3 Places Where We Must Cultivate Trust in Our Defining Moments
Our defining moments often present us with issues that provoke fear, which paralyzes action. To move through, we must cultivate trust in 3 different places.
This year, I adopted as a mantra the Hebrew word hineini, which literally translates to “here I am.” This is part 4 of a series in which I’ve shared my insights about the meaning of hineini and how it speaks to me as a mantra.
As I explained in Part 1, I understand hineini as a statement of willingness.
In the moments when we are called to step into something bigger than we are, we often don’t feel ready. I chose hineini as a mantra to remind myself, in these moments, that
You don’t have to be ready, you just have to be willing.
In Part 2, I shared 3 things we must be willing to do to step into our calling: Listen, Trust, and Act.
In Part 3, I explored the topic of Hineini Moments, or defining moments. These moments often trigger our fear, which paralyzes our actions.
The antidote to fear is faith.
The linchpin of our willingness, therefore, is trust. Without trust, we won’t act.
In this article, I want to dive into the topic of trust. Specifically, I want to illuminate
- 3 issues that arise in our defining moments;
- how they show up in our lives;
- the fears they trigger;
- the truth that lies behind those fears; and
- the specific types of trust we must cultivate to move through the fears.
To be clear, this is not an exhaustive list of issues or fears that arise in our defining moments.
Supplement to this article: Defining Moments Reflection Guide
As a supplement to this article, I created a Defining Moments Reflection Guide. This guide (not a workbook!) summarizes the key elements for each issue, and provides additional material and inquiries to guide your investigation into your fears. As soon as I figure out how to connect it to this post, I’ll offer it here.
In the meantime, I’ll be sending it out to my entire subscriber list as a free gift, so subscribe and get on the list.
3 Places Where We Must Cultivate Trust
As I shared in Part 2, hineini appears three times in the biblical story of the Binding of Isaac. In these three mentions, I see three different issues that arise in our personal Hineini Moments, or defining moments.
- incomplete information
- conflicting paths
- painful challenges
Every defining moment involves at least one of these issues, and many involve all three. Each of them triggers different fears and requires a different type of “trust muscle” to counter it.
Let’s dig in!
(1) Incomplete Information
God’s initial instructions to Abraham were vague. He told him to:
go to the land of Moriah … [to] one of the mountains which I shall say to you.
Despite the lack of some crucial information, Abraham set out on his journey without asking any questions. When Isaac asked him where they would get the sheep for the sacrifice, Abraham replied that God would take care of it.
Whether they originate with a call from the Divine, from a boss, or from a mentor extending an invitation, our Hineini Moments typically do not come with a road map, and directions. Sometimes, like Abraham, we don’t even receive the destination.
How it Shows Up in Life
Imagine some of the questions you would have if you received the instructions that Abraham received:
- When will you tell me which mountain?
- How do I get there, especially if I don’t know where I’m going?
- How long will it take to get there?
- What will the weather be like?
- Will there be parking?
- What do I need to bring with me?
How often have you asked these or similar questions before committing to go somewhere or do something?
I see this often in my real estate practice. Some clients want to know where the market is headed and all the rules of a building before they commit to a purchase or sale. Much of the “information” they seek is rarely relevant to the factors most relevant to their outcome: is this home a good fit for what you desire? Does it have what you need right now? You can’t plan for every eventuality. And the truth is that you don’t know what life will bring you.
When we feel we are in a situation of incomplete information, we often do more research and ask others for their input and advice. Rather than helping, this often keeps us more stuck.
What’s the Fear?
Incomplete information triggers the fear of failure. We fear that without complete information, we will make a mistake or “do it wrong.” Embedded in this fear of failure is a fear of following our instinct. We believe that we will find the answers we seek through more research, or by soliciting advice from others.
What’s the Truth?
First, often we don’t actually need to know everything that we think we need to know. Some questions resolve themselves. Others arise only in our minds, but not in reality. Life throws us curveballs that often derail the best-laid plans.
Second, rarely does more information help to move you forward. In fact, science shows that too much information can lead to analysis paralysis. Knowing too much is often the enemy. When we ask everyone else for direction, we weaken the power of our own intuition — our internal GPS.
Third, there are no rules, only experiments. What people say they know is only what they believe worked for them.
Fourth, our fear of incomplete information arises because we are thinking into the future. When we focus on this moment, we realize we have what we need.
Abraham’s response to Isaac teaches us to trust that what we need to know will be revealed to us in time.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
To do this, we must build the “trust muscles” of:
- Patience: Trust that what you truly need to know will be revealed to you in its proper time, and if it isn’t then you didn’t actually need that information.
- Intuition: The best way to get unstuck is to stop asking others what they think. By strengthening our ability to hear our own inner voice, we tap into a deep resource of wisdom.
- Curiosity: When we approach life with a mindset of curiosity and experimentation, we cannot fail. We can only learn and either prove or disprove a hypothesis.
- Mindfulness: Focusing on the present moment, we realize that we have all the information we need for this moment.
* * * * *
(2) Conflicting Paths
God’s command to bring Isaac as a sacrifice seemed to contradict his promise that he would make Abraham into a great nation through Isaac and Isaac’s children. For Abraham the conflict was stark: sacrificing Isaac would foreclose the promise of a great nation through Isaac. This looks more like a setback than progress.
How it Shows Up in Our Lives
Like Abraham, our defining moments may appear to put us on a path whose destination appears in conflict with our target or desired destination.
Often, the conflict isn’t external, but internal: our actions are incongruent with what we say we desire. This might result in acts of self-sabotage, where we unconsciously put barriers in our path to success. We might perceive that the different things we desire are in conflict with each other, and feel stuck in the tension between them. Often in this situation, we are looking at life as a series of bilateral choices — this or that.
What’s the Fear?
On the surface, conflicting paths triggers the fear of deciding, which is really a fear of letting go or a fear of destruction. To decide literally means “to cut off.” We fear destroying something that we worked hard to create, whether it’s a business, relationships, a legacy or a reputation. Inherent in the fear of deciding is also a fear of failure or a fear of success, depending on how we perceive the consequences of our decision.
It may trigger a fear of disappointing others, in a case where we perceive choosing one option would disappoint some people. This fear is in itself is a jumble of fears, involving the fear of destruction — by disappointing others we risk damaging or destroying our relationships with those people — and the fear of rejection. Conflicting paths also triggers a fear of lack; the fear that we won’t have what we need if we choose wrong.
What’s The Truth?
First, what we see as a conflict is often an illusion created by perspective. In any moment, we can only see a narrow slice of a situation; we don’t have access to the complete picture over time. What looks today like a divergent path requiring a choice might only be a different route to the same destination.
Second, progress is often a process of one step forward and two steps backward. The move that seems to pull you away from your desired outcome today often turns into the moment that you moved closer to what you desired.
Third, even if the conflict is real and we must make a choice, the fears we have around the consequences of that decision are all in our minds. We imagine that we might disappoint people or that others might reject us. We don’t know any of this for sure. The fear of rejection is a lack of trust that you will be accepted for who you are. It arises because on some level, you don’t accept yourself for who you are. When you accept yourself for who you are, you no longer fear rejection.
Fourth, the universe is abundant. When we are aligned with our truth, we have what we need.
Fifth, any perceived conflict that results from bilateral thinking emerges only because we are not seeing all available options. There is always another way or another explanation.
Trust that any apparent conflict will be resolved as the bigger picture comes into focus. When you are in alignment with your truth, you cannot make the wrong decision.
This requires that we build the trust muscles of:
- Perspective: Looking through a wider lens to see the bigger picture of our mission and our actions.
- Patience: Taking the long view to see how our calling may play out over time.
- Gratitude: Appreciating what we have helps us cultivate an abundance mindset that negates the fear of lack.
- Alignment: Accepting the truth of who we are, eliminates the risk of rejection and wrong decisions.
- Wisdom: Elevating to a higher level of consciousness allows us to escape the trap of this-or-that thinking and see other options available to us.
* * * * *
(3) Pain and Challenge
God commanded Abraham to sacrifice that which was most precious to him: “your only son Isaac, whom you love.”
How it Shows Up in Our Lives
We often have the illusion that to follow our calling is to travel down a path of ease. After all, if it’s our calling, that means it’s easy and pain free, right? Hardly.
Our defining moments often come packaged in a bundle with pain and challenge.The path to our purpose might require that we destroy or discard something we have worked hard to create or build. Or, it might entail losing a loved one. We often feel like we are the ones sacrificing — either through the sacrifice of our hard work or, more existentially, by giving up the person who we thought we were to step into who we really are.
The moments that become our defining moments are often cloaked in the mask of challenge and painful experiences. Life implodes. Support systems fail. Loved ones die. We might feel overwhelmed. It feels like we are being tested.
What’s the Fear?
Being asked to give up something we love, something we worked hard to create, triggers the fear of loss and the fear of destruction. When we fall into overwhelm, we are in the fear of getting it all done. This triggers the fear of failure and fear of disappointing others that we discussed earlier. We might feel fear of abandonment when facing a loss. And feeling unsupported can trigger a fear of survival; in evolutionary terms, we are wired to seek support because that’s how we survived.
What’s the Truth?
First, the path of our purpose is paved with hardship, by design. Time and again throughout the bible and more modern history, we see that the greatest prophets and agents of change traveled paths of pain and personal struggle on their journeys to carry out their missions. This struggle is what allows us to build strength.
Consider the butterfly: its struggle to emerge from the cocoon is how it builds strength in its wings to fly.
Second, destruction and loss are inevitable at some point. The cycle of creation-maintenance-destruction is one of the fundamental truths of life. Inherent in every act of creation is destruction. It’s only by letting go that we can let something else in.
Third, the gift is in the wound; this is how we build character and empathy. Our pain creates the gateway to our transformation; as we transcend our obstacles we gain the wisdom we need to help others do the same.
Fourth, when we tap into our inner resourcefulness and remember that God loves us, we remember that we have the support we need.
Fifth, although it might feel like a test, the Divine has no need to test. Instead, the circumstances that cause our struggle are proof of our capabilities.
The lesson we learn here is that the hardship we endure on the path is not happening to us; it is happening for us.
We must be willing to trust that every circumstances that causes us pain will fuel our growth. Often, those moments of pain give us what we need to better serve others. When we trust in this, it becomes easier to stay with the pain instead of looking for ways to escape it.
Specifically, we must build the “trust muscles” of:
- Surrender: Be with the experience as it is. Surrender is not about giving up; it’s about the strength of allowing what is without trying to change it.
- Vulnerability: Often, we feel unsupported because we don’t want to ask for help. Vulnerability requires strength. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and ask for help, we give others the opportunity to support us.
- Grace: Gratitude, Respect, Acceptance, Compassion and Empathy. When we receive what life offers with grace, we gain wisdom to transcend our challenges.
- Awareness: Enhancing our awareness of the everyday miracles of life helps us cultivate a deeper faith and trust in that everything happens by design.
- Celebration: When we acknowledge and celebrates our wins, we provide a testimonial to our growth that gives us proof of our capabilities.
* * * * *
Inquiry: Where do you need to cultivate trust?
To be clear, when it comes to willingness to trust, very few people, if any, have a perfect score. Within each category, each of us has areas where we instinctively trust, and areas where we need to cultivate trust.
For example, I often willingly embark on an adventure without knowing all the details in advance, trusting that I’ll figure it out when I need to. But when it comes to my writing, I often hesitate to publish, in fear of how my work will be received.
I cultivate my willingness to trust by challenging myself to publish my writing, even when I don’t feel ready.
Cultivating trust is a continual practice on our path to growth.
Where does trust come easily for you, and where do you need to cultivate a greater willingness to trust? Please share in the comments!