Relinquishing control into the hands of someone we believe to know better. This is trust. And when the someone knows infinitely better, we call it faith.
That acquiescence is what appealed to me. That someone would take care of the things I did not know how to handle. So I understand why we reach out. If an infinite supply of help exists, how can we not request it?
I requested it by crying out to God – as loudly as an obedient Midwesterner would – while lying beside a stranger in a dorm room in South Dakota. Because – as I have told others to point of exhaustion – I was once a college freshman who grew up a Mennonite and found himself in bed with someone who, also, was naked and buzzed.
That story is a boring one as it is not any different from other stories like it. An inexperienced younger meets an experienced older. The experienced older presents a possibility which scares the inexperienced younger. To which the inexperienced younger will dive headlong into it, going down one path of life, or, they will timidly back away from it, pushing them down another.
Down that latter path, nothing happens, as it did that night. So the interesting part of my story did not occur in or around anyone’s loins, but between my ears, in whatever part of my brain is capable of producing faith. There, while in a single bed above plastic partitions holding makeup and curling irons and pens and pencils, with the experienced one waiting for the next thing to happen in the normal course of hookups, I went searching for someone to trust.
I called out, as every single thing who was evolved to the point where they can seek meaning outside of their material existence, has called out. I drew water from a well which seemed too deep to draw from myself. I did so in earnest, for the first time in my life, and felt I heard an answer from someone who would lift the pail up for me. Sensing that guiding hand, I had the confidence to tell the person next me I had to get up early the next morning.
“I just have to go,” I said after she had taken my pants off but before anything down there could be useful.
Now, what I, a college freshman, had to get up early on a Saturday morning for, I do not know. I was not a dairy farmer – though I did attend a land-grant university in the Midwest – I was just a boy who did not want to spend rest of his life with someone he would never love. That is just what I envisioned.
Her response a grunt, though not a disappointed one, just a disbelieving one. Then I left, out of her room and up the stairs pulling up my pants, now with someone very powerful on my side. It was creator of everything in the universe that ever was. It had intervened on my behalf. And that was such a reassuring feeling I spent the next five years of my life trying to recreate it.
I used those years telling others I wanted a relationship with Him. I wanted to know Him better. With His help, I wanted to guide others to Him so they might also be with Him after they die in a place of eternal happiness. In reality, what I trusted in Him for, at my deepest unspoken level, and even sometimes at a spoken one to people I trusted most, was to have a wife.
There are no statistics measuring these things. But those like myself – those who had always dreamed about being married to The One – simply had to trust in something bigger to have any hope. Our desire had been made finding The One into such an unattainable thing it was no longer something we could manage on our own.
I no longer have faith, though I cannot lie now. I still like the idea of having something bigger than myself with whom I can trust. Because, even as I write this, I am scared I will die alone. I am scared I will never be able to support a wife and children because I cannot do math. And I am scared my writing, which I have tried for years to make into something, will never materialize. So I am scared I will forever bounce from average job to below average job and back again. I’m scared of those things. Sometimes, to the point of exhaustion, when all I can do is lie down and hope the feeling passes through.
Though, even when that happens, I no longer call upon something I cannot see or touch or feel or hear to help me make my next choice in life. And even if I did, I would not call doing so having trust. I would not even call it faith. That has a better name, one I know just as well.
This is what we call fear.