Thursday, October 28, 2010


“We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy” ~ Walter Anderson

“Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have trusted other people. They have trusted me. I have had my trust broken. I have broken other people’s trust. The idea of trust seems like such a basic concept, but in reality, it cannot be more complicated. We are all human therefore making the concept of trust neither black nor white, but with unfortunate amounts of gray. Merriam Webster defines trust as: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. How do we have assured reliance on anything in a world of people who are constantly testing our certitude?

I definitely do not have all the answers to such an expansive question or even to the concept of trust itself. However I do know what I have learned from my experiences. The most important thing I think I have learned is to trust my instincts. Listening to our instincts is really about trusting ourselves first and foremost. When I have listened to them, I have never known them to fail me. For me, instinct is that pit-like feeling in my stomach that flips a little when someone looks me right in the eye and spouts out sentences of lies. Instinct is the bad vibe I may get when I meet someone for the first time. Sometimes it is that indefinable feeling that someone is not the right person for me to confide in. Looking back on events and people in my life, anytime I have not trusted my instincts, they have always ended up being right. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

What about trusting people though? Other people breaks down into two categories in my eyes: those we are trusting for the first time and those who we already put our confidence in and they broke it. People can break our trust in many ways and for many reasons. It can be as simple as a friend not following through on a commitment or as complicated as a spouse having an affair. I don’t think there is any right or wrong answer on how to handle a broken trust except for the one necessary decision that must be made: am I able to trust this person again? Because really, when someone breaks our confidence in them, it is then our decision to decide whether WE have the capability and/or desire to let them in again. Did the person who broke our trust make a onetime poor decision or are they a habitual offender? Are they capable of earning out trust back again? Are we capable of forgiving them?

That brings us to the other category of people: those who we are placing our trust in for the first time. Unfortunately, if you are one of those people who have had your trust broken over and over again, you’re probably going to have some issues here! I have had way too much experience in this department…living with a habitual liar for many years can do that to you. And face it, like Walter Anderson quoted above, trusting makes us vulnerable. It is a paradox because if we don’t, we lose out on the joy and love that can come from connecting with another person.

This is what I have discovered though. For me, truly trusting another person (whether it is with my friendship, my home, or my heart) for the first time, involves faith. It may not be for everyone, but I think that after you lick your wounds, learn from your past, and move on: you just have to make the leap. You need to have faith in your instincts and your judgment. Faith that you will learn something from taking the risk. Faith in yourself that no matter what comes from trusting again, you will make it through the experience. Faith that because you are wiser and stronger, this time you will find the joy and the love that you so richly deserve.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


"Spontaneity is the quality of being able to do something just because you feel like it at the moment, of trusting your instincts, of taking yourself by surprise and snatching from the clutches of your well-organized routine a bit of unscheduled pleasure." ~ Richard Iannelli

Everything in my life used to be very well planned. I always made plans for days, weeks, and even months in advance. I guess you can say that it went with my type A personality; which I have been working VERY hard at changing! Not that there is anything wrong with planning ahead; many times you have to. But what happens to us when every day becomes a series of planned events without any room for the unplanned and the unexpected? Don’t we lose some of the magic in our lives when everything in it is so planned and organized?

My brother and I are totally opposite in so many ways, not in matters that really count such as our character. Rather, the way we live our lives tends to be dramatically different at times. One of the main ways we are different is the fact that I am a planner and he is not. As I have gotten older, I have actually become somewhat envious of this fact. Part of me had always wanted to be more spontaneous. I was sick and tired of always thinking ahead. He wouldn’t think twice about jumping in his car and heading somewhere on a whim. I always needed to have an itinerary, a plan. Because with a plan, I felt safe. I was prepared for anything.

What I have come to realize though is that preparation does not always make you safe. There are no guarantees. You can have the best laid plans and in the end, your whole life can blow up anyways. You can take care of your health your entire life and end up with a life threatening illness. You can save for your retirement or child’s college fund and have it all taken away by a volatile stock market. So if the unexpected can happen anyways, why we are planning every detail of our lives so much? It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t plan for some of the really important things. I just don’t think we need to plan every detail of our lives from sunrise to sundown. We need to give ourselves more unexpected moments.

I recently started dating someone who is very spontaneous. He tends to plan appropriately for important events, but does not usually think days or months ahead like I do. He lives more in the moment. At first, I thought this would be very difficult for me. I had begun to be more spontaneous before we started dating by trying to take some lessons from my brother; but I did have my limits, or so I thought. What I have found through spending time with him though, is that many of the best moments are the ones we didn’t plan for such as a last minute pizza run for dinner or a walk after work. As a result of this, I am finding myself being more spontaneous even when I am not with him. Yes, I still make plans in advance with friends who live far away, I schedule doctor appointments, and I plan for church events; but in between these planned events, I am doing spontaneous things on a daily basis. It has not only been freeing to me, but has helped me be able to live my days in a more fulfilling way.

There is so much to be learned from unexpected moments, the ones we didn’t plan for. In a way, they are God’s little (or big) gifts to us. Those moments where we are not thinking months or even minutes into the future can be the very thing that puts a spark into our lives. Sometimes it means not deciding how to spend your Saturday until you wake up that morning and ending up having the most glorious day ever. Sometimes it means turning left instead of right and discovering new and beautiful scenery. And sometimes it’s saying what’s on your mind without censoring it and truly connecting with another human being. In the end, spontaneity affords us the opportunity to learn more, explore deeper, and connect more fully with our world and those in it. And what a blessing that can be…