Guest Author - Linda J. Paul
The meanings of the words trust, belief and faith are essentially the same according to the Thesaurus:
"Absolute certainty in the trustworthiness of another, belief, confidence, dependence, reliance, trust."
But, are these three words really synonymous with one another? This may be true in a general sense of the meaning of the words, but what about the spiritual meaning?
We are not born into this world with trust, belief or faith. We learn all three of these concepts from our parents, the culture in which we are raised, and by our desire to explore different aspects of spirituality in the world around us.
To me, trust would be the first concept that is learned as an infant. An infant is not born with an understanding that the person who is feeding it is “special”. Food and comfort come from many different sources and as long as the infant is receiving what it needs to survive, it will grow and blossom. And, in order to grow and blossom to the fullest extent possible, that infant will learn to trust. In time, the infant begins to recognize certain voices, the touch of a certain hand, or the smell of a certain body.
And, the infant begins to relate the feeling of comfort to a certain object or action. When it sees a bottle, it gets excited, or it learns to cry, not from the instinctive need for food, but to bring it companionship. Trust has been established. The growing child has learned that certain people are “special” and can be trusted.
At this stage of the game, the child starts to believe whatever his primary caretakers tell him. His world revolves around his family and their beliefs. If he is told that Santa, or the Easter Bunny or God or Allah exist, he believes this to be “truth”. He trusts what his teachers, both academic and religious are teaching him.
Belief is the next concept that comes into play. When a child begins to mingle with her peers, she is exposed to concepts of belief which may be in conflict with those she has learned to trust within her family experience. These beliefs and concepts may cause her to question the existence of Santa, the Easter Bunny, God or Allah. And, in turn she may learn to place her trust in someone or something else outside of her family circle. This naturally leads to the understanding that someone she trusted may not have been entirely truthful concerning the existence of a belief that she had been taught was “truth”. She learns that Santa and the Easter Bunny do not exist. Now, she must determine if anything else she has been told about spirituality and religion is true. She must determine whether to believe without concrete proof that someone or something really exists.
The ability to believe without concrete proof leads into faith. Faith is the ability to believe with heart and soul that something unseen and intangible exists. It is the trust and belief one places on the teachings of a specific book or a specific person or persons. Faith can also be an understanding that the teachings of specific books or specific people are not relevant to one's spiritual journey. Faith is an individual decision based on who and where a person stands on their journey. Everyone has faith in something, even if it is the Earth we live upon or even faith in oneself.
But, I also think that perhaps we go through the phases of trust, belief and faith more than once in our lifetimes. Sometimes trust, belief and faith are shaken to their very roots, and replaced by very different concepts and ideas.
Trust, belief and faith are basic building blocks of our lives. And, we all use those blocks to construct who we are in very creative and unique ways. Diversity makes the world go round.
Love and Light…