Trust — that’s quite a word. It seems that our whole society is having trouble trusting anyone or anything. We are bombarded by those in government, education, media and other social sectors doing and saying things that violate our trust. Ethical, financial and moral scandals permeate many levels of our world. And it seems to be picking up momentum as it continues.
I’ve been concerned about this issue for some time now. I even co-wrote a book about trust entitled “Learning How to Trust.” I have noticed that people, whether churched or unchurched, have become more jaded, cynical and suspicious. Some of this attitude is deserved. We need to use wisdom when deciding whom and on what we trust.
Are we losing our ability to trust? Do things have to go our way for us to trust? Are we doomed to national and local cynicism due to a lack of trust in anything? Is there anyone or anything in which you can place your trust these days? Are we destined to lives of suspicion and trusting only in ourselves? Where does a lifestyle of “trustlessness” take us to in the long run?
To trust or not to trust — that is the question. That old song says, “I am a rock, I am an island, I touch no one, and no one touches me.” That’s a challenging way to live life! A trustless life or trusting in the wrong object or person is more like existing than living. If we continue down the trust-impaired path we seem to be walking on, there will be consequences. We will move from faith to fear, from abundance to scarcity, and from trust to doubt, even spite.
Many people act like sea urchins in the ocean that a stick has poked. They have recoiled and put a sign on their ability to trust, which says, “Closed for business.” The problem is, when we lock others out, we lock ourselves in, too.
Years ago, as a singles pastor, I counseled hundreds of newly divorced people. They came into our single’s group with vows such as:
“I’ll never trust a man again.” “I’ll never trust a woman again.” “I’ll never fall in love again!” “I’ll never” seems comfortable at first but later can limit one’s entire life.
In 1991, during a yearly skiing trip to Taos, New Mexico, I suffered a fall on a double black diamond ski run. I slid out of control at an incredible speed halfway down the mountain. My life flashed before. After what seemed like eons, I finally stopped with a thud on the steep slope. I landed, face up, on the only snowcat track on the ski run. Celebrating that I was still alive, I assessed my body. Proceeding with the inspection, I noticed my left leg was bent at a right angle — my leg had hit a tree during the descent.
The next few days and weeks were filled with excruciating pain as I waited for medical treatment. I had a compound fracture of my left femur — my thigh bone. The length and severity of the fall had also severely injured the nerves in my leg. Two operations later and sporting a steel rod inserted the entire length of my femur, I made it back to Phoenix. As I recall, that ski run was named Rattlesnake. I couldn’t agree more with the name.
Little did I know that the “fun” was just beginning. Now I faced physical therapy. I named my physical therapist “Fang!” My leg didn’t want to cooperate. It was scary for my leg to trust someone who was going to cause it more pain. My leg begged me for mercy. My leg was crying out, “I’ll never ski again.” But the rest of us in my body wanted to walk again, maybe even ski again.
I had to choose between two painful choices — to trust or not trust in a painful process with a physical therapist named “Fang.” It was trust or consequences! I could stay where I was the rest of my life and never regain the full use of my leg — my leg voted for that option. Or I could trust the therapist and walk again. The rest of my body chose the second option. Fang won by a close vote.
During the next few months of physical therapy, my leg reminded the rest of us in my body of how unhappy it was with our decision. However, as the months passed and after much pain, my leg came around to our way of thinking. I stand today with the full use of my leg — and have even skied again. Get the message?
We can learn how to trust again. We are made to trust. It may be a painful process, but it’s well worth it. The key is not so much the issue of trust but what and who we put our trust in. The object of our trust determines our trust level. To not trust is unnatural and severely limits the quality and potential of our lives.
Next week, let’s continue to explore and reveal trust. In the meantime, here’s some wisdom: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your way acknowledge God, and God will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6-7.