Leaning into trust
I find trust to be somewhat ambiguous. It’s hard to nail down. One minute I’m feeling fine and secure, the next I’m anxious and catastrophizing. All it takes is something to change in my circumstances to knock me off balance some days.
I wish it wasn’t so. I wish I felt confident and secure all the time and that my circumstances would not have such sway over my emotions. I imagine if I just understood more of who God is and the incredible depths to which He loves me, I would have no fear. My trust would be perfected and I would lean solely on Him. Yet I’m learning to accept my ‘humanness’. I am not perfect, nor will I be in this life. And that…is…okay. Sometimes trust is believing the things that my head knows but my heart isn’t hearing (or vice versa).
I wonder if one of the reasons we live in this broken world is to learn to ease into trusting: trusting God, trusting others, trusting ourselves. It doesn’t work all the time. Sometimes our trust is broken by others, sometimes we break it ourselves. After these kinds of events the question becomes, will I risk to trust again? We must learn to accept that we are all human and that means we make mistakes, bad choices, and generally screw up (not all the time, but sometimes). So what do we do when that happens? The temptation is to close ourselves off and not trust anyone. We believe this is a way of protecting ourselves. But it doesn’t really work that way. We are wired for connection – we want to feel loved and that we belong. And the way we experience that is in relation to others. So when we close ourselves off from people we are starving a part of ourselves.
At the same time, depending on how badly we’ve been hurt, learning to trust again can be very, very hard. Who wants to put themselves in a place where they’ll be hurt again? It may take baby steps over a long period of time to come to the place of trust again. And there are other cases where the other party has consistently broken trust and the healthy choice is to walk away from the relationship (because remaining in it will only mean continued pain).
Then there are those circumstances beyond our control that wreak havoc on our ability to trust. There are many things we take for granted and when those things are shattered we end up rather gun-shy. I assumed my first husband would be with me until we were old and gray. As that didn’t happen, there are moments (especially when my husband doesn’t arrive home when I think he will) that I get a sick feeling in my stomach that he’s gotten into a car accident and died and that I’ll have to go through the ordeal of losing another husband and enduring the pain all over again. It’s a real joy crusher, I’ll tell you that.
I know there was a time in my life when I was very closed off from everyone. I wouldn’t have put it in those words, but I certainly had trust issues. I don’t think I even trusted myself for I didn’t let myself into the deep, dark recesses of my soul, much less let anyone else. I’m not in that same place now, so what changed for me? After learning how ‘not to trust others’ I started learning to trust as a result of love. It was love expressed to me that was freely given, with no strings attached. And I soaked it up like the dry, parched, thirsty sponge that I was. Looking back I recognize this was dangerous territory for me. I was so desperate for love and connection that I would have done practically anything to get it and keep it, which could have proved disastrous in the hands of a less decent person. The relationship had its faults to be sure (we were both so insecure), but I was generally confident in the other person’s love and care for me. The person? He would become my first husband.
That was a starting point and through the love of others in my life along the way, I have become much more trusting and at peace (generally) than I’ve ever been. When I look back on my journey I see that love has been the springboard for so much positive growth in my life. And love is something we experience predominantly in relation to others. Love is the glue of relationships. And when I speak of “love”, I’m not referring to the gushy feelings one might have. It’s much more solid than that. It is expressed as grace… forgiveness… choosing to look past the other persons’ faults… choosing to do the right thing even when it is the hardest thing. Love takes vulnerability… letting your guard down so the other person can let down theirs. It’s not always easy and sometimes very uncomfortable, even painful, but it is necessary for our well-being and the well-being of those we care about.
God is love. He wants us to experience it in this life. And in experiencing His divine love, we learn how to love others. But it takes trust. Do I actually believe that I am loved (and worthy of love) and that this has absolutely nothing to do with how I perform or what I produce? I know for myself there are times I do not trust that this is true. But for the times when I do ease into that trust, believing that grace is real, I experience much peace and freedom. It is so much easier for me to love others. I am more willing to be vulnerable. And that’s where connection and belonging happen and this great web of relationships we’re a part of is strengthened and blessed.
So I will continue choosing to lean into trust (especially when my negative emotions are hijacking me). And when I get hurt? Some re-adjusting may be in order and I might be tempted to close myself off, but I will choose vulnerability and the path of love. It is where I find true connection and the most fulfillment and joy.