realm of trusting in that higher power. This may sound impossible for us to do, but in actuality, not only is it possible; it is not all that difficult.

Curiously, once our consciousness has developed to the point of being able to believe in and trust the higher power, knowledge about that power becomes secondary. What matters most is that we have ceased to trust in ourselves and our own strength and begun to look upward. For, it is this lifting up of our countenance that really moves mountains in our lives. For this reason it also matters little what we call the higher power. If we have ceased to trust in ourselves and have lifted our trust upward, we are all trusting in the same power. Our trust becomes like an impersonal posture that the universe recognizes as a posture for receiving its full quiver of blessing. And this dynamic then acts as a law unto our life experience.

Biblical wisdom confirms this mystical truth, when it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your pathways straight.” (Proverbs 3:4). The main variable that most people tend to fudge on in this passage is the word all. Learning to trust takes time and practice, and at first we must start small. In other words, we might trust a little but when push comes to shove we often revert to our old ways of human strength. We acknowledge the higher power on some level but find our faith to be a little lacking. Whereas, trusting with all our heart and acknowledging the higher power in all our ways implies a very high level of consciousness development. For in order to reach such a high level we must have done the inner work needed to disarm our unconscious conditioned response mechanism of anxious striving and have freed ourselves from its repetitive instigation. So you might not at first find that all of your pathways have been made straight, but be assured: once you are able to trust the higher power with all your heart, unprecedented blessings will begin to flow into your life.

The good news is that all of this is based on law. On the spiritual journey it is never a question of the higher power rewarding us or favoring us. That would make the higher power an unpredictable, personal, almost whimsical entity. And we know that It is not like that. But based on law the universe recognizes our posture of trust and good things begin to come our way. It also recognizes when we are not trusting with all our heart, for this too constitutes a legal posture—one that may for a time result in only a partial flow of blessing.

Where did Jesus weigh in on all this? Not surprisingly, he not only echoed the Old Testament’s teaching about trust; he took it a step further. He taught about the legal dynamic of the posture of trust and he taught us how to make sure progress towards achieving that posture. How did he do this? He gave us a very simple tool for de fanging our subconscious storehouse of anxiety—a tool that we are all very familiar with and have often used in other situations. This tool is the tool of logic and reason.

“Do not worry about your life,” he said. “Consider the ravens. They do not sow or reap; they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. . . . Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Do not set your heart on what you will eat of drink, do not worry about it. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:22-31). And so Jesus exposed worry as being not only unspiritual but also illogical. In other words, it makes no sense. So why do we do it? It is because we have lost sight of who we were created to be. We have believed the lie that separation from God and an independent life built by human strength is the highest expression of our human hood. This has caused us to have to fend for ourselves and has created a world of Darwinian strife—an anxious world, in which only the strong can survive. We have also lost sight of the nature and laws of the universe, wherein it is not a posture of isolation and strength that attracts blessedness and makes our pathways straight; rather it is a posture of wholehearted trust. Thus the entire orientation of human life has become an aberration. And as Jesus pointed out, it is not only aberrant; it is illogical.

To live by anxious striving and the exertion of our human strength is diametrically opposed to how we were created to live. No wonder such an approach has resulted in the devaluation and debasement of human life. No wonder that as individuals each one of us is beset with health problems, financial difficulties, and relationship issues. No wonder we live lives of quiet desperation—lives that are hard, frustrating, exhausting, and unfulfilling. And no wonder that the one constant that has characterized our world climate since the beginning of the age is one of hostility and war.

Meanwhile, the solution to all these problems is one in the same. It is to do the inner work of consciousness development that will bring us into harmony with our original created blueprint. That is what Jesus meant when he said to seek the kingdom of God first. That is the right order of things, not seek to insulate ourselves from anxiety and fear by becoming super strong in our isolated posture.

Trusting in the higher power with all our hearts may require a leap of faith for us at this point in time. But logic and the laws of the universe concur: It is and always has been the right way for us to live—that is, the way of peace, goodness, and the fullness of life. We not only were created to live without being anxious; we do not even need to take thought for our lives. Why? Because the higher power of our universe has already seen to our provision and well-being in the act of creation. All we need to do is to learn to trust.

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