My son was unemployed and temporarily living with us. He had completed a four-year degree program at a Montreal university and then spent a year at Taiwan University to master the Mandarin language, and now he was ready to face the working world. Only the working world did not seem to be opening any doors for him and he was faced with the age-old Catch 22, whereby he needed to get a job in order to have the work experience that all the companies were requiring in order for him to get the job that would give him the experience, et cetera, et cetera.
Enter good old Dad with buckets full of advice as to how to write a résumé, prepare for job interviews, and follow up afterwards in order to get more referrals. I typed up pages of information for him to read, surfed the web for local consultants who could coach him, and shared with him the wisdom of my experience.
The more I did this, the more frustrated my son seemed to become, but I mistook this for frustration with his situation and so I intensified my efforts. I was overwrought with the fear that he would never find a job and spend the rest of his life under our roof. News items regarding the weak economy and the numbers of young people who could not find work added to my anxiety and sent me into a frenzy of “helpfulness.” I thought I was helping to dig him out of the hole he was in, when in fact I was merely shovelling more dirt on top of him.
Whenever he struggled with a challenge in the past, I would simply sit down and listen to him as he shared his vulnerabilities and offer him my understanding and acceptance. Ultimately he would face his fear or hurt and learn to accept himself, thus growing up emotionally and growing out of the problem. But the inspiration to respond in that manner never occurred to me this time, as I was convinced that only a specific result could save him.
After six months of trying to make something happen, I realized that I had been acting from fear and so was viewing my son as a victim. I also noticed how tense I had been, a typical signal in me that I was trying to make life conform to my plan. I relaxed into the process of accepting my anxiety and letting myself fall into the heart of the discomfort. Suddenly a sense of trust enveloped me, and with that trust came a recognition of my son’s essence. No longer a victim, he came into view as a magnificent being in that young man’s body.
Within a few days of this experience, my son decided to strike out on his own and explore options in other cities, eventually ending up in Edmonton and finding gainful employment. At the time of this writing, he is in the field of work he truly enjoys, and I have learned once again that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trusting.
Trust is difficult to describe. It often seems to be confused with “faith,” but I see faith as a blind belief fuelled by one’s hopes, dreams, or needs, which can exist without any practical experience to support it. Faith seems to be something with which one can live for a lifetime without ever actually verifying that the faith is pointing one to the Truth.
Trust is something else. For one thing, it has never been something that I could merely take on, but rather a peaceful experience into which I grew. Trust has nothing to do with being right, and is not connected to any belief whatsoever. In my life, trust has been a peaceful acceptance of what is intuitively sensed as a “knowing,” a recognition of what is, as part of this awesome event we call “life.”
When you trust, you sense the invisible hand of purpose moving behind all that happens and relax into the flow it creates, even if the flow seems somewhat bumpy on the surface. Unlike faith, trust is not blind. It is peacefully comforting because it lifts you out of the turbulence of judgment, doubt, and anxiety, and places you in the warm current of acceptance and an intuitive knowing that allows you to truly see.
When I trust my son, I see the magnificence of a being in a human body, moving from one life experience to another. I am not worried about him or anxious about what the future may hold, but rather I recognize how life is putting the pieces together for him, moment by moment, a perfect design to suit his purpose and unique life experience.
When entangled in doubt, I try to make something happen, whereas when I fall back into the arms of trust, I get a front-row seat to watch the amazing design of life unfold.