In religious circles, “trust talk” most often revolves around having faith that life will look after us. For instance, our Christian friends sing hymns about God “watching over us” and keeping “an eye on the sparrow.” Our Jewish friends lift up the Exodus story to encourage faith that God will help us make our way even when things look bleak. Likewise, prayer practice for our Muslim friends is al about reminding oneself that you are in Allah’s safe hands. We UUs translate similar sentiments using the language of trusting “a Love that will not let us go.”

This call to trust Life’s support comes to us as a gift. After all, it’s all too easy tthat life is a foe. So we need our faith communities to restore our faith that life is ultimately a friend. We need the reassurance. We need to know that when we fall we can count of being picked up.  

But what about being pushed? Don’t we need to count on that too? A Love that won’t let us go is essential, but isn’t it just as important to have faith in a Love that won’t let us get too comfortable? Especially as we welcome in Black History Month, we certainly don’t want to forget about a Love that disturbs. We need a Love that promises to not let privilege remain hidden, and unsettles those who have it. A Love that tells those of us who are marginalized and tired, “I won’t let your pain be ignored.”

And just when that call to trust seems the one we all need to listen to, another voice adds itself to the mix. This one telling us to trust that it’s not all up to us. That sometimes it’s ok to rest. That doesn’t disturb but instead assures us that we can let go. That tells us to trust that we can – for a while – put the work down because others are ready to pick it up, knowing that we will be there to pick it up when rest calls to them.

So, friends, where does that leave us?

What is it?  

Trust life to pick us up?

Trust life to push and poke us?

Trust that it’s ok to put the work down for a while?

It is all of them, of course. And more.

But maybe it’s mostly about trusting that we’ll know which call is right for us. Maybe it’s about having faith in ourselves and not letting anyone tell us what we need to trust.

There’s no one message this month after all. Everyone’s heart is wrestling with a loss of faith in its own way. The trust you need to repair is likely different than mine. What we both long for is safe space. Space to say how hard that work of repair is. Space to say how much it hurts to have to repair it in the first place.

So let’s remember that above all. And prove, this month, that we all can be trusted to offer each other that precious space.

Our Spiritual Exercises

Option A:

Tip Toe Toward Trusting Yourself

Facing our fears takes a whole lot of self-trust. Getting over self-doubt can seem an impossible hurdle. That’s why some advise us to simply “Jump!” “Take a leap of faith,” we’re told. “Go all in!”

But what if the secret path to overcoming our fears and believing in ourselves is not one big leap, but instead a bunch of baby steps? 

This exercise is all about those baby steps. Here’s your challenge in a nutshell:

Identify one of your core fears and then find one small way of facing it.

Or to put it another way:Find one manageable way to build your ‘I believe in myself’ muscle!

Your options are endless.

Fear that you’ll never get in shape? Forget getting back into the gym, just commit yourself to taking an hour long walk every Monday of this month.

Is social anxiety your nemesis? Forget forcing yourself to go to those office parties and just make yourself invite a co-worker or two out for lunch.

Fear of heights? Skip the daring sky-diving trip and simply

Terrified of public speaking? Don’t start by volunteering to do a lay sermon and instead sign up to teach an RE class.

Doubting your courage to pursue that entrepreneurial dream you’ve had for so long? Don’t quit your job and leap in. Instead simply commit to drawing up a business plan for it this month.

Been afraid to stick up for your worth at work and ask for a raise? Don’t boldly walk into your boss’ office just yet. Instead just sit down and write the raise you want on a napkin and carry it around in your pocket all month.

Bottom line: No need to jump into self-trust head first. Just tip toe toward it instead!


Option B:

Test the Trust Formula

Our monthly theme and Valentine’s Day are a perfect fit. Everyone knows that love and trust go hand in hand. But do partners build the trust needed to keep our relationships loving and strong? Psychologist and researcher, John Gottman, claims that our usual answers have it upside down. Common wisdom advises us that it’s dependable grand gestures of love that make the magic happen: surprise romantic getaways or the ability to have “deep conversations.” Gottman objects. He says, “Nope, it’s the small stuff!” Tiny things, like bringing your partner coffee or putting down your phone when they’re talking or remembering that they have a big presentation coming up next week. Gottman has even created a formula: If you average five of these small positive interactions to every one negative or failed one, you are guaranteed a loving and trust-filled relationship!

Sounds too simple, right? Well, this month, you are invited to test it out. Take some time to learn about Gottman’s theory by watching the below videos. Then commit yourself to five of these small gestures a week (or even a day!) and see what happens! 

Note: It works with friendships and other relationships too! So for those of us who are single, consider testing it out with a family member or friend whose relationship you want to deepen or improve.

Videos to Watch:

A Couple Books to Dig Deeper:

  • The Relationship Cure
  • What Makes Love Last?: How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal

Option C:

A Love Letter to Life:

A Daily Reminder Why Life is Trustworthy

Our ability to trust life is related not just to what happens to us but also what we choose to focus on. So this exercise invites us to use intentional focus to strengthen our trust in life. It’s a simple but impactful practice of writing a “love letter to life” at the end of each day. Here’s a link to an article that explains the ritual and its potential:

Try it out for a week or even two. Put your own spin on it. Come to your group ready to share your journey.

Option D:

Find the Call of Trust in Black History Month

February is Black History Month. Issues of trust are woven throughout. How does one trust in a society and systems that have repeatedly broken their promises of freedom and equality? How is trust repaired at a personal level when unacknowledged microaggressions happen over and over? How does one learn to be a trustworthy ally? The list of questions goes on and on.

And maybe the most important question is: “Which is your question?”

Black History Month contains a call for each of us. So as your spiritual exercise, make the time to explore and identify your unique call around racial justice and healing this month. How is Black History Month challenging you to deepen or repair trust? What “trust-work” is it asking of you?

To help you make your way, we’ve put together a list of various resources that address the relationship between racial justice and trust from a number of perspectives. Here’s the link to that document:

Take your time to go through it in any way that is helpful to you. You can engage the entire list. Or just focus on the ones that stick out. Even seek out other resources if you need. The work is one of exposing yourself to the wide terrain and then finding where your trust-work is located on the map.

Option E:

Find Trust in Our Recommended Resources

Our recommended resources are full of wisdom about what it means to be a people of and a person of trust. Engaging these resources and finding the one that especially speaks to you is a spiritual practice in and of itself.

So, if none of the above exercises call to you, engage the recommended resources section of this packet as your spiritual exercise for the month.

Set aside some regular time throughout a week to go through them and meditate on them until you find the one that most expands or deepens your understanding of trust. After you’ve found it, consider printing it out and carrying it with you or pinning it up so you can continue to reflect on it throughout the weeks leading up to your group meeting. Come to your group ready to share where the journey led you.


Your Question

As always, don’t treat these questions like “homework” or try to answer every single one.

Instead, make time to meditate and reflect on the list and then pick the one question

that speaks to you most. The goal is to figure out which question is “yours.”

Which question captures the call of your inner voice? Which one contains “your work”?

What is it trying to get you to notice? Where is it trying to lead you?

  1. Who has taught you the most about risking trust?
  2. What have you trusted since childhood? What have you never lost faith in?
  3. How have you changed your mind about trust?
  4. Are you trusting or ignoring your gut right now?
  5. What would happen if your trusted life enough to let go?
  6. What would happen if you trusted that you are right where you are meant to be? That life is exactly what you need right now
  7. Have you ever been surprised that someone was willing to trust you?
  8. When broken trust left you broken-hearted, what voice in your head or word from a friend helped you pick up the pieces?
  9. Have you ever felt betrayed by your country?
  10. What would it mean to trust people to be who they are rather than what you wish they were?
  11. You’re worried about how this thing in front of you is going to work out. Might it be possible to trust that you will be fine either way?
  12. What have you learned about trusting grief, rather than trying to make it go away?
  13. Has it ever been hard to trust that your children will find their way?
  14. What’s your question? Your question may not be listed above. As always, if the above questions don’t include what life is asking from you, spend the month listening to your days to hear it. Or maybe the question or call you need to hear is waiting in one of the quotes listed below. Consider looking there! 

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