Five letters that used to send me running for the hills. My experience with trust over the years has been somewhat like a bad boxing match. You know, the kind you almost can’t stand to watch because one person is getting trampled. By the time I graduated college, my perception of trust seemed hopelessly distorted. A self-diagnosis of “too far gone” encouraged me to do what I did with everything else that seemed impossible to face, so I shoved it into the back of a deep, dark mental closet and pretend it didn’t exist. As they do, my unattended injuries continued to get worse with every punch.
I tried over and over again to step out into what I saw other people experience – freedom from this crippling concept called broken trust, but I could never quite make it.
Eventually, I adopted the knowledge that my trust needs to be in God, not in people. But the scramble was still very much in play. Some of the biggest blows I received came during seasons of life where I was trying to pursue a relationship with God. There were many times I tried to do what was right, and ended up falling into what felt like punishment for the opposite. I tried to color-code “Christians” and “non-Christians” so I knew who to trust, but some of the people who hurt me the most claimed to be followers of Jesus.
“How in the world am I supposed to put trust in that?”
I also learned that trust is a choice, not a feeling, so I tried to separate the two and make that choice. But it was more like bracing myself for the inevitable collision of my heart and destruction. If you’ve ever been rock climbing, then you will understand (and probably cringe at) this analogy – trusting another person or God felt a bit like catapulting myself off of a cliff, hoping the person at the bottom had the rope as tightly as they were supposed to. Hoping that something didn’t come along to distract them from the fact that they were holding my life in their hands. Hoping they didn’t get tired of holding me, or think I was too heavy. Hoping they didn’t drop me, and let me shatter, once again.
My biggest struggle has been whether or not it is safe to trust God.
Years of confusing painful blows as coming from God instead of people led me to cower at the idea of His protection.
I didn’t trust God not to let me get hurt. I didn’t trust God to protect me.
You see, I was missing the crucial truth that trusting God is not the same as trusting that I won’t get hurt.
I was trusting in and for the wrong things.
- …never promised us that life would be easy. In fact, he warned us of the opposite (John 16:33).
- …tells us not to depend on other people for our security. We are all imperfect and we don’t have the power to save each other (Isaiah 2:22, Psalm 146:3).
- …isn’t the one who hurts us. He doesn’t desire a bunch of robots, so He has given us the ability to make our own choices. We live in a broken, broken world where a lot of the choices people make are extremely harmful to others. Unfortunately, many people who follow or say they follow Jesus can also make incredibly hurtful choices.
The guarantee God offers us is that even if we find ourselves in the worst-case-scenario, facing our biggest fears, we can be OK in Him. No belayer with a wandering eye can ruin us. We may get knocked down, but we won’t stay there. He is stronger (Genesis 50:20).
Here are 2 big fears that have reared their ugly heads many times in my battle for trust, and truth to spray on their flames:
- Everyone I ever love and anyone who claims to love me is going to hurt me.
Because we are all sinful by nature, at some point we all inevitably let each other down, and it hurts. If we base our security on the hope that someone won’t sin in a way that hurt us, we are setting ourselves up for more hurt. If someone places that kind of hope in you or I, will they not also have the wind knocked out of them?
Only Jesus can sustain the the weight of our fragile hearts.
- OK, so people are going to let me down, I can get through that as long as it’s not something that hits me in “that” area of life. Anything but that wound. It has been reopened so many times.
Sometimes we get hit where we are the weakest. Old wounds are reopened, and that can be excruciating. But, although our human pain tolerance isn’t enough for those types of hurts, it doesn’t mean we can’t get through them.
We have a Savior that stood in front of us to take the nails and lashes that should have been ours to suffer. He is more than capable and willing to stand in front of us now, today, and receive the brunt of life’s blows.
We do need to be careful about who we trust, but at the end of the day
our saving grace is that God will always be able to handle whatever happens. He is the only perfectly safe place.
And He will never break our trust. That’s a promise
“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.” Psalm 146:3
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“Don’t put your trust in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils.” Isaiah 22:2