By Joyce and Barry Vissell –
Imagine if we could completely trust that we are guided, protected, and completely loved by an unseen higher power, that all that happens is a gift bringing us closer to God and our angels. I imagine that life would be peaceful and joyful.
This complete trust is not easy for anyone. I started a practice to help me with this. Every day, I thank God for each opportunity to trust. Lately, a lot of these opportunities have been coming up, and it’s a challenge for me to remember to trust.
One year ago, I was driving Barry to his appointment for a partial knee replacement. This is no small surgery, and we were both nervous. Being medically trained, we’re always aware of the things that can go wrong. While driving, I mentioned to Barry that I wanted to give thanks for this opportunity to trust whatever happened on this day. I hoped I could see each event in the day as part of the gift of trusting, and he agreed.
We were a few minutes late for the 6 am appointment, so while I parked the car, Barry left to go inside. As he was walking away, I called after him, “Remember, I want to say a prayer for you right before surgery.” Barry thanked me and went through the door. I quickly parked the car and rushed inside. Barry was gone. As soon as he walked in the door they rushed him into the pre-op room. The woman behind the desk handed me a bunch of papers, and had me fill them out. As soon as I brought them back, I urgently said, “I really need to be with my husband. It’s important that I say a prayer for him right before he goes into surgery.”
“Yes, of course,” she said, “Just wait over there.” My desire was so strong for Barry to hear my prayer right before his surgery, that after 10 minutes I again went up and asked the woman behind the desk. “Yes, yes, just have a seat and we’ll call you.”
Forty-five minutes went by, and finally I was called. I practically ran into his room. He looked up at me with blurry drug-induced eyes, and could barely mumble. I questioned the anesthesiologist standing by him, who said, “Oh, we already started the anesthesia.” She then handed me another form to sign, and while I was signing it for Barry, they whisked him away. “What about my prayer for him,” I said as I went running after his stretcher. By the time I caught up, Barry was unconscious, and they slid him into the operating room and closed the door.
I returned to the car deeply disappointed. I had wanted to say a heartfelt prayer for Barry, and it was vitally important to me that he heard the prayer before the surgery. On the verge of tears, I remembered that I had told him that no matter what happened this day, we were going to trust. This was the place to start. I said my prayer for Barry out loud in the car, and I felt thankful for this opportunity to trust, even though it hadn’t gone the way I wanted.
The following months held other opportunities for trusting. He had an allergic reaction to every anti-inflammatory drug he took, and could hardly eat for weeks, losing much weight and strength. He also couldn’t tolerate pain medications. Throughout all of this we practiced trusting.
Now, one year later, Barry can walk without any pain. All the hardship of the surgery and recovery made him even more compassionate than he already was, and brought the two of us closer than we’ve ever been. We have greater appreciation of our remaining time and health.
Thanking God for every opportunity to trust is a powerful practice. This year has brought a loss of an important relationship in our lives. This isn’t something that we ever wanted, or could have foreseen, and it’s been very painful. Yet even in the midst of the pain I am reminded of this practice. Maybe we don’t understand something, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t give thanks for the opportunity to trust. It is gratitude that opens the door to a deeper trust.
I read about a woman who had to be evacuated from her home quickly since there was a massive fire racing toward her neighborhood. As she was fleeing from her home, she looked back, and saw the fire bearing down upon each home in her neighborhood. This woman was also practicing giving thanks for opportunities to trust. In her car, she gave thanks to God aloud for giving her this opportunity to practice full trust. She then drove away, and assumed her home of 25 years would be gone for good. Two days later she received a call from the fire department. By a complete miracle her home was the only one still standing! Nothing was disturbed by the fire. Was this just a random coincidence, or was this due to her act of complete thankfulness and trust? No one will ever know of course, yet for that woman, her trust was greatly deepened.
Things are never going to go just the way we want them. Friends can betray us, illnesses can come, accidents can happen, and any number of other painful things. The act of giving thanks for each opportunity to trust can see us through the most difficult of times, help to bring peace, and remind us that we are all here on the earth to learn, love, help others, and remember to trust.
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of many inspirational books.
Call 831-684-2299, or write to the Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings, or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their website at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.