How Valuable is Trust?

January 27, 2010

“Mike, she has lied to me too many times. I just can’t trust her any more – I can’t do it!” He kept twisting the telephone bill around and around in his hands, siphoning off some of the anguish he felt in the process.

“I can completely understand why you don’t trust her. She hasn’t given you any reason to trust her, has she?”

“So it makes sense to you why I don’t want to be married anymore? I just assumed you would tell me we have to stay married. But how can you stay married to a woman you can’t trust?” I could tell by the tone in his voice and the look of finality on his face that he had already decided. I knew he wasn’t going to like or understand what I was going to say next. Fortunately, that has never stopped me.

“Since when does trust have anything to do with love and marriage?” I asked. As soon as I said this, his head shot up and he looked me right in the eyes. I could tell he wrestled with exactly how he wanted to word his objection, but after discarding several versions of his indignation speech, he just said, “What?!”

“Listen. You assume that love and trust go together, don’t you? I know you do, because almost everyone does. But everyone just happens to be mistaken in this case. We have been duped into thinking that you can only love someone who acts in such a way that they cause us to trust them. As soon as that trust relationship is broken, love cannot follow. That’s what you believe, isn’t it?”

He agreed. That was what he had always been taught.

He had been taught wrongly.

I explained that this view of love and trust do not come from either common sense, from acknowledged teachings of the Bible, or any other philosophical writings. This view of love owes more to pop psychology than reality. For instance, Dr. Joyce Brothers (the diva of pop psych sex counseling) says “The best proof of love is trust” and “We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.” I assume most people reading those words find some sort of resonance with them. But they don’t really make sense in the real world, not when you think about it. Let’s start with the basic concept of God. Christian teaching establishes that God loves us, each of us. My question is this: Who loves us more than God? By definition of who God is, no one can love us more. Yet who trusts us LESS than God? He knows everything about us, analyzing us from our motives to our hidden faults. When we have fooled the rest of the world into believing that we are holier than Martin Luther King, God has all the evidence.

So look at the equation: God loves us more than anyone else and trusts us less. We are told about Jesus in John 2:24 that he would not trust himself to any man because he knew what was in the heart of a man. Yet his amazing love extended to a point where he surrendered his life to pay for our spiritual debts. Such great love; such little trust.

A parent of a four-year old does not trust their child very much. We know that the second we turn our backs, they will be shoving nickels up their nose or grabbing oreos by the armload right before dinner. Yet we love them passionately. The love of a parent does not rest on any shaky foundation of trust any more than a bridge rests on a foundation of sand and mud. Trust is actually an emotion. It is an emotional response to consistency we can admit to. I say “admit to” because when we have decided we can’t trust people, no amount of proof is going to change that emotion.

But we can always love. Love is a decision that says “I will do the best thing for you.” I hope that next month you will show me more reasons to trust you, but until that time I will love. When we love before we trust, we show the greatness of our character and the durability of our impact on the lives of those we love.

Who are you having trouble trusting? Then don’t. Don’t trust anyone absolutely, but do love them.

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