When I was a child, the practice of faith meant dressing up in one of my ruffly dresses, memorizing bible verses, washing graham crackers down with Kool-Aid during Sunday school, and learning the stories of the King James Bible. As I grew older, I started questioning all of the stories and beliefs that I had been taught, and cracks appeared in my faith. Over the years, the cracks grew into fissures, and then the fissures widened into chasms, until nothing seemed to be left of my childhood faith. Perhaps this was part of my growing awareness that I could, and perhaps should, question the world around me. I began to realize that some of my faith was based on dogma that no longer held a place in my life.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, faith is “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” In other words, true faith is blind faith, our belief in something that perhaps we have been told is a truism, a belief often imposed upon us by our parents, teachers, the larger adult world, and mass consciousness, or faith in those things that simply resonate with us personally. As we develop, grow, and take on other mass consciousness beliefs, we often question those ideas and ideals that sometimes seem to make no sense — empty rules, guidelines, and even societal rules. This is a natural and very important part of our human development. Often our faith is replaced by trust. While faith requires one to believe in something without evidence, trust is different.
The definition of trust is “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something one in which confidence is placed.” Trust requires some sort of proof or assurance that something can be believed. Perhaps trust is more experiential. Perhaps it just feels more comfortable
I have been using these words — trust and faith — interchangeably for years, not realizing that they were very different. I have said I have faith that the moon will rise every night in my starry sky, that I have faith that the tides will roll in and roll out every day, and that when I rise every morning there will be enough air to breathe. Perhaps this is because they have done so for millennia or perhaps it is because I simply never thought to question whether my faith in these things is reasonable or well-placed. I have said I have faith that my dog will nudge me awake at five every morning, without a need for an alarm clock, and faith that my friends will rally round in a time of need. In looking at the definitions of these words, I realize that I do not have faith in these events. I trust in their truths, because I have been shown evidence that they will occur. I have both proof and history that show me that the moon will rise in the night sky, and that tides will continue to ebb and flow. I have repeated verification that my friends are steadfast and that my morning will begin with a dog jumping on my chest and licking my face because these moments have happened repeatedly
Faith requires a leap into a vast unknown, with no evidence that there will be a place to land. Trust requires a leap, but with the helping hand of proof to guide you to that place. Since looking at the difference in the definitions of faith and trust, I now prefer trust. I trust that people are more often good than bad, because I have seen evidence of this time after time. I trust that the people I love can do the hard things before them because I have seen their strength. I trust that the world is full of amazing miracles, not boxed in by dogma or doctrine, because the proof lies all around us
Yet faith in those unproven or unseen things, ideas, and beliefs should also be a part of our life experience. We can’t navigate our life experience requiring proof of everything before we choose to believe in it. But perhaps the “proof” of faith is there — the small voice deep inside us, the whisper of our soul, a deep knowing that carries us through the dark and back into the light when we have wandered away from ourselves. Perhaps faith in our own intuition and inner knowing is our greatest act of trust, because it contains the most basic of all truths and is our lighthouse beacon that has keep us from crashing on the rocks more often than we are likely aware of, time and again
Whether you prefer faith or trust or a blend of both as your own guidance system, a balance of these is likely important in living a discerning and awareness-filled life. In examining which of our beliefs are based on trust and which are based on faith, we become more present in our lives and better able to understand our own actions. Throughout our lives we have experiences of tested faith, replace some of our beliefs with other faith-based ideas, and also have experiences of misplaced and newly-formed trust. We develop new yardsticks to measure whether something is to be believed or trusted. We begin to realize that things we thought were black or white in fact have all the colors of the rainbow. Our evolving process of trust and faith is part of our personal evolution, and is core to the development of our soul selves. We might leave the stories of our childhood behind, while still relying on a healthy balance of both faith and trust.
Copyright 2017, Robyn Jones
About the Author: Robyn Jones is a writer living in the foothills of Colorado. When not writing or blogging, she can be found on the trails with her dogs, digging in her community garden, or with her nose deep in a book. Visit her blog at www.everydayjill.com.