Monday, March 28, 2011

Learning to Trust, Introduction: The Secret to Trust

Note: I have wanted to write a series like this for a while.  Some of these posts may be a tad lengthy, but I encourage you to read them and share your thoughts.  God bless!  ~  Rachel


“I have trust issues.”
I have said it to many people in many different circumstances.  Because I am a talkative, open person, no one expects those four words to ever come out of my mouth.  I’m the person who walks up to the stranger at church and introduces myself.  I’m the ice-breaker.  I’m the one with strong opinions.  I’m the one who has a smile for every person I meet.  I don’t keep my feelings hidden.  I’m willing to be vulnerable.  How on earth could I claim to have trust issues???
It’s actually quite easy to explain:  I’m a good actor.
No one’s going to discover my gift and ship me off to Hollywood.  I’m not that kind of actor.  I’m the kind that smiles and says she’s doing fine even when, if she was alone in her room, she would be crying like her heart was breaking into little, irretrievable pieces. 
Once, when I was in my mid-teens, I had an argument with my dad on the way to church.  I was angry, bitter, and crying.  I didn’t bite my tongue when I should have and I can still see the hurt on my father’s face as he looked straight ahead at the rode, his hands gripping the steering wheel all the tighter.  I can remember the stiff silence.  Hurt had bubbled underneath, simmering, unspoken for a long time.  Then, in that little car on a Wednesday night, it had burst out, filling the space with a heat that was stifling.  I can remember flipping down the mirror in front of me and wiping my eyes dry as we pulled into the church parking lot.  I swung my door open and left the small car with the crowding emotions.  I breathed deep and pulled out a smile.  All that evening the smile was there.  It was bold, seeming-real…  I laughed, I joked…  I asked how others were doing and told them how I was.  I was fine.  I was doing good…  at acting.
I could never tell them.  Why?
I could think of a million reasons: lack of understanding, people that said they’d call but never did, friends that promised “forever” but only spoke emptiness, fear of judgment, girls that said “I understand” but didn’t--couldn’t…  and on…
Like a newborn baby, my fists were clenched.  Inner screams raging.  I could not trust… I couldn’t…

I’d struggled with trust since I was little.  When I was still a young girl, my mother was told by her doctor that she had cancer.  A young husband, three little girls, and a newborn boy all waited for her at home that day.  I am the only child in my family that can remember that year.  Her cancer wasn’t deadly; she would “live to be one hundred and die of something else” she was told.  But that didn’t matter to me.  My mommy was sick.  People died of the sickness she had.  She had to leave a lot to see the doctors.  I had to hold the baby and feed him.
It was three years before I could leave my house overnight.  And it was even longer before I could leave without being fearful of losing her.  I couldn’t trust that she would be alright.  I had to know she was alright.  “God is with Mommy…  but I need to make sure it’s going to be alright.”  I couldn’t simply trust.

I went through several hurtful experiences in my teen years.  Some only slight stings.  Some deep burns that bled, festered, and bled more.  I wondered why I was always so tense.  Why my hands had to keep moving, keep busy.  Yesterday hurt.  Today was a war.  Tomorrow…  so full of doubts, fears…

I really got used to it.  There was something mysterious and dramatic about saying “I have trust issues”.  But what was I saying truly?  I need to feel special?  I hurt more than you because I’ve been hurt?  I’m this frail thing that deserves special consideration?  I have an excuse for the way I feel?
Yeah.  That’s what I was saying. 

Then I read, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…”

My response? I trust the Lord.  I mean, I'm a Christian!

Really trust though?  

No way!  I’ve trusted before.  It doesn’t pay off to trust.  It burns.  It makes hurts that could have been small so much deeper.

But I was told to trust… to put my confidence in… to hope in… to rely on… to not fear… to commit to…
To believe in.

I kept my hands moving.  If I didn’t, the honest truth would be revealed.  Like that baby, fresh from the womb, I curled my fists into balls.  My hands didn’t want to open, they wanted to shut out everything that hurt… so they closed.
“Trust,” my Lord told me… commanded me.
“NO!  You’ve seen what it’s done, Lord!  It hurts!”

BUT…
We do not have a Lord who is unable to sympathize with us…
Thank God.

God has shown me what it means to trust.  He has shown me because He knows me… He knows what reaches me, touches me.
And He has shown me the secret to trust.

Are you ready?

Thankfulness.

What?  Thankfulness?  Not a five-step theory on how to work on trust issues?  No, thank goodness.  I wouldn’t make it through something like that.
But, honestly, I have learned why I’ve struggled with trust.  I’m not thankful for all the amazing things God has done.  I have a selective memory.  I remember cancer, I remember broken friendships, I remember hopes deferred…  I don’t remember the life of my mother spared.  I don’t remember salvation.  I don’t remember my father’s tears of joy when I asked his forgiveness.  I don’t remember the hopes fulfilled.

I am ungrateful.  So I don’t trust.

When I think of thankfulness…  I think of the Last Supper; the last night Jesus would have with his friends and followers; the night He would be betrayed by one, denied by another, and deserted by the rest.  Out of all the things He could have done… what did He do?  First, He gives thanks.  Even with the hours of torment looming in the future- His knowledge of them-, He thanks God.  Then He breaks bread, pours wine, and tells His disciples to remember Him. 
I am also told to remember.  Remember His gift to me.  Remember the miracle of salvation.  Give thanks and remember…  wouldn’t the obvious result be trust in Him?  Remembering what God has done and thanking Him for it, all the time—even when things go wrong—every day, enables me to completely, fearlessly trust.  God has been faithful.  He will be faithful again.

Even when cancer eats away the body…  even when a heart is broken…  even when strife rules a household…  even when longings are never fulfilled… even when “whatever” is wrong—we have reason to give thanks.  Christ has paid the penalty for our sins, nailing them to the cross along with His innocent, precious Self.  We are promised His healing for yesterday, grace for today, and hope for tomorrow.  How can we… how can I not trust Him?

I may still struggle at times with trusting other finite beings; those who are subject to failure and destined to harm those closest.  But I am SO ready to throw away the crutch of my “trust issue”.  I can trust my Savior and He holds all of my moments, no matter what people cross my path.  With God as my help… with God as the foundation that will never fail… the One I will believe when blessings surround… the One I will trust even when pain falls like rain from the skies… with HIM as my God, I will love others.  I will never shut myself away from them for fear of being hurt.  It is only selfishness and forsaking my faith in God to do so.

So now I open my hands.  No longer clenched balls of doubt and fear and frustration.  Splayed open now.  Wide open.  Ready to receive.  Ready for the blessings of God, whatever form they take.  Like manna from the sky, I may wonder “What is it?” and not understand how this could possibly be a blessing, but I will still look up and eat it thankfully.  I will say yes to what comes. 
My hands are now open.  Trusting.

4 comments:

Melanie said...

Dear Rachel,

I loved this post...thank you so much for sharing! I did a post on trust a little while back on my blog Living Water for Broken Hearts. There is a beauty in being broken before God in order that He may draw us closer and say, "Just trust Me, My child. Just trust Me. Do not lean on your own understanding. Trust Me."

He is so faithful and true. His promises are sure...we can stand--we do stand --upon the Rock. Yes. Oh yes.

Thank you for sharing...so much!
In Christ,
Melanie

ashleyschnarr said...

This is a very good post. I really enjoyed it. I hadn't thought of trust and thankfulness as being linked together before but that's a really great observation. Thank you!

Nina said...

Thank you for writing this! God confirms the things that He is teaching me so faithfully... You are so right about thankfulness being tied to trust! I've been learning that in my own life. True trust will lead to thankfulness, because everything that happens to us is sifted through the Father's loving hand. Even when our circumstances bring pain, we can give thanks that God will use all things for good! :) Really, I think we all have trust issues, so I'm grateful that you're doing this series. (Interestingly, my church is doing a study through a book called "trusting God" right now! I know I need to keep hearing it!)

Kristin said...

Rachel,

Wow, that was very thought provoking and so honest... thanks for sharing. I look forward to future posts...

~Kristin