In my younger days I believed that if people broke my trust, then it was not on me; the accountability was on them. I still believe that today, but to be honest with you, after many years of trauma and broken trust I am on a rebuilding journey. Multiple trust breaches wear and tear at you, and if you do not consistently ground yourself in the beauty of the incomprehensible trust of our God, you can fall into the trap of withholding trust from others and even yourself.
This may be a hard pill to swallow, but here are the trust codes my family blessed me with in my formative years:
- Give the trust which I want first, instead of mistrusting first until trust is proven.
- If trust is broken, communicate and give grace again to give an opportunity to restore trust. If it were me, I would want that chance.
- Live trusting. Feed it with an understanding of the trust given to me by God.
- Trust the trust. All people have the capability to give and receive.
- If the relationship ends, trust that there is a deeper reason which I may not know or understand, because humans are wired for trusting relationship and community
- Let go of the temptation for guilt and shame to take root. Therein lie the sprouts of defensiveness.
These trust codes may seem unrealistic to you, and even unsafe. I get it, because we live in a society of deep pain inflicted upon us, teaching us that trust should not be a gift freely given like smiles, hugs or even love. But may I submit to you that in addition to all of this, trust is encapsulated in love, and love is enshrouded by vulnerability.
We can’t truly trust without love and we can’t truly love without vulnerability. Wise Ways Consulting says it this way, “Trust and vulnerability are intertwined. In order to learn to trust each other, individuals must allow themselves to be vulnerable with those same people. Even the simple act of believing that someone will do what they say they will, is making oneself vulnerable and open to the possibility that they may be let down.”
And isn’t that what we all try to avoid? The hurt from being let down and feeling like our wisdom and decision-making process failed? We should have known they would let us down. Yet isn’t that what vulnerability is all about? It’s entering into spaces and relationships God has called us to— without our walls—and giving 100 percent of our heart, with the full understanding and knowledge that giving our heart is love.
To love is to trust, to trust is to be vulnerable, and to be vulnerable is to understand that the other person may choose to honor and reciprocate that gift, or choose the opposite. C.S. Lewis in his book “The Four Loves” states:
“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.”
If I named all the pain living in this world has dished out to us, you would be reading for hours. But here are a few which fall under humanity’s pain load: death, divorce, abuse of all kinds, oppression, slavery, trauma, sexism, racism, economic inequality, patriarchy, police brutality, mass shootings, church hurt, broken friendships, theft and betrayal. These and more have caused us to walk around with raised “porcupine quills,” and if anyone tries to enter into our personal (well defended) spaces, they risk harmful encounters with us. This is not how we ought to live. This kind of life strips our quality of life and the longevity of life.
Please note: I am not speaking about the kinds of harm which would threaten our lives such as abuse, assault, violence, etc. From those, find safety and do the deep work of healing in order for your heart to be open to receive and be vulnerable in safe, God-sent relationships. I am also not suggesting that we discard healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries are what will enable us to be in safe spaces with each other. But for everything else, how can we lay down our quills, discard our shields, and give the best part of ourselves—our vulnerability—to each other?
(to read the full article go to outlookmag.org/trust-love)
Pastor Latoya Hazell-Alcide serves at the Linwood Boulevard Seventh-day Adventist Temple in Kansas City, Missouri.