Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

Insights into Trust

This is Part 3 of my  reflections on getting lost.
Click here for Part 1 – Finding our Way and Part 2 – Getting Lost

Probably the most significant conversation that has come out of this experience of getting lost in the badlands has to do with the subject of trust. There was a moment when one of us surrendered to the leadership of the other in our quest to find the path out. My friend willingly put herself in second place, trusting me to find the right path that would lead us safely out. Later we talked about what had to be in place in order for one to surrender to another’s leadership in a risky situation, and she shared four specific things about trust that I want to share here.

These are the four things we learned about trust in this situation.

1.   Trust involves a physical component. One could only defer to the other’s guidance or leadership if they trusted that they would be physically safe in the process. In other words, my friend trusted me to have her safety in mind, and that I would not do anything that would unnecessarily put her in jeopardy.

2. Trust involves an emotional component. In this case, my friend trusted that she would have less anxiety and conflict if she followed me.

3. Trust involves a mental component. My friend had to trust that I was worthy of that trust, that I would do what I said, that I would be consistent, and that I would follow through. If in the past I had not shown that level of integrity, it would have been very difficult for her to trust me in that moment.

4. Trust involves a spiritual component, on two levels. On one level, it meant that my friend trusted that in spite of deferring to my leadership, she was still free to be her own person, that I was not going to oppress her or deny her, but instead would honor her and work with her. On another level, it meant surrendering to God. (Don’t worry, I’m not developing a god-complex here!) But there is a component of trust that I believe is only possible when we completely surrender ourselves to God, or to the divine Other, and trust that through whatever situation we are in, whoever we are with, God is overall and works for good.

I do think that the level of trust we ask others to have in us in ordinary situations is huge – trust of one spouse in another, of children in their parents, of friends.  We ask people to trust on many different levels, and each level requires a kind of surrender, a willingness to give-up self and will to another. Here the spiritual component of trust is especially important, because I do believe they are asking us to not oppress them or abuse this incredible gift they give us with their trust, but instead to honor the leading of God, and to honor them as they follow to the best of their ability at that moment.

I also think about the responsibility that comes with that trust. When my friend handed me her trust on all those levels, it set me back for a moment. I wasn’t expecting it, and I knew it was huge. I was incredibly honored and profoundly humbled that she trusted me that much, and that sparked in me an even greater desire to be worthy of that gift, every moment. It still does, even though we are beyond that particular moment. When someone offers you that kind of trust, even briefly, it has the power to change both the one giving and the one receiving that trust in profound ways.

You have probably already guessed that this is huge in a relationship between a spiritual life coach, or spiritual director, and the one coming for coaching.   I take that responsibility of trust very seriously, and seek in every way possible to uphold and protect that trust.  I am also very much aware that the trust you put in your spiritual life coach is always conditional.  You give it as long as you are comfortable, your “surrender” to your coach’s guidance always leaves the power in your hand to listen or not, to challenge in return, and to walk away when you feel it is time.  It is not a relationship where one has power over another; it is a mutually agreed-upon relationship where I seek to empower you, and it continues only as long as it is helpful for you.  I am honored when someone places that kind of trust in me, to try to help guide and coach them so that they can become the person they want to be.

I pray that I will always be worthy of that trust, and I embrace fully the honor and responsibility that comes from one person offering that trust to another.

Sue Coller

~Rooted in God
~Open to Grace
~Filled with Joy
~Embracing the Heart of the Healer

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