Practicing the Characteristics: Trust

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]

I have now finished my three weeks of practicing the first characteristic, trust, and thought I’d give a report on how it went. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, the first two weeks were great. I felt as if my trust in God and in the Holy Spirit had deepened considerably. Then last week the ego came at me from a new angle and got me right between the eyes!

After having had that period of trusting and being so peaceful and joyful, I plummeted into anxiety. I realized that that although I trusted our inherent goodness and willingness to serve God, I didn’t trust James and me to actually do what it takes on the earthly plane. The issue–once again–was our financial situation and ability to earn a sufficient income to support us as well as Course Oasis.

Then I came up with a whole list of reasons why I shouldn’t and didn’t trust myself. In the forefront was the fact that I trusted that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me all through the day, but that I didn’t trust myself to hear Him or listen to what He said. I not only didn’t trust myself on the worldly level, but also on the spiritual.

I had a few days of feeling angry and hopeless. Praying and asking the Holy Spirit didn’t seem to help–added proof that I couldn’t be trusted to hear Him. Then I decided to search out passages on trusting ourselves and came upon this:

The Holy Spirit is perfectly trustworthy, as you are. God Himself trusts you, and therefore your trustworthiness is beyond question. It will always remain beyond question, no matter however much you question it. (T-7.X.6:1-3).

I realized that although I thought I was trusting God and His Holy Spirit, I wasn’t really. I couldn’t trust them if I didn’t trust myself, because they were certain that I was “perfectly trustworthy. So, once again, it all came down to “who is right?” (M-11.2:7)… “The Voice That speaks for the Creator of all things, Who knows all things exactly as they are, or a distorted vision of yourself, confused, bewildered, inconsistent and unsure or everything?” (Lesson 186.12:4).

Practicing that helped, but the circumstances of our lives were still weighing on me. One morning as I was journaling, I realized that I was making my trust more dependent on the outer circumstances of my life than on God. If things were going well in our lives, my trust level was high; but if they were shaky, my trust was shaken.

I had just written down some thoughts about what real trust meant when James came in to say he was about to head off to work. I told him that I was worried about our future and was having a crisis of trust. He reminded me of the guidance he had received the day before, guidance that said that he couldn’t serve God well, nor His Sons, if he was concerned with himself and how he performed in his work. This was exactly what our Manual reading had said the week before about self-doubt: “the mistake is always some form of concern with the self to the exclusion of the patient” (M-7.6:1)! James went on to say that his worrying was self-indulgent and he wasn’t going to support it any more.

As he went out the door, I realized that I too was being self-indulgent. I couldn’t be truly helpful if I was placing my own petty concerns first. I had to put serving God first and trust that, in doing so, we would be taken care of. “Okay, God,” I said, “Enough of this,” and that was that. I was back on track.

The ego, knowing my “Achilles heel,” is so quick to jump in and try to shake my trust, and I see that developing trust is going to continue to be an ongoing project!

Now, I’m on to practicing the second characteristic: honesty.