Trust Is Risk…

Trust is risk that you feel good about. I don’t remember if I read someone saying this, or if I simply realized it while observing people. I have noticed that it is a murky area for many of us, and in the story of our lives we may be reading too quickly to catch some things. (The first thing we may miss is the fact that we should be doing so much of the writing, rather than letting other events and other people do it for us.) But, about trusting again… I have observed that there is an intermediate step between not trusting, and trusting again. That intermediate step is crucial for us to get beyond the stalemate in getting over past hurts.
A little bit about the stalemate might help our thoughts about trust. We can get stuck not knowing how to re-develop trust. Perhaps we have seen too many false starts which led only to being hurt again. Perhaps we have grasped one of those easy ways out; such as, “I’ll just never trust that person, or maybe any person, again.” The problem with that for a default setting is that we are created for community, and we don’t really do so well without it, even if it may be difficult to build it. I see people sadly content to be continually angry, doubtful of others, suspicious of their spouse or friends, quick to accuse, all in the name of not being ready to trust again. So, let me ask about that intermediate step. Are you ready to risk again? Are you ready to be unsure of that other person, but at the same time, not be cynical and accusatory toward them? Can we embrace the discomfort of not knowing for sure, just yet?
Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21) Was Peter asking if there would be a point at which he could give up and not feel like a Cad? Was he asking if it wasn’t supposed to feel better than it did? Jesus’ response to Peter tells him to keep on forgiving, many, many times. Forgiveness is about giving Grace and about not seeking retaliation/revenge. It is about possibly rebuilding relationship, but not about being taken advantage of, or being trapped in foolish hope.
We can trust again, but we need to be clear about our expectations, freely expressing what we need in order to feel good about the risk. We can risk again if we are both accountable again. Communication must once again be free, and honest, and safe, and clear. Communication that is effective is about understanding, and not about controlling each other. Perhaps we don’t trust again because the other person is still not trustworthy. But let’s be careful to make sure that we are not withholding forgiveness because we are in it for the revenge, or because we just are too tired and resentful to do the work of rebuilding and taking the new risk, the new risk that we will feel good about some day. We need to be carving out the space needed for our partner and our relationship to heal and to be healed.
And, to the offender, I say, we can risk again if we are committed once again to showing that we can be trusted, and spending the time and the humility needed for trust to be restored.

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