Life Lessons, Parenting

That Tough Little 5 Letter Word: Trust

“How do I know what’s right?” my daughter whispered, twisting the tissue in her hand. “What if I make the wrong decision?” 

Our eyes locked. Tears of indecision swelled and spilled down her cheeks. I felt a river of protectiveness flood me, the same river that rushed over me when she was born. No one prepares you for the impact of mother love and the visceral need to protect your kids. Now—seventeen years into the parenting journey—the feeling crests again as I witnessed her despair.

She’s not in danger. She’s simply growing up. Suddenly she’s seeing how complicated life can be. Things that once felt straight-forward have become more complex. Part of me longs to shield her and whisk her back to when mama knew best. But her life’s her own now. 

She’s on the edge of the nest, ready to fly.

That feels a bit foreign to all of us. 

Parenting kids through times of doubt and worry is hard. It’s difficult to admit there aren’t always clear answers. That, in fact, many situations are murky and “what ifs” can haunt the hallways of our decisions. I’m afraid to admit I have no idea how life will turn out for her…or for us. 

I swallowed the lump my throat and assured her what she feels is normal. Big decisions prompt big questions. It’s part of the process.

“Having doubts means you’re taking this seriously,” I said. “Honestly, that’s how adulthood feels. Sometimes there isn’t a clear choice. Things aren’t black and white. But you do the best you can. Go with what seems right. And if it doesn’t work, you make adjustments. Just trust there is a process happening. Trust you’ll make the right decision.”

Then I heard my words. They were meant for her, but I needed to hear them. 

  • Trust the process. 
  • Do the best you can. 
  • Make adjustments if needed.
  • Trust.

Funny how I’m preaching this to my daughter and it’s still hard for me. Even though the grooves in my life path are more worn down than hers, trusting the process is still a constant challenge for me. You, too?

It’s easy to forget we’re all works in progress. We may aim towards a certain outcome—a degree or job or goal—but how we get there isn’t predictable; it’s a process. Life flows around us and we bump along. Bump. Bump. Bump.

Sometimes we smoothly navigate through and hit the mark, but more often we swerve into somewhere unplanned. Trusting the process means letting go and accepting the detour. That’s the part that trips me.

At the beginning of the year, I chose Trust as my intention word. I jokingly told a friend I’m trying to trust trust. But this is hard! Harder still, I’m trying to encourage my daughter’s trust in her process of decision making. I want her to know we believe she’ll find her way even when life’s waves move her off course.

After tears are dried and her tension softens, my daughter feels better. Still uncertain, but better. I’m reminded how much both of my daughters teach me each day. Even though they are teenagers, I learn more about myself and motherhood though them than I ever imagined. They’ve been my greatest teachers on this unpredictable, bumpy ride. 

I don’t have answers, just thoughts from bouncing down the profusely pot-holed roads of my own life. But I vow, once again, to keep working toward trusting the process. Doing the best I can. Making changes when I’ve screwed up or it isn’t working.

And trust. Always trust.

Questions to consider…
1. Have you ever given another advice you needed to hear? What was it?
2. Do you struggle with trust? How does that look for you.
3. When has ‘trusting the process’ provided a better outcome than you imagined? 
4. Have you used intention words before? Select something you’d like to bring toward you, such as acceptance, love, strength, joy or forgiveness. Use it as a focus for journaling, meditation or prayer. Notice how it presents itself, challenges or changes you in the coming year.

The next session of my 4-week online course, Clear Your Blocks, Find Your Voice begins January 28. Hop over to my courses page for details!

3 thoughts on “That Tough Little 5 Letter Word: Trust”

  1. Peggy Palmersheim says:

    That’s beautiful Katie. And very wise!

  2. Thomas Palmersheim says:

    Oh my, you are now facing that difficult time of life. Remember how you felt the same at that time in your life. It isn’t easy being a parent. But it is so wonderful.

    1. Katie O'Connell says:

      I often think of the many challenges we weathered together. I can’t imagine how overwhelming it must have felt to be a “single dad” during those years. We made it! Quite a few extra bumps and bruises, but the fact we’re still around and strong is a lesson in itself! Love you!

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