“I have a really hard time trusting people.”
At one point or another, we’ve all said it. I. Don’t. Trust. People. I’ve. Been. Hurt. Before.
Take a step back from these sentences and tell me what you see. This statement is pure selfishness. Think about it. How is it possible that out of all the people in the world, only one person has ever been hurt?
“Wait. You don’t understand. You don’t know MY story.”
A couple weeks ago I was on a walk with my friend April and her dog Parker. As we walked along the greenway near our homes, Parker would curiously stop ever few steps while trotting alongside us happily. But whenever a dog, big or small, came near, Parker’s demeanor immediately changed. She became defensive and tense and started to bark at the other dog.
It got us talking about what Parker was like when April first got her. It was apparent when April first got Parker (who is a rescue dog) that she had seen some rough days. And after a pregnant Parker had wandered onto a friend’s farm, April volunteered to adopt her.
But it wasn’t easy. It took weeks for Parker to warm up to April and even longer before she would even consider snuggling up to her after a long day.
That’s the thing about past hurts. Even when you’re out of the storm, the pain can still take a hold of you and haunt you.
I’ve been hurt. So have you. We carry these wounds with us long after the storm has faded, long after we’ve wandered onto a new farm and found a safe haven. There comes a point where we have a choice – to lay down our burdens or continue carrying them down the road. The funny thing is, most of us choose to hold on our loads. But why?
Why do we insist on holding on to our pains and disappointments? When we refuse to let go, what happens within us is a heavy, bitter storm that continues to brew. And even when we take strides to move on, we continue to be pulled back into our hot mess.
Think about someone who has a hard time trusting people right now. Maybe it’s your best friend. Or someone you’re in a relationship with. Maybe it’s you. They have a façade about them that says they’re okay. Some days, they don’t have another care in the world. Then, almost out of the blue, something happens. Maybe a missed phone call or a hurtful word, it doesn’t matter what the trigger is, because the result is usually the same brick wall. A complete emergency shut down.
“See, this is why I don’t trust people!” they say.
Sometimes I wonder what the Bible would have looked like if Jesus had a hard time trusting people. Would He encourage the weary and heavy burden to Him? Would He bring up his parental issues about the time His parents forgot about Him and left Him behind in another city? Would He jump from group to group looking for friends who didn’t fall asleep on Him in His most dire of moments? Would He complain to whoever listened about how His best friends pretended they didn’t know Him when He was being unjustly accused in court? And would He flinch whenever He heard the crack of a whip in the distance?
We can spend our entire lives making list after list of why we don’t trust people. But maybe it’s not about these people who have hurt us. Maybe it’s not about what they have done to us or not done for us. Maybe, it’s actually about the who.
I think we’ve been going about this life-trusting strategy all wrong. We’ve been going about our lives putting our trust in imperfect people. Here’s the thing, imperfect people are selfish, inconsistent and flaky, so of course we feel let down by them! But what if we put our trust in someone perfect? We are called to trust the Lord with all our hearts. Not 1/3 of it. Not half to God and half to Fernando, boyfriend number 37, but ALL of our heart. And that’s where we’ve made our mistakes. Because when we put our trust in someone who is selfless and consistent and always there, there is an absolute guarantee we will not lose.
Adjusting to home life took some time for Parker. Little things like cowering in the midst of raised voices or sweeping brooms were common reactions for the sweet pup. But April stayed consistent and through time, Parker let her guard down. Little by little, Parker began to open up her heart to April and eventually put her entire trust in her.
Something struck me in my conversation with April. She said that now, Parker will trust her with her entire life. She knows that April would never put her in harms ways. And even in the moments when Parker tries to take a snap at a strange dog coming toward them, she is doing it more so to protect April than anything else. I think it’s because Parker gets it. She’s found someone who she can completely trust and when we find ourselves embodied in that kind of love, we’ll do anything to protect it.
We’ve spent our entire lives putting our trust in the instability of other people. Making the change won’t be easy. There will be many days of being in the unknown, wondering if history will repeat itself, questioning God’s intentions with our lives. Other days you may wonder when the catch-22 will appear, because this sort of unfailing love is just too good to be true.
But through time, you’ll let your guard down.
And little by little, when you allow yourself to open up your heart to God and trust Him completely, a new world will open up before you. One that is filled with endless hope, endless possibilities and immeasurable freedom. And when you find yourself embodied in that kind of love, you’ll never look back. (Trust me).
Take it from Parker, the best is still yet to come.