The Truth About Trust
The truth about trust hit me square in the face one day about a decade ago. I had been fuming to myself about the repeated judgments of a certain co-worker and how he would regularly lavish his twisted take on whoever was not present. As kind as I had tried to be around him, my turn had finally come. Driving home that day, I was crestfallen. I was part hurt and part frustrated. What was his problem?!
This is when enlightenment fell from Heaven. I heard a voice in my mind ask why I was acting all shocked and mad. Why? I returned. You don’t see why? The voice asked how many times I’d heard of this guy doing this. Ok, many. The voice then asked over how many months or years I’d witnessed this behavior. Ok, several… and…?
As this mental dialogue progressed, my ignorance came shining through. This guy was known to take a swing with his “baseball bat” every time someone rang his doorbell. I’d read it through the grapevine and seen the damage with my own eyes, more than once, yes. Yet without a second thought I had run up the steps to his house with a smile on my face and hopes of having tea. I was the fool.
Trust Is a Choice
Over the next few days I processed how trust is opening up oneself to receive favor. It’s a choice that is made—even if not consciously—and a choice to which the trusting one is held fully responsible. Why had I not figured this out sooner? I was trusting all over the place—without even one thought or intentional question about the person I emotionally embraced.
It all sunk in very fast. Trusting should not happen before the other party has shown over time that they are capable of coming through. Their track record should be the only consideration. And yes, if they exhibited negative behavior, expectations need to be adjusted, and emotional bonding kept in check. It made me think of the Proverb that states how it is out of the heart that all of life flows. What could be worse than opening my heart up to someone with a track record for ill? What could be more devastating than broken trust and a broken heart?
Today, many years of practice later, I am doing quite well. Instead of naively hoping that all the evidence will be wrong this time, I observe a person’s emotional maturity and accept them where they are, making choices accordingly. I size up Mr. Coworker, expect what is evident, and treat him with respect without looking for any kind of goodwill to be returned. Basically, I emotionally adjust to reality and resist opening myself up for something good that will certainly not be given.
The Choice Is Always Ours
What is so huge about all this is that we are only as strong as the people we let into our hearts and lives. And what is so overlooked about all this is that the choice is always ours. Even if you have to share geographical space, this doesn’t mean you have to share your heart. And by the way, if you check out the Bible on trust, you will find it adamant that we are not to trust humans—even ourselves. We are told to trust only God.
I can count on two hands the people I now trust. They, as it turns out, are all people who have given their lives over to God. They are people who have shown over time that they are committed to honoring God’s laws and teachings. So, in the end, I guess I have found the Bible to be right on. Screening those who I trust has got me—even if indirectly—trusting only God. And what a huge relief that has been.
Clarissa Worley Sproul writes from the Pacific Northwest.
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