So much goes into trust.

There is the trust you share with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. There’s a mutual trust that must happen between yourself and your children. There also has to be trust sustained between extended family members, friends, and even, to an extent, strangers.

As humans living in an awful messy world, I think the most trust we have to muster is the trust we have in God. We cannot see Him. He cannot hold us and reassure us. He cannot come down and save us as others might when you’re broken down on the side of the road or need to escape an abusive situation. God can sometimes feel like the elusive parent that never shows up for weekend visits, but you always hope that wherever He is, He’s loving you.

That’s trust.

You can trust others, but don’t trust the enemy.

A concept I heard recently on a parenting podcast (I wish I knew which one; I listen to too many) is this: you can trust your husband/wife/teenager to make good choices and honor your relationship, but that doesn’t mean trusting the enemy. It is great if you trust your teenager to maintain moral and social boundaries while online, but that doesn’t mean that the enemy (Satan) will not put inappropriate photos in his or her newsfeed. It is healthy and amazing to trust your spouse not to hide an addiction, participate in an extra-marital relationship, or divide your relationship in other ways, but that doesn’t mean the enemy will not allow the temptation to present itself. You have to have a measure of trust in yourself in many situations, and that doesn’t mean that you should trust that the enemy will honor your own resolve. He won’t. But you can trust that God will.

What Does Trust Look Like?

For many years I understood trust wrongly, in my opinion. I understood trust as something that is blind. I understood trust as something elusive. It was something that was never, ever, reciprocal. The model we’re given in scripture of trust is the most beautiful and the most helpful. Because scripture is because of God, it’s rooted in God, and it’s about God, how we view trust depends on how we view God.

The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

It says, “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

It says, “the Lord is everlasting,” that He is the Creator, He understands more than we could ever fathom, and more (Isaiah 40:28-31).

So, trust, in the Biblical sense, looks a lot like faith. It looks a lot like obedience and continuity. It looks a lot like other-centeredness. Don’t look at yourself, look at God.

Maybe a lot of our own trust issues in our own relationships have a lot to do with us. The scriptures above and so many more show me that a failure to trust in God is often caused by too much trust in ourselves. Could it be that we cannot trust our loved ones because we are looking at ourselves too much?

From a parenting perspective, I fear that if I trust my kids, it will lead to bad choices on their part, and then I will have to deal with it–or worse, it’ll make me look bad. Putting the focus on the boys (yes, I have all boys) will allow me to see what responsibility they can gain from my trusting them. What relationship bonds might form if the trust is offered, what fences might be mended in our future relationship should I trust them now?

I could talk about trusting your spouse in the same way and how it will benefit your relationship, but that will take another post. In the meantime, remember this: we’re all human. You cannot ever trust another human the way you can trust the Lord. It will most certainly lead to heartbreak. Likewise, you cannot trust yourself. All you can do is offer mutual love and respect–and yes, trust–in your human relationships. So that when your kid screws up, they can come to you for a loving response. When your husband or wife screws up, they can confess and forgive and move on.

There is only one way to grow as a family. You can only grow together. If you’re growing apart, you’re not growing.