Learning to trust continues to be one of the most challenging spiritual practices of my life. A long time ago, when I was a boy, I clearly remember making the choice to trust people I met. When I was young, friends seemed rare and precious. I felt fortunate to be able to call even one person a true friend. Today, I am blessed with many friends, and they are deeply precious to my heart. What's changed for me is that instead of trusting people to do what I want them to do, I trust them to be themselves. I choose to hang out with people whose actions are consistent with their words. They are congruent in thought, word and deed. Their loving acceptance of who I am, including my perfectly imperfect human nature, is one of the greatest gifts of my life.
Lately, though, I've been thinking about trust on a whole other level. It's about trusting me. Those of you who know me well know that I've made many choices in my life that were quite self-destructive. 40 years ago I was shooting speed, and even though I stopped doing that in 1968, I soon became addicted to alcohol. There have even been times when I felt suicidal, and so there is a part of me, what I call my inner child, who has serious trust issues. My ability to trust myself rose immensely after I quit drinking in early 2001. It rose again when I completed writing, and then publishing, Drunk with Wonder.
Now my focus around trust involves trusting an infinitely loving universe. On the face of it, many reasonable people looking at the state of our world may well wonder if I have taken leave of my senses. Perhaps. I realize that I am making a conscious choice to look at the apparent chaos, endemic hatred, war, global warming and seemingly endless suffering and still choose to trust. The funny thing is, when I look at the world through eyes of love and compassion, I see many reasons for optimism, even joy. People are reaching out to other people and offering support, whether it in the form of micro loans, volunteering to lend a hand in helping people rebuild shattered lives, or simply offering a hug and a kind word.
We are taught that being open, authentic and vulnerable leads to being taken advantage of, and there is certainly ample evidence to support that view. Yet it is in our connection to the divine where our passion lives. And that brings me back to trust. I trust that every person on this planet is God in form doing the best they can, given the circumstances of their lives. I trust in the inherent goodness of people, even though sometimes I have felt taken advantage of, even used and abused. The truth is, in my darkest days, I did my share of using and abusing, though I always reserved the most damaging abuse for myself.
But that was then, and now I know better. Now I make other choices. I have largely forgiven myself for the poor choices I made earlier in my life. I realize that every day I have the opportunity to make new choices, more loving choices, choices that serve my vision of living in a world where every single person feels safe, loved and celebrated. When I remember to trust, even in small things such as finding a parking space, it works out every time. When circumstances don't turn out the way I think they should, I look for the gifts in the experience and I always find plenty. Always. I don't know of a more powerful spiritual practice than learning to trust. Have you trusted today?
Steve Ryals, author of Drunk with Wonder: Awakening to the God Within went from homeless and shooting drugs in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district at 17 to graduating from UC Berkeley on the Dean's List six years later.
Drunk with Wonder was written, edited and designed with almost no help from fossil fuels. Steve is proud to say that Drunk with Wonder is printed on 60# Thor Offset acid-free, recycled paper with soy-based ink. Drunk with Wonder is the culmination of years of research and decades of personal experience.It's been hailed as where "Conversations with God meets What the Bleep Do we Know?"
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