Thinking more about faith and trust

Faith and trust are different but also interwoven – so you can say that faith is of the mind and trust comes from the heart. Faith is the willingness to act on a reasonable belief whereas trust uses the heart’s feeling as a guide.

One psychoanalyst speaks of faith as the ability to lie trustfully on the breast…in other words the baby develops from his or her experience the belief that good things can happen…  experiences have been good enough to develop trust in this belief.

It’s easy to see how that can change if the baby is ill-treated or their needs consistently ignored then faith and trust in the good begins to falter. At a recent talk at the Analytic Network the speaker showed a clip from the ‘still face experiment’.It’s quite difficult to watch when the mother presents the unemotional unresponsive face as the baby girl quite quickly is distressed and unsure of what is happening.

As Dr Edward Tronick explains the good can be repaired if the mother then starts to respond again and so the baby recovers, but if this doesn’t happen then the baby’s belief in good becomes increasingly fractured.

So what happens to us in infancy has deep repercussions on the ability to trust others and ultimately God.

One writer suggests that although most ‘pilgrims’ affirm their trust in God generally there is a sort of reservation only a severe testing will disclose. In other words that if events test most of us too hard then a belief kicks in that we will have to rely on ourselves to ‘get out of this mess’. Because complete trust in God implies certainty that whatever happens is in God’s hands, including the issue of life and death. This is difficult for most of us whatever our early experiences, the shadow side of faith is anyway surely doubt. Growing trust is in itself a spiritual achievement but there are past events that hinder this including trauma, teaching to fear God and the power of the ego to surrender.

If our trust can deepen then faith becomes something real built on experience rather than an intellectual assent to things we have read or been told. This sort of faith I guess is the type that can move mountains because it is fed by a deep sense of trust connected with the essence of who one is. This then is a vertical consciousness that is linked to the Source of all creation – not a consciousness or belief that is ‘ours’ in an individual way but rather the connection with all that is and a connection that can lead to a deep sense of trust and life.

One definition of trust is the absence of fear. If we live on the horizontal dimension then fear is inevitable and our companions are anxiety, worry and anger with fear hiding under the anger. If we can somehow live with part of us in touch with the vertical dimension we are in touch with the something that is infinitely greater than our individual selves – connection with the essence of Being. I can only imagine then that such an experience does away with the need for belief or faith.