by Jennifer Paros
Faith in oneself is the best and safest course.
Several years ago, a social worker named Julio Diaz was mugged
during his subway commute to the Bronx. A teenage boy threatened
him with a knife and Julio gave him his wallet. Then Julio offered
him his coat to keep him warm, and suggested they have dinner
together. The boy questioned him but agreed. They went to a
familiar diner; the mugger took note of how nice Julio was to
everyone, saying, “I didn’t think people actually behaved that
way.” Diaz offered to treat for the meal but said he’d need his
wallet back to do so; the boy returned it without hesitation. Then
he gave the teen twenty dollars and asked that he give him the
knife. And the boy did.
Diaz later said, “I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you
can only hope that they treat you right.”
We are often taught that trust is to be reserved for those
situations or people who present themselves in such a way as to
inspire trust within us – those who have proven themselves
trustworthy. This is an idea that makes a kind of mathematical
sense, but in no way speaks to the greater power of trust, the
tremendous benefits it can garner, and doors it can open.
Julio Diaz acted from trust – but not, necessarily, in the boy whose
behavior was already skewed. He was trusting in his own truth and in
doing so, reversed his robbery and allowed himself to step out of
the role of victim.
Years ago, I was having a rocky time with my oldest son – who has
always been a persistent, strong leader type. We were often locked
in state of mutual stubbornness and because of my husband’s work
schedule, I was the one assisting with homework - homework my son
did not want to be doing. Those were difficult days – the specifics
of which I no longer recall. But what I do remember is how awful I
felt about myself. I got to the point where I was hating who I was
when I was with him, and it was tearing me apart.
Our distrust is very expensive.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I had no active trust in him, our relationship, or me. It had
become about trying to control what was happening; I wanted things
to go a
Illustration by Jennifer Paros - Copyright 2011
certain way so I would feel better. I was forgetting that what
had to get done and how it had to get done were
far from the point. I wanted to be allowing love and I wasn’t.
Eventually I came upon a
book that helped me understand the dynamic from a different angle. I
softened my view on his criminal behavior and on me and began
to see with new eyes. I started putting my faith in a softer
perspective. And the more I backed off from control and leaned on
this gentler view, the more I understood just how trustworthy my son
and I both were.
In writing, we often talk
about the lesson of trust - described as trusting yourself or
trusting the story. It’s the moment in which cerebral
control is set aside for discovery. The energy that originally
compelled the writer to write is allowed the helm, and the writer
goes along for the ride. To the extent that we trust that
intelligent energy, we experience its ability to open doors of new
ideas and experiences.
A little faith will bring your soul to heaven; a great faith will
bring heaven to your soul.
-- Charles Spurgeon
Trust is a soft position -
a position of openness. It marks a turning point in every journey
in which the powers that be become the powers within,
accessed through one’s belief in and reliance on them. There is no
way to witness one’s strength without trusting oneself.
In the children’s classic
The Secret Garden, Collin, erroneously convinced he is a
cripple, must make the decision to trust in what he wants,
rather than what he has previously believed. Without trusting his
personal truth, he can’t trust his legs and will never realize he
can walk. And without trusting our instincts and passions, we can
never know how far they can take us.
Though it seems the
critical, untrusting eye determines our safety, it is
actually the kind eye. The kind eye allows us to see what is
trustworthy in life, as Julio Diaz did, and places our faith there,
relying on something we cannot see but which bears the next best
step, whether for the story we’re writing or the story we’re living.
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Jennifer Paros is a writer,
illustrator, and author of
Violet Bing and the Grand House
(Viking, 2007). She lives in Seattle.
Please visit her website at