The Weekly Dream: Things Fall Apart Pt. III
“Lust, can sometimes override trust…”
-Lupe Fiasco, Real
Growing up and being the oldest son, I was often called upon to share my things: clothes, toys and various hygiene products. Often, these are things I purchased with my own money. Therefore, I was extremely anal about their maintenance and placement. But it never failed, my brothers would always take my things without asking. And since it was not their property, the same level of care or stewardship was not exhibited. I would find my clothes, dirty, on the floor, things left all over the place or used up without being replenished. As anyone could imagine, this caused me to become 1.) Very protective of my things (which I am unto this day) 2.) Very reluctant in allowing anyone to use my belongings. In school, I learned early not to trust anyone, because everyone does not operate from a place of integrity.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a very trusting person and I want to trust people, but everyone does not value the things I value and vice versa. Sociologists call trust a function of a person’s belief in the benevolence and competence of the other party. People are more likely to forgive incompetence (e.g. ignorance) than a lack of benevolence (i.e. moral uprightness). It is this asymmetry of values that I believe is responsible for the suspicion that permeates our relationships. For example, if I know what you value, then there are only two outcomes: either I will respect and treasure your values or I will not. And then you know where you stand with me. In any event there must be communication, understanding and forgiveness when trust is broken.
Trust is the belief in the good character of one party, and their desire to fulfill their previous promises. As I have said before, trust is harder to come by than love. However, love without trust is just sound and fury, with no power behind it. Think about how many people you truly trust? There are two types of people in the world: the innocent until proven guilty crowd and the guilty until proven innocent consortium. The former are very trusting, until you cross them, then your name is mud. With the latter, it may take some time to gain them over, but once you have them, they will give you a little more rope to mess up. Which are you? Most of the time, you trust people to be themselves, based on your assessment of them.
A lack of trust is lock-and-step with unforgiveness. People may be able to forgive you, eventually, but when the trust is gone or damaged, it is almost impossible to get back. It is one thing to ask for forgiveness, it is quite another to asked to be restored to your former standing. That is truly an exercise in Christian/Agape love (see the story of the Prodigal Son).
Why? It goes back to how trust is formed. Trust takes time and experience to build. After you have assessed someone’s character and integrity, only then is it safe to be vulnerable around them. But when selfishness, negligence, or weakness enters into a relationship and is succumbed to, then trust is threatened.
In relationships, people make mistakes and people get hurt. Either people do not respond to you the way you would like them to, they might be flaky or moody, or just plain rude and inconsiderate. For whatever reason, people do things that make us hesitate in trusting them or dealing with them. Is it completely their fault or could you be to blame? Were your expectations set and are they realistic?
What is even more complicated is when you have done nothing wrong, but the other person does not trust you, therefore they hold back. It is hard for them to let go and trust your judgment or take your word. But you still want the relationship to work, you still want to deal with the person, so how do you rebuild/strengthen the trust?
It Aint Easy…
Regaining trust has a lot to do with redemption and restoration. There literally is a breach in the relationship that must be repaired in order to continue in the relationship. First, the person who was transgressed against must be open to the possibility of placing their trust in the person. As previously stated, unforgiveness and self-preservation will be the biggest obstacle to doing this. But if the person is not open to forgiving and trusting again, then it is a losing battle.
Next, take time to communicate earnestly and listen to each other. This way, you can see who the person really is and you lay the foundation to “reset” the relationship, when you catch a glimpse of the person’s heart and if they truly have your best interest.
On the other side, the transgressor must do everything to prove their consistency and steadfastness. And, hopefully, with time and God’s help, all will be well.
Fight the Good Fight…
Lack of trust is like brain cancer or a house without a foundation, it is only a matter of time before it is a wrap and the relationship is irretrievably broken. If the trust has been damaged, you must reassess everything to see if it is worth saving and if you can truly move past the hurt and suspicion. If you have healthy, trusting relationships in your life, guard them jealously, because once trust is gone, there is really little left. If you can bounce back from a breach in trust, then you will be closer than ever. There is nothing like the threat of losing something to make you cherish it.
Any relationship takes work, you must decide if it is worth it…
Life is too short to constantly be looking over your shoulders around the ones you love.
Forgive and love again-if it is worth it and with God’s help.
Question of the Week: What lessons have you learned regarding trust and relationships?