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Posted by on March 13, 2013

When a person says, “Trust me” how do you react?

  • Shields up, phasers on STUN
  • guys’ hands sort of slide back into defensive position over wallet
  • gals pull purses into protective mode
  • eyebrows up, eyelids at half-mast
  • “You probably don’t wanna know what happened to the last one said that to me.”

Life gets gritty, doesn’t it?  When somebody says, “Trust me” it’s tough to put a leash on our cynicism.

We’ve all been had a time or two.  That bites.  Come sit down and have some of this just-ground Sumatran medium roast and let’s think about that. . .

Coffee - pourin' fresh

In a few days the Christian world will remember once again when a carpenter’s son-turned-self-styled coach and mentor said, “Trust me.”  That was a little hard to do, considering what we saw didn’t exactly inspire confidence.

No beach condo.  No gated-community-7,000 square footer.  No Beemer.  No bank account.  No guest appearances on Oprah.  No humor about him from Kimmel or Leno.  No military training, and zero respect from the political powerhouse.  Okay, well, that actually might be a plus now.

“Okay.   You don’t even have what I’ve got, but you expect me to trust you?  To listen to you, to drop what work I have and follow you?”  You know where this is going, especially with our earthbound ideas of what constitutes worth and status.  Oh, yeah–in the Church, too.  Don’t look so shocked.

A question or two never hurts:  “What do you mean when you say you want me to trust you?  Can you help me understand what that is for you?  What are you asking me to do?  What do you need from me?”

Ever notice that honest people don’t mind questions?

Tennyson once said, “Trust me not at all, or all in all.”  Trust takes time to build.  And it takes only an unguarded, unwise minute or two to trash.  Trust is not only a two-way deal; it calls for balance.  Trust too much and you get used or abused; trust too little and you live in constant anxiety and torment of spirit.

Trust swings on the hinges of perception.   Others may agree you’re a common nutburger but if I trust you I won’t focus on that, and I won’t treat you like that.  I am making the choice to trust you.   Trust, like so many other relational things, is a matter of personal choice, of my will.  Many an effective school teacher has found this true and has helped create generations of responsible, worthy adults from raw kid material no one else considered usable.

What happens when you do or say something that hurts me and makes you look less trustworthy?  I have a choice.  I can cloud up and rain all over your parade, chastising you for being small and crude and–and human.  I can judge you, assuming its possible to know your motives.  And I can join the posse in shunning you.  After all, if The Posse agrees you’re a jerk and an untrustworthy creep they can’t be wrong, can they?  Truth resides in the group!

We know better.  Five out of six people can call an apple an orange.  “Studies Have Shown” can appear in LED multicolor, but next fall in Washington’s Yakima valley, guess what’s going to be growing on those Yellow Delicious trees ?

The only way for you to demand unlimited, unquestioning trust is if you’ve never had your trust betrayed.  The other extreme?  Some think once they’ve been betrayed they can never trust anybody again.  EVer.

Truth is, trust cannot be valuable until it’s been measured against the reality of betrayal.  How do I know if what was betrayed was what was really there, or what I’d decided in my own mind was there?  Was it real or was it Memorex?

Bulldozing a relationship because of what one perceives is a bad habit.  Perceptions can be just as misplaced as one’s trust.  It’s possible to think someone a friend who’s really an acquaintance.  Or vice versa.  Sometimes one’s best friends go unnoticed because acquaintances create drama and receive all the undeserved press.

What to do?

Honesty always works.  “Is it okay if we start over, here?  Friendship takes time and interest.   I’m willing to accept that and work with you to build (or rebuild!) the necessary trust that ought to attach to two people who are acquainted and working on becoming friends.”

Another option might be, “Know what?  I think you’re expecting a closer friendship from me than I’m prepared right now to give.  I’m not against the idea; I’d just like to grow into it a little slower.”  Time doesn’t always equal closeness.  There’s nothing wrong with being lifelong acquaintances.  Only junior high kids operate under the premise that if we can’t be close friends we have to be sworn enemies.

I repeat:   Only junior high kids operate under the premise that if we can’t be close friends we have to be sworn enemies.  

You’ve heard people wistfully mention someone for whom they pray and of whom they often think who refuses any contact or relationship at all.  It takes two to trust–but the two do not have to have the same amounts in order to begin trusting again.  They just have to start with what they’ve got, and get at it.


Instead of focusing on the things that divide and cause strong emotions, zero in on similarities instead, on the things both have in common.  It’s a fantastic release of pent-up feelings to suddenly remember what it was that brought about that trust in the first place.  What a relief it is!  Suspicion and distrust make strong bars that only imprison oneself.  Be content to stand in the light and let the shadow fall where it will.  In most cases, it will be found to fall somewhere in the middle.

What about if it’s me I can’t trust?  Oh, I mean I can to a point, but what about when I betray myself?  What about when I set a solid, high goal and then hit the wall?  That’s when I need somebody to help me up, brush me off, look me in the eye and tell me, “I believe in you, I love you and I trust you.  Now get back out there, because we all need you!”  And make no mistake:  every one of us needs to be there–exactly right there–for each other.

None of us needs another critic–the sign-up line’s way too long.

“What if I promise and don’t produce?”  Congratulations.  You’re human.  Did you go into the thing thinking, “Know what?  I believe I’ll just sluff off and underachieve!  YEAH!”  Of course not.

I know of very few who actually intend to lose, to blow it, to mess up.  A man is a simpleton if he knows what weakens him and feeds on it anyway.  If that’s the case, knock it off.  You’re weakening you, and because I trust you and believe in you, you’re weakening me.  I need you to be strong for me when I need it so I can be strong for you when you need it.

Okay.  Here comes this week’s challenge.

Remember the woodworking Mentor of whom I spoke earlier?  He told his closest friends, “You all believe in God, right?”  They all looked around and nodded, highfiving and grinning at each other.  “You bet!  Oh, yeah–WOO-HOO!  We beLIEVE!!!!”

His next words sobered ’em up:  “Believe in me, too.”  He said a lot of other stuff as well, but he laid some pretty basic interrelational truth right in the dust at their feet.  He got some frowns and scrinched-up faces.

“How?  You’re barefoot, just like us.  You don’t have the price of a Happy Meal, we’re not even sure where we’re staying tonight, and anyway you’re telling us you’re leaving, so we’re just supposed to believe, to have faith?  How?”

Trust is your choice.  We all get used and it’s no picnic.  But the man who trusts men will make fewer mistakes than the one who distrusts them.  The man who trusts men has a much better go of it in trusting God, too.  You can be accountable without being distrustful and suspicious.  What it all boils down to is that trusting another person–especially after they’ve hurt trust–is a matter of one’s own choice.  And it must be either built or rebuilt in a different manner.

Consider how often God, through Jesus, has started over with you.

Time has amazing therapeutic value; but building or rebuilding trust won’t happen by itself, and the Carpenter says we have to love each other.

A lot of things can be straightened out where love is present.  Trust cannot be built where love is absent.

“Um, are we talking about us trusting Jesus or trusting one another?”

Yup.  And you can all stop trying that “eyebrows-up, eyelids at half-mast” deal.  You look silly.


Loving you,
Dan    (c)


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