By Paul Ashton, Psy.D., D.Min.
Consultant to the VIRTUS® Programs
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul, my God, in you I trust.
—Psalm 25: 1,2
Hectic times can be frustrating, especially when you spend your hard earned money on goods and services and end up with results that are far less than you expected as a standard. Conversations with friends and family, sharing and comparing horror stories about these frustrations, can be equally challenging. Whom can you trust? Where can you go?
Online companies have done exceedingly well in providing the answers to exactly these questions. Listings of all kinds of services and professionals are offered along with comments and critiques from actual customers. Such services work well, but there always seems to be someone who was let down and has a horror story about a particular incident. Such is life.
Coping with these daily struggles is often overwhelming. When the going gets rough, though, loved ones often pull us back into the bigger reality that our lives are much more than a chain of unfortunate situations. Sharing our trials, disappointments and difficulties not only lightens our burdens, but also offers us the opportunity to see the bigger picture—that we are loved. Trusting in this message is a big step for many people. Sometimes it takes years to develop and foster, and in many other cases it is just a matter of moments. Children, for example, flourish in the safe arms of their loving parents who protect them from the harsh realities of sharp edges and the elements. A senior immediately feels safe in the hands of a stranger who guides their uneasy steps up a few stairs.
The world operates peacefully each day because of the daily occurrences of billions and billions of random acts of kindness performed by neighbors, strangers, family, friends and loved ones. Without such acts of goodness, the amount of suffering would be immeasurable. The actions of a few persons can disrupt this peace in a matter of moments. Violence, abuse and all other manners of human horror can occur in moments, even by those whom we trust. Such is life.
Where do we go with all of this? Whom can we trust? Placing our lives and fragile emotions in the hands of others is risky, and the process is sometimes difficult, but the rewards of trusting and loving relationships are enormously numerable and far outweigh the risks. God calls us to loving and trusting encounters so we can flourish and thrive in our world as persons who contribute daily to the billions of kind acts that make our world a place of peace and love.
We are held back by fears that our hearts will be broken, and our futures will be bleak and sad. We worry so much about what might happen that we close ourselves off to God's promise to us that He would never fail us; we fail to be present to the moment. We fear for our future and do not trust in God's promise to take care of us and to provide for us no matter what.
The fears of course, are real and we find ourselves doing all that we can in order for our family and us to be safe and secure. Knowing God and understanding His plan for us is placing our trust in Him. Understanding that our lives are nothing without God and that He is the first priority in all of our decisions, allows us to freely live the Beatitude: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).
Using material goods for our benefit and for the good of others is not the same as being a slave to possessing them. The key is learning and living the difference. "Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow. Trust in God is a preparation for the blessedness of the poor. They shall see God" (Catechism, 2547). Our poorness of spirit allows us closeness to God that frees us from the worries of tomorrow, which allows us every ounce of joy imaginable at the present moment. Trust.