I thought I loved a boy. I thought he felt the same. His late night phone calls, cheesy notes, and winks across the classroom assured me we were on the same page. But then something changed. It seemed as though the earth quaked beneath me when I heard he had been talking with another girl. My heart sank to my toes when I'd see them together. Time passed but we never talked about it…never had any kind of closure. I was just irrelevant at the blink of an eye and somehow I had to tape my heart up enough to keep it beating.
I thought we were best friends. We did everything together, knew each other's secrets, and even shared weird nicknames. But something changed – a strange shift in the atmosphere, a vibe I couldn't understand, and a disconnect lingered between our typical dynamic. Someone told me she had been spreading rumors about me and before I knew it, we sent mean messages back and forth via AOL Instant Messsenger (I'm pretty sure my screenname was “comicalpig”…so there's that. RIP to AIM), simply shattering our friendship from behind the safety of our screens. She quickly found new best friends and I pretended I didn't notice. Oh, but I did.
I thought I had a plan. Everything looked right on paper and I was ready to rock and roll. But then something changed. The plan seemed to implode on itself without fair warning. As it crumbled, I tried to salvage just a shard or two of the broken pieces that it dropped on my lap, but to no avail. I (unwillingly) had to start over, redirect my path, and shift gears. My mom squeezed me with a tight hug – the long, lingering, comforting kind. She told me it would be alright and I nodded as if to say, “Yeah, I know.” She tried to help but there was no helping my hot mess that night. When she closed the door, I looked up to heaven with tear soaked cheeks and asked, “WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING, GOD?!”
I'd love to tell you those experiences taught me to forgive and forget. I'd love to tell you that I was able to heal, move on, and nurse my wounds to full recovery. But if I'm being honest, I think I still have wounds. Sure, they've healed for the most part but they've turned into scars on my heart. Scars that unexpectedly demand I pay attention to them. Scabs that seem to bust back open the second I feel an ounce of the feelings I did in the times I was cheated, lied to, and let down. And they dare me to build walls around my heart, run far away from love and trust, and protect myself with the utmost care. For many years, I hardened my heart. I had a hard time being my true self, letting my walls down, and acted how I thought each group or person I spent time with would like me to (FYI changing your personality for people is never a good plan). I wore a lot of masks in an effort to only expose what I wanted to let the world see.
And above all, I really struggled to trust that God was still good. Sometimes, when life gets nuts-o and I get frustrated, I still struggle to trust God. It's an uphill battle but one worth fighting.
Maybe that's you, too. Maybe you've been cheated on or lied to by someone you never thought would hurt you. Maybe your life has been full of disappointments and let downs lately. If so, you're probably having a hard time opening up again…trusting guys, girls, and God with the scars and scabs on your soul.
I want to start out by saying that that's NORMAL. Please don't feel like a weirdo or an outcast if you're feeling isolated, angry, hurt, or rejected right now. Because you're not.
However, just because something is NORMAL does not necessarily mean that it's GOOD. Just because it's NORMAL to lose trust in God after we've been hurt doesn't mean that it's GOOD to lose trust in God after we've been hurt, right?
But that is ultimately what we do when we let the damage and dirt in our stories hinder us from offering any ounce of the vulnerability and risk it requires to trust.
Here's what I mean: when we shut down and try to safeguard our hearts with a wide array protection mechanisms — whether that's a tough attitude or denial that deep down we desperately want to be loved — it's because we are deeply afraid.
Afraid of what? Well, we're afraid of putting our trust in the very thing that hurt us again, right? We're afraid to put our trust in a new guy and his ability to give us the security we need and not the heartbreak we hate. We're afraid to put our trust in a friend and her ability to bring us joy and laughter, not the hurt that comes from dishonesty and jealousy. We're afraid to put our trust in plans that promise great happiness and success, not disappointment or distress. The list could go on forever.
But here's the truth: we SHOULD be afraid. We should be incredibly terrified to put our trust in those things because they are finite and temporary and broken things. So, naturally, after being hurt and disappointed enough, we shut down completely as hopelessness creeps into the corners of our heart and then seems to find the power to infect our entire being.
So then what? Do we just quit? Is it good for our heart to shut out any chance of experiencing love, trust, and unity? Of course not. I think we can all agree that that's a pretty lonely place to live.
If that's true, then the true question is not simply, “How can I trust agan?” but instead, “How can I trust again without fear?”
The fact of the matter is that we are free to take risks and open our heart without fear ONLY when we shift our understanding of not only what trust is but also our expectation of where it belongs.
According to Merriam Dictionary, the active definition of ‘trust' is: “to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of ” and synonyms for the word ‘trust' include, to rely and to depend.
Do we want to have a mutually understood level of respect and trust in our earthly relationships? Of course! We should be intentional and patient about building trusted fellowship with the men and women God puts in our path. However, the fear comes into play when we begin to fully rely on or depend on the hope that they will never lie to us, leave us, or let us down.
That type of trust will always leave us terrified because we're expecting a broken sinner to fill a pair of shoes they simply cannot fit into. We are asking them to be a functional Savior in our life.
And if I'm being really honest, then I look in the mirror and realize I can't sit here and victimize myself every time I'm let down or hurt. To be real, I'm not always trustworthy 100% of the time. And I'm sure you're not either. I've let people down, too. I've told little white lies that I believed were harmless just to avoid conflict or confrontation. I've made promises that I fail to deliver on. And I've hurt people I love with my words and attitude.
Please hear me when I say that this doesn't mean that all hope is lost or that you should stick with the guy who cheats on you or the be best friends with the girl that lies to you. It simply means that you may be having a hard time stepping to new relationships or trusting God through the disappointment you have in others and in yourself because you're not putting your trust in GOD but in what you want God to GIVE you through those things, whether that's a perfect husband, lifelong best friend, or secure career. When those desires aren't met, when the world hurts us and doesn't deliver on it's promises, we tend to mix it up and pin the blame on the God who always delivers on His promises.
Consider the Lord's prayer. In it, we say, “give us this day, our daily bread.” (See Matthew 6:9-13)
Our daily bread is not simply referring to bread or food.
Thank goodness, too, because Lord knows I don't need any more carbs!
Okay, but seriously, it's referring to all of our daily needs. So then, we can rest assured that all He gives us TODAY are the very best things for us and the very things we need most — even the hard things, even when those things don't feel good, and even when it seems to break our trust.
When we feel let down, we have to shift our thinking. The let down doesn't come from God's lack of trustworthiness. It comes from the lack of trustworthiness that lives within the illusive and finite things we put so much trust in. When we trust God with our daily bread, our daily needs, one hundred percent of the time, that let down will later prove to be the very best thing for us.
Think about it…
Had that boy not walked out of my life, I may not have learned to guard my heart wisely or I may not have met my husband years later.
Had that friend not hurt me, I may not have learned how to reconcile relationships or I may not have connected with other girls I ended up really leaning on the following year.
Had that picture perfect plan worked out, I wouldn't be writing this today. I would never have discovered what I truly loved or stepped into my true calling.
These aren't just coincidences. They're just not. Scripture affirms this reality over and over again. Check out Romans 8:28 which says, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,” and Job 13:15 which says, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”
In other words, even when everything goes haywire, when life feels totally twisted and chaotic, and when our hearts are crushed under the weight of pain, He is calling us into a deeper trust and hope that He will work out every piece of the story for His glory.
Girls, we can only learn to trust again when have our trust broken. The dependence we put in broken people, places, and plans has to be broken so that we can put it in the right hands – in the hands of the only One who sees the entire plan, in the One who is unbroken and totally trustworthy to give us the very best thing (even disappointment) each day.
We also have to be wise with our trust and how it is to function in the broken world. You and I could be incredibly trusting of everyone, everywhere. And that's nice but we might get walked all over, won't we? On the flip side, we can be an incredibly closed off, untrusting person. And that's safe but miserable, isn't it? Both ends of the spectrum are dangerous places to hang out.
So, then, we can only achieve the right balance of trust while still guarding our heart (Proverbs 4:23) when we place our full reliance and dependence on God, the One who sees our struggle and says, “hey girl, I got this. This pain you're walking through is the very best thing for you today. Just watch.”
10 times out of 10 He delivers on His promise to bring something good out of it for those who trust Him (Romans 8:28) and that's a promise we can believe in to be reliable, trustworthy, able, and strong.
The lie of broken trust says that if we become irrelevant and unimportant to people we thought would never hurt or leave us, then we must be irrelevant and unimportant to God. We tend to equate the broken love of sinners to the perfect love of a Savior.
So how do we trust without fear?
When we hope and trust in the broken love of sinners, fear will always follow close behind. However, when we place our hope and trust in the perfect love of Christ, something happens. Perfect love casts out fear in each and every situation we may face. Why? Because there is no fear in perfect love. (1 John 4:18)
So here's my dare for you: Stop putting all your hope, trust, reliance and dependence in the imperfect love of sinners (PS. this includes yourself) and start putting all your hope, trust, reliance and dependence in the perfect love of the Savior.
THAT is when your little heart will be free of the bondage that broken trust currently has on you.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man (Psalm 118:8).