Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Losing And Rebuilding Trust

Photo Courtesy of  呉 松本  via Flickr
Photo Courtesy of 呉 松本
via Flickr

Snow ziplining is an incredible rush!

Last winter, I went ziplining at Hawksnest in Seven Devils, NC. It was an absolutely phenomenal experience! It was snowing, the temperature was in the 20s, and the wind was gusting around 20 miles per hour. The stations were set up diagonally across the mountain’s descent, the longest line being six football fields long. Yes, hanging from a thin cable while flying down a mountainside in those conditions can cause a person to question his sanity.

Someone commented, “That looks fun, but it seems really hard.” I replied, “Ziplining isn’t hard—you just have to let go.”

“You just have to let go.” That statement holds the best description of trust.

Quite often, I hear people say, “I’ve been hurt so many times, I will never trust again.” Yet trust is a basic component of the human experience. Without trust, life becomes a skeptical, hollow and lonely existence.

So what is it about trust that makes us so vulnerable to have it and yet so painful to lose?

To understand the concept, let’s define the word trust.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines trust as a belief that someone or something is reliable, good and honest. It is the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed; dependence on something future or contingent (e.g., hope).

In looking at biblical references, a great verse about trust is Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” The Hebrew word for trust means to be confident, sure, bold, secure, hopeful. The implied thought is to fully commit yourself to, or boldly rely on, God.

Based on these descriptions, we define trust as our willingness to confidently rely on something or someone. For example, I placed my trust—yes, my well-being—in that thin cable while flying down the mountainside. Could the cable have snapped? Sure. Could the experience have ended badly with severe injuries? There is always that possibility. Yet a certain amount of trust is necessary to enjoy the thrill of the ride.

I didn’t demonstrate trust simply by putting on the harness, climbing up the platform and hooking onto the cable. My trust became evident when I let go—when I sat back in the harness, lifted my feet off the platform and let go. Letting go was the hard part; gravity did the rest.

That’s the secret, isn’t it? Simply letting go.

Letting go of past hurts so we can be open and vulnerable again. Letting go of bitterness so we can love again. Letting go of walls so we can allow the closeness of genuine friendships to blossom anew in our lives. Letting go of past painful events so we can make new, glorious memories. Letting go of fears and protective barriers. Letting go of anger, hatred, grudges, anything that is holding us back from the thrill of life.

A certain amount of trust is required to fully experience life. Friendships need trust. Marriages require trust. Mostly, each person’s relationship with God demands trust.

Every human interaction has an initial implied level of trust. As people prove themselves trustworthy or not, we trust ourselves more, or less, with them. However, trust is not an exercise in blind leaps of faith where we repeatedly entrust ourselves to untrustworthy people who continually hurt us. The confidence and security involved in trust demand that we perform due diligence in our ongoing assessment of the situation. We determine the safety precautions involved in ziplining. We get to know someone fairly well before we begin to trust.

Here’s the most awesome thing about trust: It isn’t a determination of how much you trust someone else. It’s your willingness to entrust yourself, your well-being, with someone else. So trust is something you control, not something you carelessly share with those who don’t earn or deserve it.

How do we “let go” so we can trust again? Here are four critical steps.

1. Willingness – Many times we are prisoners of our own minds. Until and unless we are willing to move beyond our hurts, we remain bound by them. Every journey of a lifetime begins somewhere, but it takes action, that first step of willingness.

2. Forgetfulness – Force your mind to stop reliving the past, to stop obsessing about who hurt you and how badly it hurt. You cannot change your past, but you are under no obligation to let it control your future. Learn from the past while cherishing the good memories.  But stop reliving past painful events. Put all that energy to good use in planning a much brighter future.

3. Forgiveness – Forgive the person(s) responsible for the broken trust. It may be an abusive parent, violent sibling, disloyal friend, unfaithful spouse or back-stabbing co-worker. Forgive even if they haven’t asked for forgiveness or don’t understand how they hurt you. Forgive even if the offender is deceased. Forgiveness does not minimize what happened. Rather, it releases the control you’ve allowed that pain to have on your life and sets your soul free.

4. Vulnerability – Yes, trusting involves being vulnerable. Letting go is your permission to do so. Don’t hold everyone accountable for your broken trust. Not everyone causes pain. Not everyone is untrustworthy. Until and unless you are willing to lower your facade and allow people inside your defenses, you prevent the “thrill of the ride.” You control how much of yourself you are willing to trust with others. As people prove themselves trustworthy, choose to entrust more of yourself to them.

Rebuilding the shattered confidence of broken trust can be frightening. We are all human, no one is perfect. Eventually we all make mistakes. However, to experience life at its fullest, to express yourself with confidence, to enjoy relationships at their most intimate, trust is foundational.

So start today. Harness up, sit back, lift your feet and let go. The thrill of your lifetime is waiting!

About Nate Stevens

A missionary kid raised in a Christian home and church, Nate Stevens is a lifelong student of Scripture. He has enjoyed a 36-year banking career in a variety of leadership roles. He is the author of "Matched 4 Life," "Matched 4 Life Workbook," "Deck Time with Jesus," and contributes to the Moments book series (Divine Moments, Spoken Moments, Stupid Moments, etc.). He co-leads a singles ministry in the Charlotte, NC area and is a popular speaker / teacher at conferences, seminars and Bible study groups, speaking on a wide variety of topics. Nate currently lives near Charlotte, North Carolina, is a newlywed to his beautiful wife, Karen, and is an active dad with two awesome kids, Melissa and Mitchell.
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