Feature: Developing Genuine Trust For One Another --- Part I
In addition to powerful words such as “love”, “faith”, and “hope” that top the list of the greatest and most gracious words that stir up encouragement, acceptance, juicy emotions, and positive desires of mankind, one of the most popular words in our daily communication and transactions is the word “trust”. Who does not want to be trusted? No one! When you speak and add the phrase “trust me” in an emphatic way, or look into the eyes of someone looking for assurance from you and then say it to him or her, or whisper it softly into the ears of your lover alongside a promise, then it becomes a sealed deal. When serious matters are at stake, you get hurt and could even become devastated when a beloved one doubts your integrity. Under such circumstances you are most likely to swing into a disappointed mode with an exclamation “don’t you trust me!?”
The worst thing that could happen in any marriage or romantic relationship is when the partners do not trust each other. If one partner feels offended, or becomes suspicious in any kind of relationship or association and does not trust the other partner, it creates insecurity for the other partner under scrutiny, and it becomes very difficult for him or her to trust the other skeptical partner as well.
If you go into homes, businesses, work places, institutions, churches, and the streets of the world, and conduct a survey to determine the root causes of dissatisfaction, disagreements, doubts, and lack of support for people, you are likely to find that on top of the list of complaints about a fiancée, spouse, parent, child, in-law, friend, colleague, family member, community leader, chief, politician, boss, employee, business partner, teacher, student, pastor, leader in a church, ministry partner etc. will be the statement “I do not trust him (or her)”. Each one of us craves to be trusted, including even the criminal on trial.
STOP LOOKING AROUND TO GRAB SOME TRUST --- STRIVE TO EARN YOUR OWN TRUST
I would like us to engage in important discussions centered on “Trust”. The first point I wish to drive home is that trust is earned like a certificate --- we do not simply give you trust like food on a platter or ice cream from a fridge. You earn trust only by your lifestyle and the character you portray to the one whose trust you are yearning for. I could try to “give you some amount of trust” to begin with, but will find it very difficult to continue doing so if you exhibit a pattern of insincerity, dishonesty, wastefulness, callousness, apathy, mixed with unloving and uncaring double-tongued way of life. It will be an uphill task for me to trust you if you cannot keep important secrets of mine (or ours) to yourself, become cynical and sarcastic about serious matters, and throw demeaning or senseless ridicules at me.
All of us will admit that trust is a primary foundation for all meaningful and productive relationships, as well as business, institutional, and organizational establishments. Without trust we cannot break through our differences and unite as one people to achieve anything important. Present world circumstances have promoted much distrust in our societies, especially matters pertaining to marriage, romantic relationships, in-law relations, business, money, property, ministry, and positions of authority. Many of us are scared of being pushed over the cliff if we trustingly come too close to some people who are close to us. I conclude from the many questions I receive, and counseling that I engage in, that many spouses and lovers are hopelessly devastated by their partners whom they cannot trust. Sometimes there is not even a tiny chunk of any wisdom or trust block that one can chew on in order to make sense out of what is going on ---- wanton infidelity, addiction to pornography and harlotry rather than bonding lovingly to the wonderful spouse in the home, financial dishonesty and recklessness, abuses, outrageously un-loving and lazy attitude especially at home, gross apathy, mummy-like unromantic lifestyle, constantly finding fault with everything you say and do, and worst of all the crafty and dishonest monkey tricks to get away with wrongdoing, when the other partner is doing his or her best to make things work in the relationship. Some people make you feel as if they are constantly setting traps, and you are the mouse they intend to catch!
Too many people have exhibited dishonesty and unfaithfulness in the essential aspects of life, and caused many of us to become too careful and very skeptical about our neighbors. We make sweet promises to people that we finally do not keep ---- our word cannot be trusted ---- we lack integrity. Many of us cannot trust friends and partners who betray us, and who cannot be confided in to keep someone’s secrets really secret. It is especially devastating when they give you lofty promises and cause you to repose much trust in them and share the deep precious contents of your hearts, believing that they are really on your side, will genuinely look out for you, and are dependable, but turn around to stab you in the back.
We are living in an era when people have witnessed so much corruption in high places to the point where nobody, for example, seems to trust any politician anymore.
Of course we are not to foolishly swallow every seemingly juicy fruit or embrace any glittering toy given to us by anyone without careful examination; we need to exercise wisdom and insight. However, if we get to the point where we live in suspicion all the time and cannot trust anybody, then we have a serious problem on hand that we need to address the issue by finding the root of the problem and deal with it effectively. It is sad when you hear people firmly proclaiming: “As for me I don’t trust anybody”. But, making that statement your anthem and motto, do you want anyone to trust you? We find it difficult to trust people in important areas of life because of the escalated lack of integrity in our era. So, why not decide to work on yourself and become an example to all of us as someone that we can trust, in order for us to emulate your shining example and become trustworthy?
OUR TIMES ARE DISTRUSTINGLY ROUGH! INTEGRITY AND FAITHFULNESS ARE RARE ON THE RELATIONSHIP MARKET!
The problem hits us really hard when we cannot trust someone that we have to work closely with, and cannot easily get rid of (or isolate ourselves from) in a close relationship (such as a marriage partner, teacher in the classroom, business associate that we have joint investment with, a fiancée in whom we have invested heavily, fellow members on the board of a church or organization, a tenant or landlord, a fellow elected into public office, someone we have sold property to etc.).
Just imagine a prominent politician who divorced his wife and the wife later found out that the husband had written somewhere in a draft of a book he was writing that he married his wife for political gains. Another dear sister had a nice wedding with another beloved Christian brother in a good church, and a few years later realized the man did not want to make love to her anymore and left her alone in the bedroom to sleep in the living room, and got the stunning confession from him that he was a homosexual even before they married, and had been attending homosexual meetings all along, and would want to rather become committed to that old lifestyle. Then why did he marry her? Was it a plan to make her life miserable? How can she ever trust any man again?
Moral decay, materialism, competition, selfishness, unwillingness to work hard for ultimate results, and lack of commitment to duty or people’s welfare, have all become powerful negative tools that promote distrust in our societies. In summary, I believe that the lack of a God-fearing spirit, based on obedience to God’s word, imbibitions of false doctrines, involvement in occult practices that promote satanic activities and other evils, greed, and the desire to operate with untruthful principles, are taking their devastating toll on mankind today. These maladies and infections are promoting the breeding grounds for deceitful words, actions, attitudes, and motives that are eroding trust in our generation.
TRUST IS DETERMINED BY YOUR STATE OF MIND AND HEART, FAITH, AND LOVE
Since marriage, home, and family life form the foundation of society, we can focus our discussion on trust with our spotlight on matters of close relationships, involving love, romance, home, and family life. No marriage, family life, home, or close relationship can be classified as fruitful and successful if the people involved in the relationship do not trust each other. Love is the key factor for the establishment of any successful marriage, productive family life, joyful home, warm fellowship, and satisfying friendship, where trust must also be an indispensable ingredient. Love is therefore the key factor for the establishment of trust in any form of relationship. That is why Jesus commanded us to: “love one another (as the basis of our relationships) as I (Jesus) have loved you” (St. John 13: 34).
Under no circumstances can two or more people live, work, or fellowship together without trusting each other. Lack of trust implies doubt and uncertainty about the integrity and suitability of the person or persons you are dealing with, which implies that you have no faith in your interactions. Under such circumstances, there is no way you can give all of yourself to the person and to the relationship and build true loyalty for a successful relationship.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6).
Scripture makes it clear that trust must begin and develop in the heart (center of your soul). This will depend on your state of mind (understanding), and will be further demonstrated by the extent to which you depend on God and consult Him for wisdom and direction in all that you plan and do (your ways and paths). If we do not learn to trust God with our hearts and minds, then we cannot sincerely and consistently trust our fellow human beings. Couples and family members who do not trust God would not also experience any appreciable measure of genuine trust in their marriages, parent-child relationships, in-law relations, and general family life. They would not be able to easily forgive offences and get past them to develop good relationships with people. Little offences would always throw them off balance and quickly break any trust they have for their partners and family members, or friends.
In Proverbs chapter 31 where the virtuous (ideal) wife is defined and described for us, her characteristics begin with trust in the heart of her husband for her as a trusted and helpful wife of integrity.
“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her” (Proverbs 31: 10, 11).
The woman must talk, act, and behave in a way that would cause the heart of her husband to trust her. The husband should know that he is the Head of the woman and the family, and must set the pace with his good example of a lifestyle that would encourage the wife and rest of the family to emulate his good example of trustworthiness.
It is the person (wife) that you trust, and not just things the person (wife) does, although the person’s acts, behavior, and possessions will promote the trust. Your trust should not be conditional all the time ---- “when you do what please me at a particular time, then I trust you.” Well, remember that we are all human, and can make unintentional mistakes from time to time, which should not necessarily determine the trust we fundamentally have for one another, if we are already convinced about each other’s real character.
What we actually need to do is to take time to know each other, understand one another, love each other sincerely, and work together in such a way that if you have sincerely developed trust for me, then one mistake or offence on my part should not instantly erode all of your trust for me, no matter the good things I do after my mistake, and no matter the extent of my repentance.
Some people fake loyalty, but you should take pains to know me enough and decide if I am real or fake, before you go very far with me, so that you can trust me enough for us to live and work together peacefully and happily in the midst of our human weaknesses and failures.
If a woman earns the trust of her husband in his heart (seat of emotions and center of his soul), abundant love is triggered and nourished to flow freely from his heart to his wife. Women were naturally wired by God to respond favorably to the initial love of men. I can assure you that at least 95% of the time, if a man genuinely and practically loves and trusts a woman, he will receive love and trust in return from that woman. I know that some men are saying: “Wait a minute! You should have been her to see the kind of impossible woman I have in my life!” Well, no matter what spouse you have, remember it is Christmas time, and the last words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary (Mother of Jesus) was: “With God NOTHING shall be impossible” (Luke 1: 37). So trust God, and continue to work on yourself, as you consistently love and work on your spouse.
When the wife responds properly to her husband’s unconditional love and trust, unprecedented security is created in the relationship, and both of them feel very safe in each other’s arms and company.
I believe that this is the foundation as well as the beginning of any genuine husband-wife relationship that has true love and meaning. This sets the tone for love and leadership in the family, when Daddy sincerely trusts Mommy in his heart, and enables Mommy to trust Daddy also in her heart. The reciprocal (two-way) trust enables both of them to allow each other the freedom to develop their gifts and talents to their full potential, grow into each other in deeper love and trust, strengthen the marriage bond, and transfer the spirit and values to the children and rest of the family. It then becomes difficult for anyone to come between them to interfere with their relationship. This is the only way to promote fruitfulness and success of any marriage and family life, and for every other human relationship to flourish as well.
Faith also plays a huge role in the development of trust. If you do not believe in me and accept me faithfully as I am, and have confidence in my abilities, then you can never trust me. You will constantly exercise doubts and misgivings about my capabilities to accomplish anything good, or work and bring any job to successful completion.
Your thoughts determine what is finally conceived and felt in the heart. To become virtuous, ideal, or a trustworthy companion, you should therefore:
- Work diligently on your mind in order to sow good and godly thoughts into your mind, especially about the person you need to trust.
- Allow your heart to trust the one you are relating to, and discipline your heart to maintain the sincerity of the trust.
- Make a conscious effort to remember the needs and interests of your mate or friend, and determine to freely share your mind and heart in heart-to-heart conversation with the person you have decided to join your life to.
- Avoid any future thoughts or acts of distrust that would hinder complete unity, agreement, and trust in your marriage or relationship.
When someone closes the heart and does not open up to you, hides his or her true feelings and thoughts from you, lives a life of secrecy or insincerity, and exhibits a life of selfishness and self-centeredness, it becomes extremely difficult to trust, relate to, or marry such a person. We need to know that every heart has a door, which you can open or close. Your mind is the key to open your heart. You have to intentionally decide to allow your good and godly feelings and emotions to consistently flow towards your lover, family member, friend, or colleague in a positive and productive way.
Until you decisively open up your heart to me, we shall never be free with each other. In fact, we might even develop constant fear and suspicion for each other all the days of our life and obtain pain and dissatisfaction rather than joy and happiness in our relationship.
THE VALUE AND BENEFITS OF TRUST
There are immense benefits of trust that we tragically miss in our relationships because of ignorance, selfishness (desire to possess it all), unwillingness to make sacrifices, and a spirit of pride that would not submit to the needs and welfare of the other person.
The trust in your heart for someone who is close to you produces at least 15 benefits (or virtues) I have identified:
- Sincerity ---- Trust stimulates you to easily open up your mind and heart to one another, accommodate and tolerate each another, and tell the truth to one another.
- Loyalty ---- Absolute trust enables you become so committed to each other that you constantly strive to remain faithful to one another in the relationship.
- Faith ---- You interact and do things with the person without fear, hesitation, and doubt.
- Confidence ---- You derive courage and inner boldness for your activities in the relationship.
- Genuine love ---- Trust deepens the love between any two people. You constantly look out for the best interest and welfare of each other, and share all things freely for mutual benefit.
- Forgiveness ---- When an offence is committed, it becomes easier to forgive someone that you trust, than someone you distrust. Sometimes we even get angry or scared that offering him or her forgiveness will encourage the one to “go on deceiving you, cheating on you, and fooling around.”
- Warm fellowship (especially conversation) ---- You always desire and enjoy each other’s company, pray and share scripture together, converse and share good information together, support each other, and enjoy meeting each other’s needs.
- Intimacy ---- You develop closeness (physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual).
- Security (safety) ---- You feel safe and protected by the strong believe that the one in whose hands you have entrusted yourself in absolute commitment for a permanent relationship, will never fail nor betray the trust you have reposed in him or her in any way, and under no circumstance.
- Peace (tranquility) ---- You have a deep sense of peace as you trustingly live with the person and expose yourself fully to the one, firmly believing that God has ultimately given you a true companion for fruitfulness and progress.
- Joy (inner satisfaction) ---- You develop inner gratification and true joy in your heart as you relate to the person and enjoy sweet fellowship with the one.
- Motivation ---- You are encouraged to discover and improve upon your talents and gifts, when the person you are interacting with encourages and affirms you with his or her trust. You are further stimulated to seek for new ways of doing things in order to become a greater blessing and make the relationship more successful and satisfying. You are motivated to fellowship and work more with the person, and constantly trust him or her to team up with you in your efforts.
- Sacrifices ---- When you happily and willingly trust someone, you go the extra mile to make any necessary sacrifices for the production of any results that are necessary for the welfare of that person. A spouse who does not trust his or her partner, would hesitate or even refuse to use money and resources for the benefit of his or her mate. Lack of trust is one major root causes of denials and refusals to make love and become romantic in many marriages and love relationships. Several women disclose that they go beyond distrust to even exercise fear for their husbands because of the thought of bringing them nasty diseases and microbial infections from other women that the men engaged in adulterous acts with.
- Blessings of God ---- When there is total trust, it means there is total unity, which invites the blessings and visitation of God into the relationship and more grace of the Lord for success in all activities. God commands special grace and blessings where there is humility, unity, and peace (Psalm 133:1-3; 1 Peter 5:5, 6).When we do not trust each other and live in doubt and bitterness, how can we even pray together and expect God to answer our prayers with any blessings?
- Strong family ---- Any family without trust between the spouses or parents will never grow to maturity, and will never develop into a strong family. Parenting will be poor in such a home. The weakness becomes an open avenue for forces of evil to attack and weaken the family even more. The forces sometimes succeed in devastating the couple and the children with separation, divorce, neglect, poverty, evil practices, family feuds, abuses, and even accidents and death.
No husband can claim that he is genuinely committed to his wife and children, loves, and cares for them, when he does not sincerely trust his wife and children in his heart. Let us do honest self-examination from time to time. The situation is even worse when the husband is not sincere with his affairs, and does not make his wife the number one lover or person in his life. The wife must also work on her trust of her husband and children, and ensure that she is in the life of the husband as a genuine lover and hard working helper for his success as God originally ordained.
Some delinquent mothers do not even make enough time for their homes and families, and leave a lot of the house activities and care for the children to be done by their sisters, mothers, in-laws, and housemaids. Such misguided wives become busybodies in clubs, religious activities, career pursuits, and fruitless chitchat, or become engrossed in a global chase after goods and endless trading ventures (that is nicely glorified as ‘business’). Some supposedly “enlightened” wives (the majority traveled overseas before) decide to abandon our rich godly and traditional values by harboring the notion that they are not responsible for cooking in their marital homes; they assert that the husband should not expect meal preparation as a marital or family obligation. We agree that men must learn to cook as well, and even assist the wife in the kitchen as needed, but the woman must be proud to be the manager of meals (and all forms of nourishment), tidiness, care, and hospitality in the home. Well, that is another topic for us to discuss in the future, but feminine un-loving ideas and behavior such as the shirking of domestic meal responsibilities, can be great source of frustration, anger, temptation to seek for ‘better love’ outside the home, and subsequent mistrust. It could also become bad example for growing children who would be confused about the definite domestic nurturing role of a real wife and mother to her family.
A wife might not trust her husband because of a past offence --- typically adultery, blatant lies, life of secrecy, not making time for the wife or children, cheating the woman financially, encouraging in-law interferences, and abuses. She might find it hard to deal with the mistrust even when the events are past. But, no matter what has happened in the past, we can always work on ourselves to get past the offence or disappointment, and trust each other again.
A man could say to a woman: “I trust you”, with his mouth, but not really mean it in his heart. The same situation applies to a woman who claims to trust her husband but does so only with her lips. Genuine trust in the heart is the basis of a godly relationship that is directed and controlled by the Spirit of God, and which ultimately produces happiness and satisfaction in our marriages, romantic relationships, and all associations.
Sweet trust will not just hit you like chicken pox! You have to sacrifice and work haaaaaaard to get it!!
As we round up activities for 2009, let us start preparing for great relationships, resounding victories, and remarkable successes in 2010 by working on genuine trust for people, especially in our homes, marriages, families, and for our fiancées, which should then extend to friends and colleagues at school, on the job, in church, ministries, our leaders, heads of corporations, organizations, our government, communities, and our nation as a whole.
This will happen only when we take a firm decision to develop personal integrity, upright character, truthful speech, keeping of promises, principled living, godliness, sincere love for people, sharing of available resources, diligence to tackle and complete our required tasks, accepting responsibility for our actions, resolving any outstanding conflicts, developing a spirit of forgiveness, abiding in holiness and purity, and total dependence on God’s word and His power day by day, in such a way that people will be spontaneously stimulated, motivated, and fueled to believe in us and trust us more.