Trust: The Relationship Builder

He looked me square in the eye, and with determination and sweet love, he asked, “Do you really want to do this? Now’s the time if you need to change your mind.” My arm fit perfectly underneath my Dad’s arm and I looked back at him direct, our matching green eyes looking intently into each other’s souls.

“Yes, Dad.”

“Okay, MegBeth.” He smiled, with a strange sort of smile and tears in his eyes. We turned, my arm still tucked loving under his, and walked slowly behind the trail of bridesmaids in crimson gowns, who led the way to the man I was going to marry.

I now understand my Dad’s strange smile. At that moment, I was no longer under his protection. No longer a Daddy’s girl. I would no longer run to him first for safety, wisdom or advice. I had finally found a man worthy of my trust. And I was choosing him.

I had all the reasons not to trust: other boyfriends had cheated… pushed me past my boundaries… slandered and gossiped about me to others. But this man was different.

He had a boyish charm, light blue eyes that were full of warmth, and a smile that made my heart beat faster. But more than anything… it was a choice on my part to trust him that sealed the deal.

And it was the scariest walk I’ve ever had to take with my Dad.

Thoughts of the future… will we stay best friends as we had been the last two years? Will he forgive me when I mess up, again and again? Will he seek forgiveness and apologize even when he’s beyond angry? Will we have heartache and hurt between us? Will we have children and will they complicate or strengthen our relationship?

I now know the answers to all of the questions that were darting through my mind as I put one foot in front of another, while my Dad held me gently under his arm. Since then, Michael has broken my trust. And yet- would I still make that choice almost 17 years ago? Yes.

So, there I was (17 years ago) standing next to a man who barely looked his age, who couldn’t wait to take my hand from my father’s.

It was in those moments that led up to right then, that I was choosing to trust. Choosing to take a man’s hand to lead me into the next stage of our lives. I had no clue what the future held. I didn’t know that I would cry wretched sobs over this man. But, I made a choice. Just a choice. My thoughts and emotions had no pull either way. I decided to choose. Nothing more.

Trust Is…

So… what is trust? And is it something that we are born with? Or is it something that grows within us? Does it depend on nature or nurture?

To rely on the integrity, strength, ability, surety of a person or thing is what trust is defined as. You could also say it’s having confidence in someone or something.

According to a thesis “Nature versus Nurture: Is Trust Innate or Learned? An Analysis on Human Capital Determining Trustwritten by Deanne Lorraine C. Dummo and Mary Kristine P. Rabe, it was determined that trust was innate, and not learned. So… we are genetically disposed or indisposed to be trusting. That’s pretty crazy- but it gives us a window into knowing ourselves inwardly. It may be harder for you to trust- by nature. Or easier!

So… what is trust worth? Do we need it to survive?

Essentially… yes. Trust is what holds families, organizations, and nations together. There needs to be an element of trust to keep any kind of relationship together. We may not realize the importance of trust… until it’s gone. Trust builds camaraderie in groups/churches/sports and with those shared interests, and builds until it seems as though the “organization” moves and breathes as if it’s its own organism. 

 

To Trust or Not to Trust

So- why do we choose not to trust?

We base people’s intentions on their actions… and not always on their words. Growing up in Nebraska, when someone gave you their word, it meant that they would follow through. You can imagine when I moved to Missouri for college, and assumed that people’s word would always hold true. I learned pretty quickly, that it didn’t. I had to begin to base who I trusted on whether their actions lined up with their words… or not.

My mom used a phrase once, “They talked the talk, but didn’t walk the walk.” I’ve found this is more reliable than relying on anyone’s word now. Which is really sad… the words we speak… don’t mean anything. We have to base our trust on the actions of those we’re looking to trust and whether their actions match their words.

When we choose to trust someone or something, we are opening ourselves up to vulnerability. By giving our trust, we are allowing them the chance to hurt us, whether intentional or not. And, by golly- we are not going to be hurt- right? Put yourself first- isn’t that the motto of the world right now? I mean- come on people… it doesn’t get more self-centered than that.

But, when it comes down to it- it’s just a decision. We choose to trust… or not to. It’s simple.

Squash Growing Distrust

And when we feel that distrust begin to bubble up from our guts, nerves or emotions- we need to choose to get rid of it. And I honestly don’t know how that would work for you. But for me? I usually pray first.

Step One: Pray First

There are moments in my marriage, even now after 16 ½ years, that I feel distrust crop up in my heart towards Michael. It has nothing to do with insecurity… or his integrity. It has to do with the spiritual war that’s raging around us. It can also crop up when our expectations are not met. We must be on our toes when remembering that we are in a spiritual battle all the time. 

Ephesians 6:12 says:

Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings, but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms. For they are a powerful class of demon-gods and evil spirits that hold this dark world in bondage.

So, when I sense distrust in my relationship- I pray. And if it doesn’t go away, I immediately talk to Michael. I treat all other relationships and friendships in the same way. The Deceiver is a master at dividing the church, families, and friends. Which brings me to the next step.

 

Step 2: Start Talking

Bringing things that are in the dark, into the light, always works. It always brings healing and health back into a relationship. If you’re struggling to trust someone you should be able to trust, talk to them about it.

Ephesians 5:13:

But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible…”

Now, don’t get me wrong… when you bring things into the light, you need to check yourself before you start talking. Make sure that you have good intent and are seeking wisdom and unity in your relationship. If you focus on healing and reconciliation with God’s help and leading from the Holy Spirit, health should be restored.

Step 3: Leave It With God

I don’t fully understand why distrust happens. But, when I give my distrust to God… he almost always is faithful to help me work through it in every aspect of my being. And if there’s one being that we can trust- it’s God. Man is flawed… but God is not. We can continuously trust in Him over ALL OTHERS.

One of my favorite verses of all times (I have it taped to the mirror in my bathroom) is 1 Peter 5:6-7. The way it’s written in The Passion Translation (check out my post on versions and translations here!) is pretty neat.

If you bow low in God’s awesome presence, he will eventually exalt you as you leave the timing in his hands. Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.

The key here is- once you’ve given your distrust to God, you can’t take it back. (See next step 🙂

Who to Trust?

When I began searching through Scripture for how to deal with distrust or even trust for that matter, I found something interesting. Almost all the results point to trust in Father God and his Son, Jesus.

Step 4: Trust God

Trust in the Lord completely,

and do not rely on your own opinions.

With all your heart rely on him to guide you,

and he will lead you in every decision you make.

Become intimate with him in whatever you do,

and he will lead you wherever you go.

Don’t think for a moment that you know it all,

for wisdom comes when you adore him with undivided devotion

and avoid everything that’s wrong.

Then you will find the healing refreshment

your body and spirit long for.

Proverbs 3:5-8

If we can’t trust our own opinions, then who can we trust but God? We need to remember to allow God to lead us in every decision in our lives. That’s a tough thing to write- even tougher to live it out.

When we look further into scripture in a handful of times, the authors of the Bible wrote about the shaky choice to trust money over God and another time how the disciples trusted Judas Iscariot, the disciple who then betrayed Jesus. Hmmmm….

So, it’s clear that if we trust money over God, it will fail us. And sometimes, if we trust another human being, they could betray us. It is possible. (In the book of John, chapter 2, it mentions that Jesus didn’t entrust himself to his followers yet, because he knew that the hearts of men were fickle. Whoa!)

So, in the end… we have a choice to make.

Step 5: Choose to Trust

In this day and age, trust is hard to find. When we’ve been hurt over and over by people we’ve loved, it can be hard to let down your walls. But you’re gonna have to if you want any fulfilling and loving relationships.

Sometimes, a phrase just sums it up. 

Suck it up, buttercup. 

If you want solid relationships, you’ve got to trust. First God. Then the person.

 

 

What’s the Deal with Context?

I remember it vividly. A well-known and loved professor screaming at the top of his lungs, “CONTEXT IS KING!” At first, I had no idea what he was talking about. I felt out of the loop, like he had this private club that I didn't have the key to. But the more I learn...

Finding the Kingdom During Covid 19

Finding the Kingdom During Covid 19

March 2020

I sat with a towel twisting my wet hair up on our bed, back in our master, while our worship pastor, our children’s director and my husband sat no more than 10 yards away and I listened to their honest, pure, worship. Tears began to fill behind my eyes and threatened to stream down my face. The words that rang throughout my house were, “You are making all things new…” And yet, as I sat in bed with a fever and a desperation to heal quicker, I knew and loved that my church was still being a church.

In the Confusion

This time with the craziness of Covid-19 has been a whirlwind or as some have referred to as being like the movie, Groundhog’s Day… over and over. Social media has gone RIDICULOUS with people now having free time to spout off their thoughts and ideas about the situation (I’ve seen an immense amount of good come out of our situations) but this morning… I could just be… and listen… and softly sing to my King while no one watched. Honestly, I could barely get the words out. Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to amidst all of this chaos and disorder:

  • I’ve found peace where once my heart was jumbled and stressed.
  • I’ve been able to breathe, really breathe in, and experience pure joy with my kids daily.
  • I’ve been able to dig into Scripture and geek out to the possibilities I find there.
  • I’ve been able to worship with no one watching.
  • I’ve been able to spend time reaching out to my church family more regularly to ask for or pray for them.
  • I’ve watched my kids settle in and just be… without the crazy amount of time constraints they used to have.
  • I’ve been able to see all of my church family’s faces via Zoom and laugh with them.
  • I’ve watched our church family come together in a tighter knit community to support and love on each other even virtually.

Chaos and the Church

It’s not the same… we can’t meet together collectively. It’s not normal… we aren’t allowed to worship together in the same room anymore. It’s not even similar… we are spending church virtually instead of spending next to flesh and blood. But here’s the thing… we are meeting separately… but we are together in spirit.

We’ve got to let go our our stubbornness… our resentment for how things were handled… our need to want things our way… and move into a time of healing, rest, and thankfulness that we live in a time and age where we can still meet- even if virtually.

I think back to one of the first Sunday’s after Jesus’ death. We find the disciples and Jesus’s followers spread out all over the city of Jerusalem… hiding. Some followers had even left the city and were headed home to Emmaus. But when Jesus finally appears to them in Luke 24, they think he’s a ghost. They can’t even believe he’s back!

The Kingdom they thought was coming… didn’t.

The life they thought Jesus had alluded to- was completely upside down.

I mean- the guy they’d been following around had been preaching of a new Kingdom… and then, whelp, he was killed. And now, they were huddled in a house, just waiting for something and thinking that there was no way this Kingdom was going to happen anymore.

“Then he said to them, “Don’t you remember the words that I spoke to you when I was still with you? I told you that everything written about me would be fulfilled, including all the prophecies from the law of Moses through the Psalms and the writings of the prophets—that they would all find their fulfillment.”  He supernaturally unlocked their understanding to receive the revelation of the Scriptures,  then said to them, “Everything that has happened fulfills what was prophesied of me. Christ, the Messiah, was destined to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.  Now you must go into all the nations and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins so that they will turn to me. Start right here in Jerusalem.  For you are my witnesses and have seen for yourselves all that has transpired. And I will send the fulfillment of the Father’s promise to you. So stay here in the city until the mighty power of heaven falls upon you and wraps around you.”

Here’s what’s crazy about us humans: we think we’re soooo smart. The disciples thought it was all over when their Savior was killed (and who’s to say we wouldn’t have thought the same?) They thought the Kingdom that Jesus preached, would never rise up. And yet, it did.

The Kingdom is happening around us. I’m seeing it in the faces of people who are selflessly dropping off food on our porch so that my husband doesn’t have to scramble to make dinner for all of us after taking care of us all day. I hear it in the voices worshipping from my living room. I receive it from the texts and social media messages that encourage and build me up with promises of prayer and healing. I read about it through the words of my King in scripture. I feel the Kingdom when I pray while weeping when no one is watching. It is all around us. God is with us.. even when we feel like church isn’t normal. The Kingdom is here… do you feel it?

Jealousy: The Relationship Killer

Jealousy: The Relationship Killer

I could feel it creeping up. That feeling that makes you almost feel green… like an alien in your own body. I watched her curl her brunette locks and effortlessly wind it up into a perfect messy bun (and this was before the time of the “messy bun…”). She turned with a smile, and in that moment, I made the choice to let go of my jealousy. To just be her friend. It was hard, and it sometime creeped up again… but I’m glad I fought through it. We remain friends to this day… and I’m a better person with her in my life.

Looking back at my childhood and teen friendships, I notice pattern after pattern. And even now, in our 18 years of ministry, women come with tears in their eyes and frustration in their voices. The biggest question I am asked in regards to women and relationships has nothing to do with marriage.

“Why can’t we just be friends?”

These same words spilled out of my mouth to my Mom as I navigated the friendship game in my growing up years. The questions that flowed after that mostly came down to…”Is she mad at me? Why doesn’t she invite me over anymore? I think I heard her whispering about me behind my back…” and these questions and statements were just the beginning. Too many nights I cried my eyes out wondering who my true friends were. And honestly? I’ve done it as an adult while my husband listened.

This jealousy keeps women from building friendships that could blossom into something powerful.

As a good friend so eloquently put it, we as women can be very jealous of each other, in every possible way. This jealousy keeps women from building friendships that could blossom into something powerful. Isn’t that the truth?

Another good friend of mine pointed out, we need strong relationships with women, especially when we’re not surrounded by family. You will need friends who have your back and will support you through hard times. They become your sisters.

Too often we miss potential friendships and sisterhoods because of our own jealousy towards other women. Maybe they have a better job, or their kids are better behaved… or maybe they just have kids. Maybe they were picked for the leadership role at church that you wanted. Jealousy can be as trivial as the fact that they can make a perfect “messy bun.” (Remember my previous story??) Why are we letting these things hold us back? We know that no one is perfect. We choose to let our own insecurities and jealousies drive us away from each other… and division is only caused by one being… Satan.

Don’t miss potential friendships!

The biggest complaint we’ve heard from women since planting a church is how hard it is to break into community with the other women at church. Some have joined our church and then immediately think that there is a “friend clique” in place already… when that is a perception they walk in our doors with. Too many times, I hear women complain that they have no supportive community to speak of… but then in turn, they won’t show up to bible study… or discipleship groups… or any church events where women are desperately trying to find community. It seems preposterous to me. Unintelligent. And self-damaging. Why is it so hard to get women to be friends?

Why is it so hard to get women to be friends?

I understand that some women are introverts. But at some point, all women must choose for themselves to take a step or a leap of faith. Believe God that He will watch over you even when you’re in awkward situations. Trust that community is what God desires for us.

There are also women who are so extroverted that they believe that people don’t like them because they are so outwardly opinionated or very driven.

Ladies. It doesn’t matter who we are at our core. We need to give each other some grace in knowing that none of us are perfect. None of us ever will be.

I myself am a self-forced extrovert… because I’ve learned that I won’t have community if I don’t try. If it were up to me, I would stay home all day, every day… cleaning, writing, playing with my kids, painting furniture… the list goes on. I love being at home. But I love the feeling of family/community I get from those that surround me at church on Sunday more. I love feeling that taste of heaven that lifts you up when you have friends laying hands on you in prayer. I love it when I can laugh and joke with friends over a meal after we’ve dreamed about the vision that God has laid on our hearts. I love community with the body of Christ more than my own selfish wants and desires.

The Missing Element

Cliques have no place in Church. Why? Because we’re not a high school. We’re not a middle school. We’re a family… broken and healing… where love, grace, truth, and forgiveness are always sought after. At least that’s what we are CALLED to do. And if we can’t PERSONALLY seek after that… then we are missing out on eternal life here and now; the kind Jesus talked about. (But more on that later!)

I think we’re missing out on something in our Christian walk that we think we’re really good at, but we’re missing it… completely.

There’s a passage of scripture that is quoted FREQUENTLY… and yet, I think, we have yet to master it. And the evidence of this is obvious if we are still failing in our friendships and relationships.

 Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.  Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (TPT)

Here’s our main relationship killer. Our lack of love for each other. If we truly loved the way Christ loved us… jealousy would be a distant memory. If we focused on love, we would be patient with those we were developing relationships with.

We would be kind and gentle even if others weren’t always kind and gentle back. We would high five, hug and congratulate others when they succeeded, even if it meant we received nothing in return. We would stop asking for honor when we thought we deserved it, and we would stop always being irritated at others no matter how many pet peeves they triggered.

If we truly loved, we would forgive immediately… even if an apology never came. We would find a firm foundation in our relationships where support and encouragement reigned supreme amidst all odds. And most importantly, we would never give up on believing a person could be our next friend. No matter how long it takes. Love wins in the end. Jealousy only brings defeat.

We would never give up on believing a person could be our next friend. No matter how long it takes. Jealousy only brings defeat.

Love wins in the end.