Trusting in a miracle

What they trust in is fragile; what they rely on is a spider’s web.

Job 8:14

spider webMy six year old grandson and I have been reading Charlotte’s Web together. He’s been fascinated with spiders and spider webs. Their intricate patterns with purpose yet very delicate, destroyed with a falling leaf or sudden gust of wind. At the same time spider’s webs can be deceptively strong, clinging, entangling, difficult to extract oneself from once encountered.

In a recent radio program I heard reported that two-thirds of Americans don’t trust one another. Not only that, they think it’s dangerous to put their trust in someone else. It seems as if we are becoming a society that is grounded less in spirituality and more in consumerism. Trusting tablets, televisions, video games to bring us peace and fill the void. I can’t help but think of these things as spider webs, attractive, clinging, but neither supportive nor life giving but life-taking. And yet in “things we trust.” Or so it would seem as we spend our dollars, thinking this will show our families how much we love them or worse show how much value we have in what we buy.

When I think on the times that I have been most blessed, felt most valued and cherished it has been when someone has placed their trust in me. Trusting me with a confidence, a fear, a shared hope. Opening their heart in my presence and trusting I will hold it with great care. That trust is the most amazing gift I have ever known. And it’s scary, to keep that trust, to want desperately not to fail, to not want to cause harm or betray that trust. But stepping forward boldly and holding that trust with equal vulnerability.

As I reflect on advent this season, I can’t help but think about the miracle of trust. How did Mary trust her experience of the visitation? How did Joseph trust what he had heard? I can only imagine how hard it would have been as they began to share with friends and neighbors. The comments, the gossip, relationships they trusted, tested and perhaps failed. But yet they placed their trust in a higher place and were willing to be vulnerable in sharing that trust. They knew that in being vulnerable one can be hurt. And theirs was not an easy or painless life.

What would our life look like if we placed our trust in God, owning that in the vulnerability of giving our trust to others we will most likely be hurt? But also, we may experience that graced gift of returned trust, acceptance and love, sharing with one another our willingness to be vulnerable and love.

Civil rights leader Vincent Harding recently said in an interview on NPR’s program On Being, “It’s going to be generations before that really comes to fruition. Not just generations, but working generations. Commitment to give ourselves fully and deeply to the task of creating something new, not just assuming that by sitting around the new is going to come. Only as we, strengthened by the grace of God, say there must be something new and we must help to embody it and to create it.”

And that requires trust, the miracle of trusting in the movement of the Holy Spirit, the miracle of trusting in one another and a willingness to see that as strength not the weakness of a spider’s web. As Mary and Joseph waited, they also gave themselves fully, deepening that trust with God and one another. In this time of waiting for the miracle, how have you trusted? Where have you been willing to step boldly, making something new from the gift we were given?

Trusting you on the path,

Anna

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9 thoughts on “Trusting in a miracle

  1. Anna, Just listened to Krista Tippett’s interview with Vince Harding last night. No easy solutions…just one step at a time. Perfect reflection for Advent. Thank you! Nancy

    • It’s a good, yet challenging interview. And you are right, we so want an instant solution, but I think we are planting seeds, tending the soil and trusting, Wishing you a joyful advent.
      Anna

  2. Thank you for this piece Anna, it is so very true, trust is so easily broken, and I think with the tablets, I-phones and social media sites, it makes it that much easier to have trust broken and on a huge scale, which is why cyber bullying is so damaging. The whole world so to speak, is able to see these posts, and fragile young minds can not bear this type of exposure.

    • Kathryn you are so right. The cyber bullying is so hard to counter. Hoping we continue to find ways to be with out youth and love them into the best they can be.

      Advent blessings,
      Anna

  3. Hi Anna,
    I think this is one of your best! A long time ago, when I first began teaching, I had a 4th grade class in a small town near here – and we read Charlotte’s Web. The kids liked it so much that we put on a play- even more fun.

    Hope all is well,
    Denise

    • S. Denise – that must have been wonderful! There’s something wonderful about Charlotte’s Web that calls us to look for beauty and trust as well as believe in miracles!

  4. dearest Anna–trust is the biggest issue for us, our country and our world. Many of us are not aware how easly we break trust by our unconscious and unforgiving behaviors.I have a little handout that helps. Trusting Behavior: Respectful and Disrespectful Behaviors
    Institute for Global Leadership
    210 Park Avenue, #275, Worcester, MA 01609 508-753-4172, http://www.global-leader.org

    Building Trust: RESPECTFUL BEHAVIOR TYPICAL RESPONSES

    An attitude of genuine caring. You establish rapport and a willingness to communicate. You are free to be yourself, dropping any defense mechanisms and facades. You are comfortable expressing your real feelings.

    Active listening (demonstrating interest, drawing people out, being understanding, checking perceptions, and exercising self-control). You communicate, cooperate, and solve problems knowing you have been heard and understood.

    Attacking problems, not people. You focus on solving problems without getting sidetracked by attacking people.

    Leveling and confronting with caring (leveling and confronting from a position of genuine caring with no attempt to devalue another person). You feel at ease to level with people, directly communicating negative issues without being demeaning.

    Honesty You communicate honestly. You free people to listen without having to interpret what you are really saying.

    Trust (assuming the best about people whether they deserve it or not unless to do so would be foolish). You increase the probability that others will act in a trustworthy manner. You free people of the need to manipulate and play games.

    Calmness, patience, and self-control. You simmer or diffuse an emotionally charged climate, allowing people to calm down. You free people to be more objective and less emotional.

    Assertiveness with caring (knowing and expressing opinions, needs, and feelings in a caring and constructive way). You increase the likelihood of people having their needs satisfied and making things happen.

    Reflecting feelings (constructively expressing your feelings or what you believe to be the feelings of others). You help put all parties involved in touch with their real feelings. You communicate their words, so they know their feelings have been recognized.
    Giving specific rather than general feedback. You enable communicators to deal with the real issues so they don’t need to interpret generalizations.

    Using descriptive rather than evaluative verse (describing observations or feelings in a non-judgmental way rather than evaluating the goodness/badness of what a person said or did). You talk about issues without provoking defensiveness or overreactions in others.

    Using “I” messages (messages that describe how you feel or how something has affected you). You are free to express feelings and opinions without passing judgment on another person or making the person feel responsible for your feelings.

    EROSION OF Trust: DISRESPECTFUL BEHAVIOR TYPICAL RESPONSES

    Judging, condemning, advising, instruction, or moralizing from a critical position. You trigger almost all of the inappropriate responses described below and may get a critical response in return.

    Attacking people rather than problems. You provoke anger, resentment, resistance, rebellion, and stubbornness.

    Being autocratic or intimidating. You get temporary results possibly precipitating defensiveness and retaliation.

    Blaming, scapegoating, and belittling. You encourage lying, rationalizing and distortion of the truth.

    Using killer glances (put down looks). You produce guilt and rage.
    Attributing motives to the acts of another person. You stimulate feelings of helplessness and frustration.

    Explaining away the feelings or ideas of others. You suppress ideas or feelings.
    Using value loaded (emotionally charged) words of sarcasm You increase the likelihood of overreactions or misinterpretations.

    Making absolute or exaggerated statements. You undermine credibility. People will often tune you out.

    Overreacting to the words or actions of another person. You blow things out of proportion creating a more explosive atmosphere.

    Sending double messages (verbal and non-verbal messages are different). You reduce the interaction to confusion, mind-reading, and misinterpretations.
    Indifference. You destroy self-confidence, negatively impacting another person’s need for acceptance.

    Not listening. You devalue self-worth so the other person becomes frustrated.

    Nagging You create resistance and hostility.

    Sidetracking. You inhibit problem solving.

    Shotgunning (continuously putting down ideas). You block creativity.

    Negativism You undermine morale.

    Interrogating. You imply lack of trust and presume guilt.

    Stereotyping You facilitate inaccurate perceptions.

    Labeling. You cause resentment and may produce self-fulfilling prophecies.

    Interrupting You instigate frustration and clamming up.

    Source: Unknown
    Adapted by Virginia Swain

  5. sometimes we walk gently and slowly into creating something new. The going softly and slowly is in itself a waiting, a counterpoint to the rushing multi tasking…just doing one thing well, sitting (to do nothing) well creates new ways of being. My Advent times are about listening too, opening to the new (or seeing the old in a fresh perspective)…

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