15 June 2010

ruthless trust :: number one

I'm reading the Brennan Manning classic again: Ruthless Trust. This book was my companion during a particularly extended time of difficulty in my life a few years ago. Thumbing through its pages again, I can see the underlines, the brackets, the stars in the margins, and the copious notes filling what was once white space. It is quite nearly a journal of that time. I am filling it again, having learned something about God and myself, and now walking a path where I'm being asked to go deeper, learning even more of the deep wisdom of trust.

The following quotes grabbed me firmly around the soul:

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The basic premise of biblical trust is the conviction that God wants us to grow, to unfold, and to experience fullness of life. However, this kind of trust is acquired only gradually and most often through a series of crises and trials. Through the indescribable anguish on Mount Moriah with his son Isaac, Abraham learned that the God who had called him to hope against hope was eminently reliable and that the only thing expected of him was unconditional trust. The great old man models the essence of trust in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures: to be convinced of the reliability of God.
Page 9

The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise.
Pages 12-13

And that's only from the first chapter.
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If you haven't had a chance yet, I'm now also sharing Ewan and pregnancy-related updates over at the Team Ewan blog, and just generally journaling about this whole process.

And now I'm wondering, dear community of bloggers: When and how have you learned trust? If you're willing to share, I'd love to hear your stories too.

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The latest belly shot:
I would just embed it in the post, but Blogger is being funny about it. And by funny, I mean exceedingly aggravating. So you can view the latest belly shot here.


  1. I learned to trust as I went thru the process of trying to become pregnant for the first time.
    We lost our first pregnancy and I was so broken hearted I could hardly breathe at times. Thru the year of charting, trying, explaining and watching friends "just get pregnant, oops that was easy" I had to learn to trust in my body, in myself, in my husband and in the universe that things would be okay.
    When I let go of expectations (of all of those things listed above) I opened up, I became free and I became a mom.
    When O was born I found trust in that little bundle of skin and bones. The magic that a baby has over you is amazing. He is my joy. I can only imagine how this second little human will burst open my heart even further and alow me to know that everything is right in the world.

  2. I've been thinking about this all day. I don't know when I learned to trust, at least, as much as I do trust. Mirren has brought so much trust, but I think my final answer is just living . . . living day by day has taught me trust.

  3. Oh, Kirsten, I could write volumes about trust. What I'm learning... What was robbed from my children--especially my oldest son--and what/how I'm trying to slowly let him know that trusting is ok. That even if you think it will hurt, it will hurt more if he doesn't...

    I've never read this book... Ruthless Trust. I think it may be next on my reading list.

  4. I think I started to learn trust a few years back when I traveled half-way round the world in the belief that God was calling me there, and then came home and watched everything I'd thought to be deep and certain fall apart.

    I've been learning it more practically the last six months as I've lost the use of a vehicle, watched a dear friend move half-way round the world, lost the apartment I loved and traded it for a horribly awful living situation with a family member, and then finally lost the job that I'd been certain was totally stable. And yet, God met me in that state, and reminded me about the lessons I started learning those years back when life fell apart emotionally, and how they're standing me in good stead now, as I watch the physical realities of day to day life that I'd counted on also disappear. And he's been so faithful in meeting and leading in the midst of these changes of directions... I wrote about them a little bit here http://ofalltheliars.blogspot.com/2010/06/change-in-direction.html

    such a good question - about where did we learn trust. thanks for sharing the quotes from Manning, and posing the question today.

  5. still learning what trust is. just today i was remembering back to a summer i spent at the english l'abri. my big lesson was simply this...learning to rest in the goodness of God. amidst my many questions, despite contradictions and not knowing the end of the story, i began to trust that He is good just a bit more deeply.

    and now here i am too (like vanessa's comment above) greatly desiring motherhood, but not having conceived since our miscarriage/ectopic pregnancy a little over a year ago. so yes...trust. and more specifically...trust that God knows my heartache and is somehow at work beyond what eyes can see. trust that even if His answer lies in contrast to my deepest hopes...that He is still trustworthy. some days are easier than others. this week i echoed psalm 130 in my hoping, waiting, expecting, and learning still more trust. my prayers are with you, james & baby ewan.

    "I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
    my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

    O Israel, hope in the LORD!
    For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
    and with him is plentiful redemption."

  6. Vanessa
    Thanks for sharing your story. Though for different reasons, I too know what it is to walk a path with difficulty, only to have those around you skip down the same path with such ease. I love to hear how Mr. O has opened your heart, and look forward to seeing what new places little Deuce opens up.

    It's so true -- while (like Manning says) crises and trials do much to form our trust, it need not be all that dramatic. It can be the every day, even the mundane. I love that sweet Mirren has taught you so much in that regard.

    Oh, Karin ... I'm sure you could. I'm sure you could write volumes on the topic, truly. And to teach to trust when there are such great wounds that need healing ... you are such an amazing mother. I love seeing the love you have for your children, teaching them and showing them the way of love & of trust.

    And yes, Manning is definitely a must-read!! This is one that will be with me for all my earthly life, I imagine.

    Oh, Lisa. Such a story ... and still unfolding at that. That is just so, so much to walk through -- to know God is leading you, but to experience such heartache in the midst of that too. There's another quote in this first chapter that speaks to me and maybe it will speak to your story as well. Quoting the psychologist Gerald May, Manning writes: "I know that God is loving and that God's loving is trustworthy. I know this directly, through the experience of my life. There have been plenty of times of doubt, especially when I used to believe that trusting God's goodness meant I would not be hurt. But having been hurt quite a bit, I know God's goodness goes deeper than all pleasure and pain -- it embraces both."

    I love hearing and seeing how He has been faithful to you in those times. It's such a gift to be able to see that when it hurts, when it's dark, and when things are turning out not at all like you wanted or expected.

    Truly, thank you for sharing your story.

    Sweet, sweet Elly. Still learning describes me perfectly as well. My heart breaks every time I think of you and the hope for a little one of your own, to have that experience of carrying a baby ... to have that hope in your hands, and then to watch it fall through. It is such a good and right desire, it boggles my mind at times why so many wonderful people I know experience so much heartache when all they want to do is to welcome a child into their hearts and homes.

    But I think you're right ... about His answer, and your hopes ... how there's some veiled and unseen good at work, and that knowing this is much easier some days than others.

    Psalm 130, oh dear. It's so apropos that you bring up a Psalm dripping with Wait on the Lord. I've been thinking so much about that, what it means to wait on the Lord ... those words seem to follow me.

    Thank you for sharing your heart, Beth, and thank you for your prayers for sweet baby Ewan.

    Truly, thank you for sharing your hearts and your stories. You teach me so much, and bless me beyond words.

  7. I'm still learning to trust, but this year has brought a deeper trust.

    ..This year I have watched everyone around me become pregnant. Something I've been hoping for for the last seven years. As each one announced their pregnancies one by one, I felt my heart breaking. ..Not because I wasn't happy for them, but because it pointed to my loss.

    But through what I have experienced this year I have learned that God's grace is truly sufficient for me. He gives me joy for those who welcome their babies into the world, he gives me strength when I'm ready to crumble and he gives me hope when I shouldn't have any.

    When people used to quote "God's grace is sufficient," secretly I would cringe and not fully believe, but now I know it is true. ..Not easy, but true. And I know I can trust him.

  8. Kirsten - thanks for sharing that additional quote. I love it. And yes, it has been in some of the darkest times that God has shown himself most faithful and trustworthy, but also in some of the simplest, most beautiful times too.


  9. "...the desert of the present moment." wow, i love that. i have read parts of ruthless trust this past year, and i think i'll return to it.

    when did i learn to trust? i don't think i have, at least not in the sense of it being a historical reality. i learn to trust over and over again through the little ways God lets me know that he's there, and then i forget and get anxious and have to learn all over again. (i'm a little dense about these things.)

    incidentally, i was looking over the early days of my blog and it was so good to find you there and remember how lucky i was to find you. :)

  10. Tea
    That is so difficult (as if I need to tell you). Though it's different circumstances, I felt the same way about being single. All my friends around me were getting married and starting families and there I was at 31, still unattached with zero prospects. Though it's not the same thing as not being able to have a baby, I think I understand some small piece of the hurt and wondering that can come with that.

    To be able the welcome of pregnancies and new babies with joy in the midst of your own heartache is truly a grace and a gift of God. I'm so glad you shared this; I know He is good and has such amazing plans for you!!

    Isn't that amazing? Reminds me of Elijah when he was hiding on the side of the mountain. God was not in the earthquake or the thunderstorm, but in the gentle whispering breeze. It can be so easy to miss Him and what He's about at times!!

    Greetings from another who will be in the process of learning trust until her earthly death! And yes, I love that "desert of the present moment" phrase. It so works. And I'm so glad that He's as gentle as He is with us.

    I remember those early days -- it was around Christmas time and before I knew it, I couldn't remember a time when Terri wasn't a part of my life.

  11. Thanks for your understanding, Kirsten. Since this is something I've had to face alone, it is always special when someone acknowledges that it is hard. I do feel like people who are longing for marriage understand a lot of these feelings. Marriage and children are things God placed in the core of our hearts as people, so when those things are missing it can hurt really bad.

    I do have to be honest though, I don't feel like I'm really at a place where I am able to welcome pregnancies with joy. Pretty much every time I see a pregnant belly it feels like it is pointing at me and saying, Loser. I am happy for expecting couples, for the special blessing they are receiving, but sometimes it is hard to move past my own pain.(I feel like all of that sounds so horrible.) Still, God has helped me to be able to go to the hospital to see various people's babies after they're born and have much joy in that, for the parents and the baby and the beauty of it all. And God is teaching me through all of this, so, one step at a time.

    I don't mean to go on and on, but I did want to thank you and to try to be honest about where I am. And thank you for sharing your own story. I feel blessed to follow along with you.