Isaac Watts “Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.”
“I thought he was my friend but when I got to his house late at night because I had been jumped, he wouldn’t let me inside,” says a youth with bruises of contrasting colors speckling his face.
“What did you expect of him?” I ask.
He glares and says, “I expected him to let me sleep the night.”
“Do you have friends who would rescue you in the middle of the night?”
“If they won’t, they aren’t my friends,” he replies.
I remember when I expected all my friends to be totally trustworthy and they kept disappointing me. My sister told me “You will probably only trust one or two people totally in your life. I trust some people with finances but not to pick me up at 2 a.m. I trust some people with my children’s lives but not with food shopping. So I learn to trust people with only those things in which they are trustworthy.”
We talk for awhile and make a list of all the ways we ask for trust. That evolved into the ways we are trustworthy. Then we started discussing the kinds of trust that are essential to our well being.
“I want to trust that people who know intimate things about me won’t gossip or use it against me when they are angry.”
“I want to trust that I can reveal bad things about myself without being judged.”
“I want to trust that someone has my back.”
“I want to trust that a friend will be kind to me even when I don’t deserve it.”
We stop and both stare into empty space. In a little bit, the young man says to me “It’s complicated. I didn’t realize that trust is a two way street or that there are so many kinds of trust. I want to find out from others what they trust in me. And maybe show a little appreciation for those I do trust for something.”
This conversation has not ended. Trusting is from the heart. We can choose to trust which auto mechanic we use but friends are different. We are pulled to trust those with whom we are involved and it is not always a conscious decision. Trust requires vulnerability. Trusting allows us to transcend our self imposed isolation. This skill of discernment on who to trust about what is a refinement on those with whom we already have a relationship. Our learning together how to be self reliant depends upon our being able to enlarge our capacity to see our friends and relatives as they are and not as we would like them to be. Relationships are not easy to maintain and are basic to getting out of dark places and walking in the light. It is a life skill of loving those at their own level and not insisting that all people be perfect.