Reflections on trust
Posted by Simon Parke, 06 July 2018, 10.51am
Trust is sometimes presented as something we should try harder at.
‘You should trust more!’
But trust is never a matter of striving or straining.
Indeed, beware of those who say ‘You should trust more!’ There is no ‘should’ here.
Trust is a gift we are given, not a virtue we strive for.
If we trust someone, it is because they have proved themselves trustworthy.
They give us the gift of trust through their behaviour, repeated consistently.
Some people punish themselves for not trusting more, but this is inappropriate.
Trust is not something we do, but an attitude that is nurtured by real life experiences of consistency.
Instead of punishing ourselves, it might be helpful to reflect a little on our past.
If we have difficulties with trust - and many of us do - then probably we did not experience our environment as trustworthy when our brain was hard-wiring in our very early years.
To survive, we had to distrust, and it is difficult to shake that approach to life; it is difficult to ease away from the belief that this is somehow doing us good, protecting us.
It did once - but it doesn’t now.
Some people’s childhoods – lost to conscious memory but remembered in our bodies – makes trust very problematic in later life.
The memories are still there, hidden away in our unconscious.
These people will be more vulnerable to what they perceive as betrayal or abandonment by those around them.
Trust can create difficulties in relationships for these people, if it becomes attached to the ego, and something judgemental.
People will let us down. That’s a fact. Everyone will let us down at some point, in small or large ways.
If we trust them, we may feel angry, let down, disappointed, despairing, judgemental.
‘How could they do this to me? It’s not right!’
We may learn to trust someone, but we will trust with a lightness of touch, for trust is not the same as control.
They are no more reliable than we are. So we will trust… and we will not trust.
A trust in God - in the good unfolding of creation and the good unfolding of our lives - can bring calm and contentment.
But if we have issues around trust from our past, they will assuredly be projected onto God as well as those around us.
We don’t relate to God in a vacuum; we don’t relate to God any differently from those we live among; our past fractures are not erased in the divine relationship.
So we’ll need to be kind to ourselves, let go of self-punishing attitudes and remember trust is a gift, not a striving.
We’ll tend to drift in and out of trust; it will come and go and that’s OK.
Though when the trust is strong, in those moments, all is quite well in our lives, whatever is happening around us.
Such trust is the source of Julian of Norwich’s famous lines, ‘All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.’
We can help ourselves.
We can help ourselves by remembering the good rather than always going to the distrustful negative.
So many aspects of our lives can be reframed and seen in a fresh light, as we begin to parent ourselves, holding ourselves kindly.
So there are things we can do.
Though in the end, trust must arrive as a beautiful and moment-altering gift.