Trust. A five letter word that dictates everything we do in our lives. As infants, we trust those who care for us to keep us out of harm’s way. We trust that they will shield us from things that are too hot, too sharp, too messy, too dangerous and too explosive. We are in their arms and we feel safe.
As we get older, we learn to trust our instincts. We learn that our gut can often tell us when danger is lurking in the shadows or around the corner. If you are an avid NCIS fan, you may often refer to this as the “Gibbs gut” but in truth, we all have the same gut sensors. Trust is something that while it is often earned, it is often freely given.
When we hit our middle school years, we trust in our teachers, our families, our friends, and our acquaintances. Unfortunately, this is a time when bullies begin surfacing harder than ever. The need for acceptance, along with major hormonal shifts make it more difficult to navigate those years into something that is smooth sailing.
Then we reach high school. There is a different level of trust that occurs. As kids, we are able to gain more independence with getting our driver’s license and going to camps that help form us as strong pillars in our community. We are excited about the changes and we strive to mark those milestones in our lives with the trust of those around us. The same joys and heartbreaks that are a part of life, are now embedded within our trust that everything will be okay. As students, we don’t anticipate someone shooting us like the massacres that have occurred in recent years. Yet, it’s a viable threat that looms in the back of our minds. The peer pressures that mount become almost unbearable and we don’t always trust ourselves to make good choices.
Values and morals have shifted dramatically over the years. The family unit was once a time when parents and children congregated around the table for family dinners. Conversations were had with each other about things happening in their lives. There was a core bond and trust that had been established. Today, the dynamics have shifted. Yes, dinners are still happening but most of the time, technology and activities have invaded that space. We trust the technology more than we do our own ability to take things and enjoy them. Many people only use board games when the power is out and they are bored. There are always exceptions to this and if you are among those exceptions, you are among the few.
Even our currency states “In God We Trust”. How accurate is this? The church and state debate is so hot that even on our hottest days, we can’t begin to understand why different groups are so opposed to the idea of God. Trust is a two-way street. As Christians, we are expected to live to a higher standard and yet where is the hypocrisy in this? We are told to “Trust God” and yet so many of us claim to but we trust in mankind more than we trust in his will. The Bible tells us to “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness” and yet, we are so mesmerized by trying to get ahead that we aren’t trusting our relationship with God.
When the twelve boys and their coach were trapped in the cave in Thailand, prayers were sent from around the world. There was one fatality from a Navy Seal in Thailand who made it possible for those young men to survive. I don’t know what his religious beliefs were if any, but chances are high that he was a Buddhist. He believed that he was doing the right thing. He trusted his instincts and he took comfort knowing that he was sacrificing for a greater purpose. An interesting tidbit I learned about Buddhism. Many Buddhists don’t consider it as a religion, but rather as a journey within one’s soul. I suppose the argument could be made that Christianity is a little like this too. To me, it’s irrelevant what someone believes. I know in my heart what’s right for me and I’m trusting that God is carrying me through the storms I encounter.
Our relationships with one another are based on trust. If we can’t trust the actions of our partner, then we have no relationship. Now, I don’t mean if you’re married, or seriously involved if your partner lies, don’t just throw in the towel. I just mean that without trust, everything is questionable. You may feel as if you need to do everything yourself and that you can’t depend on someone else. When I was married, my husband destroyed my trust. He didn’t want me to touch anything that was his so when I cleaned I had to put his clothes on top of drawers because he didn’t want me going in them. He didn’t want me to know secrets and yet his behavior started the distrust of that relationship. We started our marriage off on a lie. Examples: Before we married, he came to see me at school one night with his then best friend. He placed a key in my hand and told me it was to our new home. Afterward, he then said “psych”. Not long after this, four months before our wedding. He had told me that he had a little over $25,000 that we could use toward a home. Not once in a million years did I know that this was a lie. About two months before the wedding, he came to see me at work and told me that the money was put in a trust fund for his niece and I was never to mention it again. I was angry. It wasn’t about the money. It was about the fact that he made a decision of this caliber that affected our future. It was about the fact that he didn’t trust me enough to be honest with me. The truth was that he never had the money. He lied from the get-go. He was embarrassed and I could have cared less if he had money or not. It was the point of the matter that made me feel like I wasn’t worthy of being told the truth. In spite of the distrust, I forgave him.
Eventually, we divorced, we each told our set of lies and the marriage was beyond repair. I had trusted him even when he gave me a reason not to. I had made the decision to walk away after I lost a child and it became evident that my husband didn’t respect me enough to take care of me or our child. The night of my miscarriage, I knew I had not only lost my baby but my marriage as well. I had never felt so empty and alone in all my life. I started blaming God. I had trusted in everything but God yet God was the one thing I could blame because I didn’t see him. My heart was so broken that I couldn’t even begin to pick up pieces. All I could see was my ex-husband moving on, having a baby that I had wanted and getting the life I thought I should have had. I couldn’t see that God was preparing me for a different journey.
Over time, I have learned wounds do heal. But the scars never dissipate. In fact, the scars can be so pronounced that often we forget to let go of the pain and trust that things will get better. In my case, I have to trust that God took the things that I lost in order to give me a much stronger foundation. What I thought I wanted was not what I needed. As I look at the couples who are keeping their marriages together and being blessed with children, my heart is happy for them and yet full of an emptiness. I try not to dwell on the things that happened but rather acknowledge them and move forward. I’m a little odd. I trust men more than I do women. In my life, women have been catty and been the first to betray my trust. Profiling? Maybe. But every person has their own experiences. Personally, I’d rather have a true friend than one that will abuse my friendship and trust in the long run.
After my marriage fell apart, I went to work for a nonprofit and everything was going well until it wasn’t. It was almost like God knew that my Dad was about to die so they downsized and I got laid off of work, My father was diagnosed with an incurable form of brain cancer, and I dropped my life to take care of him and I would do it all again if given the opportunity. To this day, I’m told by recruiters that while what I did for my father was the right thing personally, it killed me professionally. Nevertheless, I trusted in both God and in my gut. There is no doubt in my mind that it was the right decision and for any potential employers out there, if someone dropping their life to take care of a loved one is not qualities that you seek in a person, then I hope and pray none of you are ever faced with anything of that nature in your own lives. It’s not a fun feeling but it is a personal experience that translates into our professional lives. If someone is willing to do this for someone they love, then imagine the kind of heart and passion they have for an employer.
Since these things occurred, I’ve had so-called friends drop in and out of my life. As long as I would provide money for them I would hear from them. Then things would change. I trusted the people in my life because I considered them to be a part of my family. Many of these folks were down on their luck and didn’t have jobs. I didn’t have the money to bail them out and yet I used my credit card to help them when they needed it. Have I seen anything back from most of them? Nope. I guess you can say I learned my lesson. Trust comes with a price. It’s a very empty feeling when people drop out of your life for reasons that they don’t tell you about. I don’t know about the rest of you but I flunked mind reading 101.
I use these examples not to grumble or complain but rather to educate. How can what happened to me help you? It’s very easy to tell someone to trust in God but it’s a whole different concept to apply that advice. It’s also easy to tell someone to trust their gut but when peer pressure becomes an issue, trusting one’s gut can also mean having the gut pushed aside to further someone else’s agenda.
Trust is something that is not only earned but there are levels of trust. If we as a society are going to start to heal, then we must learn to trust that we don’t have all the answers. We must continue to seek answers and guidance from the resources we have available to us. Research everything. Don’t assume. Lean on faith, listen for God and each other. Most importantly, don’t forget to trust your head and your heart. Sometimes, those things teach us more than a textbook ever could. Be good to each other this week.