How do you know that someone is trustworthy? How do you know that God is trustworthy?
This week I was touched by the Second Reading from Hebrews, which shows how Abraham trusted God despite “not knowing where he was to go.” He left the familiarity of his home to venture to a new land where he lived as a stranger. He was a childless old man, so God’s promise of many descendants seemed, well, unlikely. I imagine that this call filled his life with uncertainty and a little chaos, too.
I relate to Abraham’s sense of not knowing where he was going. When there are lots of changes afoot in my life, it feels like chaos, like I’m cartwheeling hand over foot, not knowing where the ground is. Like Abraham, I don’t know where it’s all going. But I want to trust.
As I reflect on my experience of uncertainty, I think about the recent ICE raid in Mississippi, in which agents rounded up almost 700 people, separating families and wreaking fear and turmoil. After hearing that story, I realize that I am, in many ways, talking out of my privilege. Even during times of change, my life is secure. I have the privilege of safety for myself, my community, my family. Many people don’t. How do people without the privilege of security ever trust?
I look back to Abraham, who, like immigrants in the U.S., left his home to seek a hopeful future in a new place. His life was filled with uncertainty. Nevertheless, he trusted because “he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.” He trusted because he somehow knew that God could be trusted.
Trust is not something we just give away will nilly. It’s not something we owe someone or that can be demanded of us. Trust is earned. We should only give it to those who are worthy of it, but how do we know who’s trustworthy?
My wondering brought be back to Brené Brown, one of my wisdom figures. She has a video called “The Anatomy of Trust” that has resonated so deeply with me. I encourage you to watch it. She says that someone is trustworthy when they consistently offer gestures of care, even small, ordinary ones, and when they choose to engage rather than pull away. When they respect our boundaries, show that they’re reliable, and demonstrate integrity, they build trust.
Brené Brown’s description of trust rings true in my relationships with people and with God, too. I trust God because I have experienced that God is trustworthy. God always seeks to engage. I am safe with God. Over and over, God is reliable, God shows up, God is with me even (especially) during hard times.
That seems simple for me, but I wonder how people who live with constant insecurity trust God. Maybe some don’t. Maybe some do because God takes care of them in a special way, and they’ve experienced God, even in crisis. Maybe some people have faith like Abraham, faith that’s “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”
And maybe there's a deeper call here to take care of each other; maybe it's the responsibility of those of us with privilege to be trustworthy neighbors by advocating for people who are vulnerable. Is there some way, through advocacy and service, that we can bring real security to those who don’t have it? Can we change systems? Can we stop oppression? I believe we can. That’s what my faith in things unseen hopes for now: that the God who made a childless old man the father of a nation can help us to turn the U.S. into a peaceful and just nation, a safe place for everyone.
Abraham followed a call from God because he knew that God was trustworthy. I, too, know that God is trustworthy. When life shows its chaotic side, and I feel like I am hand over foot and don’t know where the ground is, God is my safe place to land. God is my grounding and the Ground of All Being.
I’ll leave you with a song that seems fitting: “A Safe Place to Land” by Sara Bareilles with John Legend.
I hope for safe places to land for you and for our most vulnerable neighbors, too. And, when there’s not a safe place, I hope we can create one together.
If you’d like to get involved in advocacy and service, here are just a few organizations to get you started:
Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, http://ijpccincinnati.org/programs/immigration/
Heartfelt Tidbits, https://www.heartfelttidbits.com/
Immigrant Justice Now, https://www.immigrantjusticenow.org/
By Sister Leslie
Sister Leslie Keener, CDP is the director of God Space, a community-building spirituality ministry in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. She’s a Sister of Divine Providence with a Masters in Ministry and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction and Retreats from Creighton University. She directs retreats, meets with people for spiritual direction, and serves as the vocation director for her community. She also serves on the Coordinating Council of Spiritual Directors International. She enjoys music, meaningful conversations, and dancing.