This post is comprised of thoughts I’ve had regarding trust over the past several months (sort of like a journal solely on this subject). If I was able, I would share the situations behind each of these thoughts to help you understand the inspiration of the thought, but because the events were shared with me in confidence, I cannot — so there! So, you just get to hear my after-thoughts on trust — please try to apply them to your own life’s relationships and I believe they will help you in your relationships. There are many aspects of trust. I’m writing these off of some notes, but as I detail these paragraphs I’m nearly in awe at how much trust is at the core of humans. Or maybe its just me — maybe trust is at my core. But I think its everyone — I think trust might be the backbone of all relationships.
Trust is earned. We all know that — but I think its easily forgotten. When kids critically say, “My parents don’t trust me” I want to smack them — because when I ask the follow up question, “Should your parents trust you?” or “If you were your parents, would you trust yourself?” the answer is always, “No.” This isn’t just a parent-child thing — this works in any relationship. If someone doesn’t trust you, there is probably a reason! In my example, the child needs to give the parents reasons to trust him.
I think we all have an element of “free trust.” I think I made this word up, so let me define it myself: Free trust is the trust that is given without any prior experience. It’s free, not earned. If I buy a stick of gum with a $10 bill, I trust that the candy vendor will give me my change so I hand him my $10 without reservation. That’s free trust. I think free trust is based on your position. I will give you free trust because of your position (i.e. shop clerk or friend, parent or child, pastor or counselor, mentor or protoge’, boss or employee).
One crazy thing about trust is that it only takes a single action to wipe away all trust. That really baffles me, honestly. Trust is so valuable and integrated into every interpersonal relationship — and one silly decision can wreck a life’s relationships because trust is lost.
There is an appropriate blend of “earned” and “free” trust. You earn my trust because of past experiences. I give you free trust because of your position. These things occur simultaneously — and there must be a blend. Dysfunctional relationships will begin when there is an imbalance between these two trusts. For example, imagine an underage child who repeatedly attempts suicide and gets caught with cigs, beer, and marijuana on multiple occasions. After each incident the parents decide that since the son said, “I’ll change” they should simply give him the free trust and move on, after all – he does hold the position of “son.” That’s stupid. Those parents need to start using some more earned trust and kick the child’s butt. He needs sent to a boarding school or something before he actually succeeds in killing himself. Those parents need to not trust their son because they love him. But evidently they’re stupid, so they trust unconditionally.
Trust Is Awesome
When you’re able to trust other people it just rocks. I’ll never forget my high school band director Terry Fisher. He had this incredible ability to just trust people at the very first moment he met them. He would then continue to trust and respect you until you gave him a reason to not be trusted. But until you gave him a reason to not trust you, he would bend over backwards to help you succeed. I have never had a teacher who cared about me more than Mr. Fisher. I made the comment to him once, “Mr. Fisher, you actually trust people.” He responded, “I have to. I can’t get anything done if I don’t trust other people. Besides – that’s no way to live. You’ve gotta trust people.”
I don’t think Mr. Fisher ever knew how much he taught me that day. It revolutionized the way I looked at relationships. When I actually trusted people, the world started ticking better. Trust is relying on the humanity of another individual. Today I have several people that I whole-heartedly trust with different positions — protoge’s, friends, family, pastors, etc.
The more I trust these people, the more they trust me. And that is a beautiful thing. That’s the backbone of relationships.