Hope vs. Trust

After a speaking engagement in D.C this past spring, I decided to hop on the train and head to New York. I needed a night in the city with good friends. It had been way too long. I missed the energy of NYC – the feeling of anonymity walking in a crowd of people you know you’ll never see again. No one knows you. No one wants to know you. No one cares about knowing you.  And it’s on those New York City sidewalks where I feel the most myself.



After 36 wonderful hours in the city, I boarded the plane that would return me to my everyday life. I was excited to get back home but in the midst of my joy, I realized I felt a deep sadness. I looked out the window at the shrinking skyscrapers in the distance and had the thought, “What if that was the last time I’ll ever be in New York City? What if that was our final good-bye?”

Even though the thoughts seemed somewhat irrational, they were familiar ideas to me. Anyone who has either directly or indirectly experienced a deep loss would agree that, unfortunately, we have absolutely no clue what will happen in life. In the light of that awareness, we become painfully attentive to the fact that tomorrows are not a guarantee but rather a- “I sure hope so!” And sometimes, after a person has lost something they love so dearly, they also lose the ability to trust.

As the beverage service got underway, I began to ponder the relationship between trust and hope. I wondered, how does a person hope in something that one no longer trusts? Where does hope fit into the trust equation or are the two mutually exclusive?

As I sipped my club soda, I remembered one of Ellie’s favorite children’s books- How Full is Your Bucket? In this beautifully illustrated story, the author tells us that we all have an invisible bucket. When we feel good, our bucket is full and when we feel sad, our bucket is empty. The lesson is in teaching the impact our actions have on other people’s buckets.



Then I wondered, was my bucket full? I’d just had a fantastic trip to two incredible cities with some of my favorite friends so why was I feeling so disproportionately sad to leave? Why was the simple act of the plane taking off towards home enough to turn my bucket upside down and dump out all the good vibes?

And then it hit me. My bucket felt empty because my trust in the certainty that I would one day return to NYC and hopefully be able to bring my kids and show them all the places their dad and I used to love had been drained. I no longer had confidence that all the things I hoped for would one day actually happen. Fifteen years ago, when I was diagnosed with My Cancer, my tomorrow was no longer. My trust in life, shattered.

That sounds so sad, right? What a horrible way to go through life. Or is it?

As I have reemerged from the dark clouds of the shit storm created by My Cancer, I’ve realized that my innocent trust of a hopeful outcome was killed off along with all the deadly cancer cells. But- in the process, a new trust was born and that new trust has been one of trusting what is as opposed to trusting what I hoped would be. And that new trust has, in turn, set me free.

Y’all, I think we may have gotten it backwards cuz I no longer think our buckets are filled with hope only to be tipped over and emptied by a sudden loss of trust. No, my friends, my revelation is this: hope IS the bucket that fully holds the trust. I actually don’t think one can exist without the other. Trust needs hope to contain it and hope needs trust to fill it. All we need to do is loosen our grip on life and tighten our hold on the handle of hope. Who knew?


In love and hope,




PS:  Here’s a picture from yesterday of me and Ellie together in NYC. I guess returning to this city with my daughter was a hope come true


  1. Danielle on November 5, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Beautiful message

  2. Sharman Wilson on November 5, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    What an uplifting message, Neels! Thank you for this. XX Sharm

  3. Catherine Bishop on November 5, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    I needed to read that today! xoxo

  4. Molly Martin Witherington on November 5, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    Beautiful, Caroline. Just lost my momma to the beast that is cancer. But still have peace and hope and joy. They’re marred – yet they’re deeper. Thankful for your voice.

    • Caroline Rose on November 5, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      Molly- I am so very sorry to hear about your amazing mom. Thank you so much for your inspiring words. Your strength and positive outlook are incredibly inspirational. Sending so much love

    • Katie Webb Chilivis on November 5, 2019 at 8:16 pm

      So sorry to hear that Molly. Praying for you and your dad and family.

    • Nance Haney on November 10, 2019 at 3:58 am

      Thank you for your sharing and such insight into that deeper yet life changing opportunity we have in life.

  5. Sabrina on November 5, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    I feel the feels having just returned from India for a second time wondering at how I was visiting a place twice that I had never personally intended to visit.

  6. beth rogers on November 5, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    Love this! And love that pic of the two of you. so sweet

  7. Jennifer Craig Burdette on November 6, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Just LOVE this message and your perspectives!

  8. Courtney Carlisle Bolton on November 7, 2019 at 2:29 am

    THIS. You are so, so inspiring. What a great message.

  9. Lauren on November 11, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    So beautiful and vulnerable…and freeing! Love you, my dear friend! xo

Leave a Comment