A journey from trauma to authenticity

Trust Yourself

As is now my custom, this morning I sat cross-legged by the patio doors and gazed out at the beautiful, vibrant tulips currently gracing our balcony. It has a calming effect on my racing, anxious thoughts, and allows my new friend, Trust Yourself, to find space to sit peacefully beside me.

Trust Yourself has my grandpa’s voice. He used to tell me the same story over and over again. “I felt so inadequate. I’d left school at just 14 years of age. I had so little education. After the war, I was in a University English Literature evening class, studying to be a teacher. The postgraduate lecturer was explaining the meaning of the Windhover poem, by Gerald Manley Hopkins. But I could see a different meaning. In that moment, I knew I could trust myself. Listen to others, ask their advice, hear their opinions, but then always listen to yourself, and make your own mind up. Trust yourself.”

Immediately I start to listen to myself, old friends jostle in, making a huge commotion. “Stop, stop, stop!” the preacher starts in commandingly. “You mustn’t trust yourself. You are a fallen sinner. You don’t know what’s best for you, or your family. You must trust in Jesus, and His Word, the Bible. You must be humble, and submit to our teaching. The Bible is the infallible word of God. You cannot question it. Especially as you are a girl. Eve took the fruit you know. She was deceived by the serpent. Women are easily deceived and misled. They cannot correctly interpret the Holy Scriptures. That is why leadership is male. Women are emotional and weak. You must beware of your selfish desires. If you really have a question, you can ask the male head of your household to explain it to you. But really you just need to listen to Jesus and obey.”

I now think there is so much wrong with this speech I am actually lost for words. Argument is futile. I am a woman. Anything I respond with is not to be trusted because I am Eve. The important thing is I no longer accept any of this as truth for myself.

So, I turn back to Trust Yourself, and return to my contemplative sit. I listen to my body, and notice where the tension is today, and what it is saying to me. I gaze at the resplendent orange of the tulip in awe. And I believe my deepest, truest self is awesome too.


The Christianity I grew up in, taught me that believing and trusting in Jesus meant not believing in or trusting myself. The two were mutually exclusive. In fact, listening to and trusting myself was shameful. Asking questions was doubt, or a lack of faith. Another shameful thing. So, I believed in Jesus, with my whole heart. I really did. I read the books on apologetics and learnt the right answers to the “difficult” questions, without ever asking them. I read the missionary biographies and determined to follow in the footsteps of these giants of the faith. I believed humility meant serving others, without regard for yourself. So, I served in the church as a teenager, went on short mission trips in the holidays, and then went as a long-term missionary doctor. I trusted Jesus to keep me safe and provide for me financially.

To be clear, a lot of these activities were good things to do, and had positive outcomes. The problem was that, in the end, I was pouring from an empty cup, because self-care was non-existent. Worse – I was actively harming myself in some of the decisions I made. I was deliberately putting myself and my family in danger. I thought that providing for myself, caring for myself and protecting myself, was wrong, or showed a lack of faith. And, ultimately, I now realise, it was mostly driven by a desire to be accepted and loved. Because I thought it was wrong to accept and love myself.

Not trusting myself, meant an inability to set healthy boundaries for myself, and an inability to give authentic “yes” and “no” answers. I always said “yes” to anything that was asked of me.  

The Japanese have a ceremony for returning soldiers. They are thanked for their service, and then asked to let that identity go, and return as a citizen, as something beyond a soldier. This is the journey I am on. I am letting go of the servant identity, of the doctor, missionary, or mother identity, and I am returning to myself. I am letting go of allowing other people, Jesus or the Bible to categorically tell me what I ought or ought not to do. I am returning as the person beyond those roles and responsibilities and rigid set of beliefs. I may (or may not) still fulfil some of the same roles, but they will no longer be my identity.

I now understand that humility does not mean blindly believing and serving other people. Humility is having a realistic sense of who I am, appreciating my strengths and aware of my weaknesses and being open to the strengths of others.

It has taken me a long time to come to the realisation that trusting myself is a good thing, a healthy thing. And I can now tell you it is life-giving and soul-restoring. It enables me to feel my emotions and hear my needs and look after myself. It encourages me to be curious and open. It allows me to set some boundaries and show up whole-heartedly. It is an expression of faith that all life is sacred – including my own.


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  3. Lou

    The spark of life within me sees the spark of life within you. Thank you for wholeheartedly sharing with such wisdom, eloquence and tenderness. Although each of our journeys back to the heart is unique, we are on this journey together.

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