look at those people who have put their trust in you and ask yourself if you are worthy of this honor.
“She’s the first woman I trusted,” I confessed. And it was true. For most of my grown life I had not fully trusted women, including my mother or sisters. I know it stemmed from a bad relationship when I was younger. That first heartbreak. And it caused me to do things that would ensure that I would be the one breaking the heart, or destroying the relationship, before it would happen to me again. But this young woman was different.
I remember sitting with her on the crooked stoop of her studio apartment. Our neighbors were out in the courtyard, as they often were, drinking and laughing. We lived in a place of broken hearts and budding dreams. The perfect place for me to heal from yet another relationship I had destroyed. In fact, it was really two relationships. It wasn’t the prettiest of places, just the perfect place to rest and restore my soul. I had nothing left in me to go and look for somewhere nicer. Good thing. She lived there.
I don’t know what it was that made me trust her. It could have been her smile, or the way she listened but watched the world around her as if my words didn’t really matter. I told her things, things I had trouble admitting to my therapist at the time. And she listened while still drinking and laughing with the rest. And when it was her turn to talk, her words would pierce my heart – poking holes in the darkest of places to let the light in.
When we started dating, I let her into my most intimate of secrets. Then for my birthday, she threw me a surprise party. One might see it as a betrayal of my trust because she had to lie (or really hide the truth from me) in order to make it happen. For some reason, I loved her more and trusted her more for it. I can’t explain it beyond trust is irrational at times.
When I knew we were going to get married, I confessed my most protected fears. I shared my story and told her of my true calling – something I had kept to myself for decades. She didn’t run. And that made me love her and trust her more. So, by the time we moved into our first house, having our first of three kids, I trusted her more than I trusted my own breath. She has lived up to this in every way.
This week I was privy to a conversation between two women in the park; one asking the other, “Who do you trust?” I have no idea what lead to this question or how her friend answered. But it got me thinking about my relationship with trust and with my wife.
Many people trust our current president more than they trust themselves. Just the same others distrust the man for a variety of reasons. For example, he is constantly sowing seeds of doubt in our ability to trust our government, or media, or one another. And does so simply by telling his sycophants to “Trust me.”
But here’s the thing, his words are vague, at best, because time and time again he has proven himself to be untrustworthy. As of today, it has been reported that Trump has stated over 52,000 lies or mistruths in the last five years since they started counting. His trust in social media has given us well recorded documents of this. This is alarming if you trust the sources who have been fact checking him. And ammunition for those who put their trust elsewhere.
Without a shred of proof or anything to back up his claims, Trump has asked us to trust him when he says he has a better health plan, or that he loves the environment more than anyone else. And let’s not forget “Trust me, this virus will be gone by Easter.” Those who trust him do so believing he isn’t lying but is optimistic about a better way forward. Those who don’t trust him only see these faithful followers as gullible fools.
As the old saying goes, words matter. They say something about the person speaking them.
In a recent article in USA Today, Cindy L. Otis reported, “The reality we must contend with is that the insurrection was the result of a massive, five-year disinformation campaign waged by Trump and his supporters who have weaponized lies, conspiracies, and the reach of social media to gain and attempt to hold onto his power and to distort reality.”
The problem with putting our trust in a person is knowing for sure if that person is trustworthy or not. There are simple ways to check this. The easiest and most important one is by asking yourself, do their words and actions align? If they say they are going to show up and don’t, then what does that say?
Trust is important on so many levels. I need to trust if the surgeon about to operate on the tumor in my throat knows what he is doing. I need to trust that the person I gave a deposit to do some work on my house will show up the next day to do the work. I need to trust in the law and legal system in case he doesn’t. So let me ask you the question I was privy to in the park. “Who do you trust?”
As a kid I went to a school where they pride themselves on forcing kids to battle it out with sword drills – the memorization of bible passages; book, chapter and verse. This allowed us to look like we knew the bible, without having to know the context in which it was written. I have no idea if this was the first one, or just the one that stuck with me, but it’s been my go-to verse in shaping my faith. It’s a proverb that states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not into your own understanding. In all ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”
Trust God. I can’t tell you how hard this was for me. I knew God. I loved God. I wanted to be closer to God. But trusting God was difficult because I didn’t trust myself, or those in my life. But here’s what I learned after a hard life of doing it my way. Unlike so many women that I ran from, cheated on, or betrayed, God never did any of that.
In spite of all the reasons I have given to God not to trust me, God remained faithful to a fault. I can’t say this about my job as a minister any more than I could say it when I was a copywriter. I can’t say that about my government or even the institutions put in place to keep them honest. And yet, I know God remains trustworthy because God has remained faithful to me.
What does this say to our own faithfulness be it to God or one another?
“Who do you trust?” is a great question to ask yourself. And one we should ask frequently. You can begin by looking around your circle, taking inventory of your friends, family and community to see whose words match their actions. Another way to approach it might be to look at those people who have put their trust in you – your spouse, your kids, your boss, your co-workers – and ask yourself if you are worthy of this honor.
The answer may or may not surprise you, but I believe it’s a worthy exercise if only to help you better understand yourself. Believe me, you can trust me on that.
*There is just so much to talk about on this subject. This is just one small aspect of a much larger picture.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”