By Maris Kramer
I was baptized this February, the sole candidate in front of a cathedral full of bodies on the first Sunday of Lent. Much of the experience is a holy blur, but one thing sticks out. In the examination part of the baptismal service, when the bishop asked, “Do you put your whole trust” in Jesus? Complete with skeptical eyebrow raise. Well, I’m not about to be a runaway bride. I say, “I do,” and I’m trying to be honest. And then he signs my Book of Common Prayer, “God is trustworthy.” I’ve been found out.
So I have some trust issues. If someone else makes a mistake, then I could become resentful. So I should just do everything myself! If I make a mistake, I can just sit back and resent good ol' Maris. It’s a really healthy approach to life. And how about romantic relationships? I seem to have discovered that if I don’t remind him to check in for his flight, respond to that email, and set two alarms for the morning, THE WORLD WILL COME CRASHING DOWN. I am, as they say, the worst. Perhaps the best example of the grace and trustworthiness of God is that I have any healthy relationships at all.
Trust is another thing entirely when it relates not to an action but to a belief, a value. It is one thing to entrust someone to review and correct some files before the end of the week. Because as much as I thrive on deadlines and spreadsheets and color-coding, life goes on if others do not. But when I hear my friend say, “He deserves the death penalty for what he did,” how can I possibly trust?
Then, on last month’s pilgrimage through the Holy Land of the Civil Rights Movement, my walking partner said, “I have found it is important to trust first.” If there is anything you have to figure out, figure it out later. The sentence rang like a bell in my heart, clanging against the iron walls that prefer to sound out, “Keep your defenses up.” Trust the person first, without conditions, before data and rhetoric. Where might such openness and candor lead our society? It could usher in a political climate not marked by ignorance or malice and but by a shared understanding that we all want our nation to be better, and that we deeply need one another in order to make that a reality. It could lead us to hearing voices of the poor and broadcasting them with a loudspeaker rather than drowning them out beneath the clamor of budget cuts or, in the case of Georgia Medicaid, refusing funding in the first place.
Where might I be drawn if I trusted my friend’s feeling that “He deserves the death penalty” rather than trying to fix it? Would I come to know fear a little better, and hurt, and grief? Perhaps I could even be led to ask for help from my friends. I could be led to follow God wherever God wants me to go. Wherever. What an incredible thought.