Love, Gratitude, or Trust: Which Is More Important?

Trust Comes First

I have been on crutches for the last three weeks. It hasn’t been much fun. It certainly hasn’t made my life easy. I had a meniscus surgery on my right knee last June, then probably reinjured it by doing too much too soon. The stress of trying to be my very active self these last months caused micro fractures in the bones of the knee joint. So now my strict order is no weight bearing for a full month to actually let my knee heal. Then, in a couple more weeks I will get another MRI to gauge the healing and see if I am ready to walk.

I help my knee by not walking on it right now. I help by sending positive, healing energy to my knee. But I help the most by trusting in God, a power and love greater than my body or mind. In this time on crutches, I find myself constantly facing the biggest choice life has to offer: do I depend upon my own will and strength, or do I depend on the highest source of power in the universe?

When I sit and meditate, I realize this is a moment by moment decision. One moment I trust God, and put my whole life (and my knee) in greater hands than mine. That moment I sit in peace. The next moment I’m planning out my day or my life as if there is only me to depend upon. I’m no longer at peace. Then I remember to trust and let go. Again peace. What if my knee doesn’t heal and I still can’t walk? Agitation. There is a divine plan working for my highest good and happiness. Again peace.

To Trust or Not to Trust is a Choice

Trust. Not trust. Trust. Not trust. The human free will tries to insert its dominion. Trust in a higher power is the most difficult thing to sustain, and the most important thing to sustain. I can’t see angels, but I trust they are there helping me every step of my journey.

In our Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon, we start out the first morning with trust. Since we have everyone together for the first hour of the morning session, including children of every age, we need to also make that hour lively and fun. The whole point is to encourage trust, and to challenge everyone to start with what is most important … trust. We say to the group, “None of us knows what will happen this week, but let’s trust that it will be good.”

We include simple trust exercises like having each child or adult take turns standing in the center of a small group, close their eyes and fall against the hands of their group, hands that will always catch them and keep them safe. Then we do a “trust walk,” where each person takes turns closing their eyes and is led on an adventure by one partner with eyes open.

Closing eyes is a powerful way to learn to trust in both exercises. Too often, with your eyes open, you become too much in control. Closing your eyes gives you an opportunity to trust in something greater than your own little control. It’s surprising how many people can’t keep their eyes closed in these two exercises. Is it possible to trust what you cannot see? Joyce and I believe so.

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Love, Gratitude, or Trust: Which Is More Important?

You may ask, “What about love? Isn’t that more important than trust?” Without trusting in the Divine, love becomes something you do from your personal self. Love without trust is small love.

After Joyce and I got married, since our religious difference had brought so much sadness and pain into our lives, we decided to throw it all out. We thought we could be happy with just our personal love for each other. How wrong we were. We didn’t just throw out religion, we also threw out spirituality, the foundation of religion. It was like we were drinking from a cup without refilling it.

Without trust in a God greater than religion, our cup of love ran dry, and we found ourselves in real trouble. Thankfully, with lots of help from spiritual teachers, we found our way back to trust, which allowed us to refill our cup of love.

Gratitude is a very powerful practice. But like love, gratitude without trust is “small” gratitude. It is saying thank you without really meaning it. Without trusting that your every need is provided for, gratitude is hollow.

When you trust the Divine Beingness, gratitude follows naturally and effortlessly. In those moments when I trust that my knee is being restored by the greatest healing energy in the universe, all I can do is give thanks.

Trusting in Something Greater Than Ourselves

Trust requires childlike innocence. It’s a knowing that our Mother-Father God is taking care of our every need, every moment of our lives. True, this has not been the case with our earthly parents, where we may have felt misunderstood, neglected, abandoned, or even abused. Many of us, like me, have decided we can only depend upon ourselves, that we can never depend upon anyone else. Turning to complete self-reliance, however, completely ignores our dependence upon the Divine.

Joyce and I are blessed to have our daughter, Rami, and her four-year-old son, Skye, living right on our property. We spend as much time with our grandson as possible. His innocence opens our hearts. But his trust in us is a constant reminder for us to trust in God. When he’s hungry, he can simply announce it and know there will always be food for him. He doesn’t have to keep track of the snot hanging down from one of his nostrils. A tissue magically appears in front of his nose, and he hears the word “blow.”

When I make up a story involving the simplest of props, his trust allows him to become completely immersed in the story. It can, and has, gone on for hours, or so it seems to me, the one who keeps track of the time. But for Skye, his childlike trust transcends time. He lives in the story, becomes the story, knowing I will take care of all his needs, and he can become lost in play. It won’t always be this way. Gradually he is learning self-responsibility, but I pray that he also learns to trust God, so that self-responsibility becomes secondary to trust.

I pray the same for all of us!

Barry Vissell is the co-author of the book:

A Mother’s Final Gift: How One Woman’s Courageous Dying Transformed Her Family
by Joyce and Barry Vissell.

A Mother's Final Gift by Joyce & Barry Vissell.The story of one courageous woman Louise Viola Swanson Wollenberg and of her tremendous love of life and family, and her faith and resolve. But it is also the story of her equally courageous family who, in the process of rising to the occasion and carrying out Louise s long-held final wishes, not only overcame so many stigmas about the process of death but, at the same time, rediscovered what it means to celebrate life itself.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book.

About the Author(s)

Joyce & Barry VissellJoyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors, near Santa Cruz CA, who are passionate about conscious relationship and personal-spiritual growth. They are widely regarded as among the world's top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. Joye & Barry are the authors of 9 books, including The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk To Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant To Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift. Call 831-684-2299 for further information on counseling sessions by phone/video, online, or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.


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