Having confidence that you can get healthy is key to moving your healing forward. It enables you to do the hard work necessary and supports your body’s own healing efforts in ways we are just beginning to understand. I know that, for me, believing in my ability to heal was the foundation for taking charge of my life and getting my health back. In my upcoming book, Everyday Healing, an entire chapter explores how to develop that confidence.
The chapter also acknowledges that encouraging people to believe that they can heal begs the question of how to integrate the reality that bad things do happen into that confidence. We all know people who have taken charge, worked hard and still not gotten the health outcomes they wanted. It can be heartbreaking. How do you accept that reality and believe in your own ability to heal at the same time? I’ve found that the most successfully optimistic people bolster their confidence in the future with a deep sense of trust.
According to one understanding of Mussar, the Jewish path to ethical and spiritual growth, trust (or bitachon in Hebrew) means trusting in God and the universe that all is good right now, even when it doesn’t seem that way. Full disclosure: I’m not there yet. I’m guessing you might not be, either. If a friend is dying of cancer or there is a war going on, I struggle to accept that it is okay and part of a larger, divine plan that I just can’t see. But I do aspire to develop more of that sense of mystery because I know it can help me move through the world with more optimism and less fear.
For those of us who are not fully enlightened Mussar practitioners, here are some beginner levels of trust where we can start:
- Even when things do not appear to be for the good, they may be for the good eventually.
- Even if things do not turn out as we want, between our own resources and the support of the Divine, nature, and those around us, we have what we need to get through anything.
The two stories that follow can help to discern what that really means.
The director of an antipoverty organization spent an entire year convincing a philanthropist to donate $85,000 to his organization so he could build a new computer lab for vocational training. After a year of negotiating, it seemed like the deal was sealed. That’s when the philanthropist withdrew with no explanation. The organization director was a man of deep faith and, instead of railing against the philanthropist, his immediate response was, “Thank God!” He explained that clearly that donor was not the right person to establish this important program and that the right person would come along soon. Two weeks later, an elderly woman who admired the organization’s work passed away, and left the organization $80,000.
I was the fund-raising consultant who had been partially responsible for setting up the original $85,000 donation. Suffice to say that my reaction was not “Thank God!” when I heard the donor had backed out. It was something far less printable here. The director’s reaction rocked my world. How different would my life be if I could respond to every seeming setback with “Thank God!” and the faith that through my own hard work and the support of the universe, it would work out in the end? If I could react to every new situation with that sense of trust instead of the anxiety that often ruled my thoughts, my life would be radically different.
The Strange Sabbath
A man once visited a small town on the Sabbath. He had been told that the local synagogue was a friendly place that welcomed guests with honored roles during the service and a delicious lunch afterwards. But he was disappointed. Instead of receiving an honor during the service himself, he was ignored while all the honored roles were given to several rough, unkempt men in the back of the synagogue. After the service, several platters of beautiful food were brought out for lunch, but were quickly returned to the kitchen, and the man was offered nothing to eat.
The man was dismayed that the synagogue was so different from what he had expected. He asked a member what was going on and was told, “The men you saw have been falsely imprisoned for years and the congregation has worked hard to free them. We are celebrating their release, which just happened yesterday. We also have a tradition of contributing all the food from our lunch to a home for the elderly once a month. So, on those Sabbaths, we bring the platters out so that we can see what a lovely feast we are sending to them, but we all eat at home instead.” (This story is adapted from a version in Everyday Holiness by Alan Morinis. The story was originally told by the Chofetz Chaim, a leading rabbi and Mussar teacher in the early 20th century.)
It takes a sense of mystery and a dose of humility to trust that all will be well and that we don’t always have the whole picture. That trust, in turn, can enable us to approach every situation with a much more optimistic attitude. From handling rain at a picnic to integrating the news of a serious illness, developing trust enables you to be more expansive and less fearful in every area of your life. It’s not an easy shift to make, but it is well worth trying.
How much trust do you have in your life? Would you like to develop more? Are you open to developing the sense of mystery and humility it takes to get there?
I’d love to hear what you think! Comment below or email me at Janette@HealforRealNow.com
To Health and Joy,