Learning How To Trust

Here in Denver with AmeriCorps NCCC, we have had some opportunities to do some amazing things.  Between the many classes and lectures of CTI (Corps Training Institute) we have had the opportunities to explore Denver and the surrounding areas, hike in Boulder and, this past Friday, experience rock climbing in the safe environment of Rock’n & Jam’n, an indoor climbing facility.   

While everyone was climbing the walls around the facility, a select few of us were on the ground belaying.  After taking a refresher crash-course the evening before, a number of us from each unit got to spend seven hours watching out for our fellow Corps Members safety, tying one another into the ropes and making sure nobody plummeted to the floor. 

One of the biggest things that we learned as we climbed the wall was trust.  Each and every person that was tied into their harness put their safety into the hands of the person on the ground.  We had to trust one another.

It’s not easy to trust one another after we have seen things go horribly wrong.  We all have seen friendships fail, people get hurt, lives become broken.  We see it in our own friends and families and we see it in those around us. 

A number of years ago, I worked at a summer camp in upper state New York, Saranac Village.  In the two summers that I worked there, I saw the courage of hundreds of campers who learned to trust in the hands of others as they traversed the high-ropes course. 

The first summer that I worked there, I worked with a beautiful girl who had to relearn how to trust.  A number of years before, she had a horrible accident on the ropes course, which ended up with her falling and breaking her back in several places.  She was afraid of the ropes course.  She didn’t trust it because each time she saw it, she remembered what happened. 

Some of us are the same way.  We shy away from adventure, from living, because we have been hurt before.  We have seen others get hurt.  We cannot trust others because they are human, and eventually all of us will fail.  We will let someone down.  We will cause pain, either directly or indirectly. 

The beauty of the story is that trust can be gained.  We can relearn how to trust one another, by taking that leap of faith and putting everything we fear on the line.  I saw hundreds of corps members climbing the walls that were afraid.  They feared, but they trusted the ones that held the rope on the other end. 

Each of us needs a little lesson in trusting.  My advice, go to a climbing wall and ask a friend to be your belayer (only if they are trained).  Climb the wall and learn how to trust again. 

You may be wondering about the girl that I worked with all those summers ago;  Her trust came with a pound of grace.  The intern who was working there that summer was the same guy who was working the ropes course that fateful day she fell.  He told the new Summer Staff why safety and paying attention to the surroundings of the course, he shared with them the story of this girl (whom he did not know was working that summer in another part of the camp) who he allowed to fall.  As he was sharing, she was walking by and heard him state that he didn’t think she ever forgave him for his mistake. 

Later that night, she revealed to him who she was and that she never blamed him for his mistake either.  In that month, she gathered the courage and trust to venture out onto the ropes course once again. 

Learning how to trust is one of the hardest things to do.  I don’t have any magical words or phrases that make it all simple.  You learn by putting yourself out there and trusting, no matter how much fear you have. 

God Bless and PEACE

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