Trust

How do we learn to trust again after getting hurt? I’m sure life would be easier, if I had the answer to that question.

It’s usually not difficult for me to forgive and reconcile with people, it’s the part after that gets difficult. I constantly wonder how I can forgive someone so easily but have so much trouble trusting again.

I realize part of the issue is that I don’t want to repeat my mistakes and get hurt again. I don’t want to feel like someone has taken advantage of my love. These feelings almost always lead me to feel afraid, though.

Is living in fear really worth not having to step out of my comfort zone? Am I helping my relationships grow and improve by holding on to fear?

If I’m completely honest with myself, I would have to answer no to both of these questions, but my actions often say the opposite. I allow myself to live in fear because trusting someone isn’t always easy. It’s something that we have to constantly work on in our relationships, especially when someone has broken our trust before.

As a counselor, I’ve gotten meet with people with all kinds of trust issues. I’m no expert on trust, but trying to help other people with their trust issues has really helped me figure out what helps me get over my own trust issues. So, here are just a few things that have helped me find my answer to how I learn to trust after getting hurt, maybe they’ll help you figure out some answers in your own life:

  1. Start Small. More often than not, we make trust an all or nothing deal. Trust isn’t a giant umbrella that encompasses all areas of life, though. We trust the people in our life in different ways and at different levels. Just because someone broke your trust in one area of life does not mean that you can’t trust him or her with anything at all.

I may not be able to trust them with the big things, but what can I trust them with today? 

  1. Give Up Control of the Situation. We can’t force anyone to gain our trust back, and we can’t make things be like they were before. We so often attempt to take control of a situation by trying to make a relationship return to what it was before trust was broken. We hold on to things we want to have control over with tight fists. We’re so busy holding on that we forget what it is we are really holding in our hands. Once we allow ourselves to unclench our fists and let go, we are finally free to see the bigger picture.

Am I still trying to take control or am I able to see the bigger picture?

  1. Give Trust. Relationships usually start off with people trusting each other. Once someone breaks our trust, we think they must show us they can be trusted before we can give them any trust again. We tend to see trust as something that needs to be earned. However, we run into a road block when we view trust this way because we can’t always know if someone can be trusted again if we never give him or her the opportunity to show us.

The only way to see if your child will get home within curfew this time is to let them go out with friends. The only way to see if your friend will be supportive of you this time is to ask them to help you out with something. The only way to see if your spouse can be truthful this time is to not automatically assume they are lying.

In what ways can I change my actions so he or she can have the opportunity to show me they can be trusted?

  1. Make Everyday a New Day. When we get hurt, the only way we can get better is to move on. We can’t keep bringing up old wounds in new arguments. Everyday is an opportunity to start fresh. If things didn’t go well yesterday, put that day in the past so that it doesn’t make today a bad day as well. If all you ever do is give second chances, things will get old really quickly. Instead, make each chance a new chance so that things might have a better opportunity to improve.

Do I bring up old wounds or am I able to move on?

  1. Communicate Without Being Confrontational.When someone breaks our trust, we feel all kinds of different emotions. It’s easy to allow our emotions to get the best of us. We feel attacked and, in defense, attack back. We don’t always know how to express our emotions without cutting down the other person.  Talking about how we feel can help heal the relationship, but a conversation should be stopped if it keeps going in circles. A conversation should never reach the point of insults and hateful comments. Constantly reminding someone they broke our trust isn’t going to get us to trust them again. If trust was broken, chances are high that the issues go deeper than just trust. There were likely problems before and there will likely be problems after, if we don’t learn how to communicate appropriately and respectfully.

Am I able to communicate without being confrontational or defensive? Are there any underlying issues that keep me from communicating appropriately and respectfully?

  1. Acknowledge that each person is different. We often don’t trust people based on what other people have done. We allow the pain one person caused us to make us afraid that everyone else is also going to cause us equal pain. We feel like we made a mistake by trusting someone, and we need to be on guard so that we don’t make the same mistakes again. It’s good to learn from our past, but we miss out on new experiences by putting our guard up. We shouldn’t view one person’s actions as a reflection of another person’s actions.

Do I generalize people’s actions based on one person’s actions or am I able to see each relationship as it’s own?

  1. Take Care of Your Own Emotional Needs. We have a tendency to feel like other people are required to help us feel better. They made us feel bad, so now it’s their job to make us feel better. No one else can fix our emotions for us. It’s so difficult to heal a broken heart because we are the only ones who can fix it. Regardless of what anyone else does for us, we are the ones who have to decide when we are ready to be okay again. We are the ones who know what makes us happy.

Do I wait for others to make me feel better or do I look for ways to feel better on my own? Am I doing anything for myself or am I too focused on others to even find time for myself?

  1. Acknowledge No One Is Immune From Breaking Another’s Trust—Even You. We sometimes fall into the illusion that because one relationship is better than a past one, we won’t get hurt. We fool ourselves into believing that we can attain perfection in our relationships. If we were honest with ourselves, though, we would see that pain is an unavoidable part of life. We all make mistakes, and sometimes our mistakes lead to others getting hurt and losing trust in us. We all disappoint one another, just in different ways. Once we realize this, we can start to see that trust is, more often than not, broken from the start. It’s something we have to continuously reestablish so that fear doesn’t cloud over relationships.

What things do people have a hard time trusting me with? What things do I have a hard time trusting others with? Do I allow these things to let me live in fear? Who in my life am I able to keep having trust in regardless of how many times they have broken my trust? 

I like to write about my faith and how I experience things through my relationship with Jesus. Even though I do feel that prayer is a big part of learning to trust again, I did not include it in this list because I feel that these things can also apply to our relationship with Jesus. We have to learn to trust both Jesus and ourselves before we can truly learn to trust others.

 

Originally Written and Posted: April 14, 2014

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Where Do You Draw the Line?

“Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”

-John 8:2-11

Very recently, I went through what I can call the worst experience of my life, so far. Someone broke my heart, and through it all, I kept thinking about the story about the adulterous woman in the Bible (John 8:2-11).  

Growing up, I often heard this story in reference to not judging others for their mistakes.  I was told we should put ourselves in place of the Pharisees so that we could realize Jesus tells us we should not judge anyone for the sins they commit because we are all sinners.

As I got older, I started seeing the story from a different perspective. If I was a sinner, didn’t I also need to be looked upon with kindness, didn’t I also need to be forgiven? My relationship with Jesus was strengthened with this story because it reminded me Jesus was on my side. He always wants the best for me and is willing to be there for me when no one else is.

The message seemed simple enough to understand: we are all sinners who will, at one time or another, need to be forgiven; so we should not look down on anyone because Jesus loves us all equally. However, through this very recent experience, I came to realize that when we only put ourselves in place of the Pharisees or of the woman, we miss a very important part of the story.

A few nights ago, I kept thinking about the choices I would have to make because of what had occurred. Would it be best for me if I kept things as they were or if I changed things? Could I forgive and reconcile, or should I just forgive and leave? When do you say you’ve had enough? Where do you draw the line?

At that moment, this story popped into my mind again. I kept thinking about Jesus, and his role in everything. Was it really just that easy to tell the woman that she was forgiven and that everything would be okay? I kept wondering how he did it.

The story says that Jesus was writing in the sand. We are not told what exactly he was writing, but, in my mind, I kept imagining Jesus writing words and then drawing a line in the sand.

I kept seeing Jesus calmly writing in the sand, and when he finished, I saw him draw a line, almost as if he were saying, “This is where you draw the line.”

My heart was broken this weekend, and instead of forgiving and turning my back on everything, I decided to forgive and stay. I wondered what others would think of my choices and of me. I was scared and I felt overwhelmed; but then, I thought of what Jesus told the woman, and I knew I did exactly what Jesus wanted of me.

I had always thought that drawing the line meant that you had to draw it between you and someone else. It meant breaking ties and bonds so that you would no longer be able to be hurt by them. Jesus taught me otherwise.

He saw the woman and knew her sin, and still chose to remain by her side. He chose to draw the line, not between himself and the woman, but between the woman and the world. He stayed by her side and fought for her so that she would know forgiveness. He showed her what it meant to be loved.  

I know the road ahead will not be easy, but now that I know where to draw the line. I know that at least I’ll end up where God wants me.

 

Originally written and posted February 28, 2012

A Child Forgiven

“I was in the shadows

for so long.

Waiting.

to be found,

to be invited

into the light.

Being patient,

obedient.

I was in the shadows

for so long

that I lost myself

and forgot to wait.

forgot to listen.”


Yesterday, when I went to confession, Father told me that I was loved…that God loves me. I didn’t know how much I needed to hear those words until I heard them. Somewhere along the way, I had lost that truth, and I spent so long searching for something that could make me feel God’s love again. Those words were a much needed reminder of my worth.


Sometimes, it’s easy to get so caught up in the world that you lose yourself and forget to be loved. You get mixed up in the chaos of life and stop listening to God’s messages.


This week, I was able to block out the world and just listen.


I met a little 6-year-old boy who told me that I was pretty. In all honesty, his comment took me by surprise because men my age are all too often passive and insincere. However, his comment was made with the most innocent of intentions. He was only admiring the beauty he saw in his world.


At first sight, this little boy seems like a normal, happy child; but his life is far from normal. He’s been abandoned by a mother he’s never met and by a father who is too busy to take care of him. He has so many questions that may never be answered, and he’s angry. In truth, he has a right to be angry; but instead of letting his anger rule his life, he sees someone like me and smiles. He looks at the world and sees the good in his life. It’s no wonder Jesus told us to be like children.


Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” –Matthew 18:1-4


Many of us can probably relate to this little boy’s pain. We have had many unanswered questions about life. We have felt abandoned by our Father, and we have felt angry because there’s nothing we can control or change in this life.


If only we could just as easily relate to a child’s view of love and beauty.


Children can look past the lies, hatred, and anger in this world and see truth. They can live in this world and not let the chaos blind them to the beauty that surrounds them. They can receive love and just as easily give love.


As an adult, I have found that it is sometimes difficult to hear God’s voice amidst the chaos of our everyday lives. So often we feel that God is not speaking to us and we gradually create more chaos as a way of drowning out His whisper in our heart. We start to believe lies that lead us astray from His plan for us. We trap ourselves in sinfulness, and we start to ignore the love and grace we were created to live with.


It becomes so easy to live with the lies: “I am worthless.” “God does not love me.” “Just this one time” “What I’m doing isn’t that bad.”, but deep in our heart, God’s whisper can be heard. We know it’s all lies, but believing them starts to give us false hope. We feel in control of our lives, when, in reality, the only thing we are doing is creating more chaos and damaging our spirit.


Eventually, we hold on to the lies because fear takes over. We hold on to the lies because our other alternative is forgiveness, and being forgiven means that we can no longer ignore God’s love and grace. Letting go of the lies and being forgiven means that we owe it to ourselves to listen to God’s whisper…to love others…to have a childlike faith…and to love ourselves



“Mercy bend and breathe me back to life, but not before you show me how to die…” 

                                                                                              -Show Me by Audrey Assad

Originally Written and Posted: October 31, 2010 at 9:34pm