Trust can be defined as"reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence"; "confident expectation of something; hope." To place your trust in someone or something means to believe in that person or thing. To believe means "to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so". Trusting, hoping, and believing are not tangible; you cannot go to a store and buy trust. You cannot manufacture hope or belief. It's not possible.
If trust is not a tangible thing, where does it come from? Whenever people are asked to name a quality they seek in the people they choose to partner with in life, one of the first responses most people give is "trust". Why is trust so important? How did something so immeasurable become so essential to our relationships?
I believe that I never really understood what trust was until my trust was betrayed. I'm sure I've been disappointed by people in the past, but never really thought that I couldn't trust them anymore. Betrayal, however, means I can never trust that person again. At what point does disappointment become betrayal, breaking this sacred trust?
I ask these questions because, as I continue my journey of self-discovery (which seems never-ending), I've come to realize that my definition of trust is never static. In the past, my ability to trust has been based on my expectations - what I believed was right and true for me. When I felt disappointed, hurt, or betrayed by someone, it's because that person didn't meet my expectations. That person didn't do what I would have done. In other words, that person is not me.
In my last post, I mentioned that my expectations were largely to blame for the failure of my relationships. As soon as someone didn't meet my expectations, that relationship was irreparable for me. I felt unsure and began to perceive the person as unreliable, therefore, unworthy of my trust. That is a lot of pressure to put on someone. Imagine starting a relationship telling someone: "You must prove yourself worthy of my trust." That's arrogant, and borders on narcissistic. But isn't that what we ask of others, when we "test" them in the various ways humans like to play games and manipulate each other?
If trust means "confidence", "belief", "hope", and those things are intangible, how can people prove themselves worthy of trust? How can people prove something that has no "absolute proof"?
I continue to ask questions about trust, because it is an important concept to me, and because I know I do not have the answers. However, there are some personal truths relating to the concept of trust that have begun to guide my life:
- God is my Creator. He is the One I must trust, for He knows my beginning, my end, and everything in between.
- People were not placed on this earth to meet my expectations. No one is required to prove him or herself to me. Anyone who comes into my life is there to teach me a life lesson, not to stroke my ego.
- Speaking of ego, I need to remember that no one is me. I AM ME. No one else. And therefore, I cannot ask someone to think or act like me. Just one of me is more than enough for this world!
- I am certain that nothing is certain. Someone in my life today could be gone tomorrow, by the mere fact that I do not hold the knowledge of what could happen tomorrow.
- My journey is mine, and for the time others are a part of it, I must accept who they are and where they are on their personal journey.
- Belief, hope, and confidence come through consistency. I can only control my own consistency, no one else's. Therefore, if I am consistent, others will begin to have confidence in me. And I can only trust that what I put out into the universe will come back to me, even a hundredfold.
- Sometimes, trust holds fear's hand. This happens because we were created to question, doubt, investigate, internalize knowledge and wisdom, and then decide to trust. This is the moment when trust can drop fear's hand and walk on confidently.
As we walk through life, our experiences teach us who to trust, and for some of us that number dwindles with time. However, the most important thing is to remain open to who and what God has placed in your life in that moment, to let go of fear's hand, and to know that, above all, "Trust involves letting go and knowing God will catch you." (Dr. James Dobson)
You don't have to trust me, and you don't have to believe what I'm saying. That's what is so beautiful about this journey, called life, that we are all on. It is our own.