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 Trust" written 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.

 

 

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What is the Gospel?

Let’s walk back in time for a second. Picture this: It’s 26 A.D in Nazareth (Israel). You’ve spent the week as a stonemason and your arms ache from the back-breaking work you do, day in and day out. This Sabbath morning, you’re sitting in the synagogue listening to...

The Crazy in Church Planting

10 Years Ago...

  • We felt God tugging on our hearts in regard to church planting
  • Attended a Weekend Church Planting Q&A through Ozark Christian College

8 Years Later...

  • We felt God leading us to plant a church in a city where my husband worked
  • Realized- we would eventually have to leave our recent “home” church in order to plant God’s leading only 25 minutes away
  • Had a family uproot themselves from out of state and move into the area to help us plant
  • Got pregnant (whoops… there goes smart planning…)
  • Dreamed about where to plant, prayed about where to plant, talked about where to plant…
  • Began meeting with our team (at the time it was a total of 7 adults…)
  • Had TONS of prayer teams all over the country begin to pray for our team
  • Joined Nexus Church PlantingMichael began to be coached by an experienced church planter
  • Had our 3rd baby boy (people were not joking when they warned us that going from 2 to 3 was “a whole ‘nother ball game!")
  • I began battling post-partum depression (1st time ever… our crazy life definitely wasn't to blame… ha!)
  • Attended a weeklong assessment process with Nexus (making sure we were actually adequately prepared to plant a church.)
  • Had our first Outreach Event… and the only people that attended were… OUR TEAM. (We were literally giving hotdogs away to people that walked by our Pavilion at the park… sad.)
  • Had another Outreach that was more promising… I think there were 13 people there that were not comprised of our team??
  • Lost part of a salary that we had “in place” for our first hire due to a change in support from a church
  • Was given a warehouse and space in a strip mall for next to nothing
  • Lost 3 of our team (I cried a lot during this time) but gained 4 more team members
  • Had our first church BBQ. It was a hit and I began to have hope (not like I’d ever questioned God or anything- that was sarcasm.)
  • Gained a worship band… and we were two weeks from our “Pre-Launch.”
  • Spent an insane amount of hours:
    • Cleaning the building
    • Re-drywalling an entire room (there was carpet on the walls.)
    • Peeling glue off the cement floors (several times)
    • Primed and painted every single wall in those areas
    • Cleaning more…
    • Painting more…
    • Scraping dog urine and feces off the warehouse floor with this crazy rented floor scraper (It had been a doggie hotel. Yes, I am serious.)
    • Climbed up into the dropped ceiling in the warehouse to discover… wait for it… PILES of dog hair from a dog hair vacuum vent. Took several trash bags to dispose of it.
    • Cleaned out the ductwork (think hair…)
    • Glued down carpet squares in two rooms
    • Scoured 4 bathrooms (one with a weird shower…)
    • Procured a stage and then had to fix it due to huge holes in it.
    • Stained the concrete floor upstairs
    • Had random worship practices while sitting on the concrete floor or upside down paint cans
    • Found huge cable spools for tables
    • Borrowed a sound system… and

Take a Breath... I think that's it.

My emotions during this time? Numb. There wasn’t time to pause and think about it. It was constantly… GO…GO…GO.  And then the doubt crept in. We lost our first hire within two months. We lost most of the worship band but gained a dedicated worship leader. We lost support from those close to us. Previous friendships faded and almost ceased to exist when our lives became fast-paced with the church plant. We saw people walk in the doors, tell us that they would be back- and then they wouldn’t. On our actual Launch day, a woman stood up and walked out during the sermon. (When there’s only 16 people in attendence… you kinda notice.) And all this time, I am weeping inside, mostly because of my pride and insecurity. I wanted to run. I wanted to leave. I had thoughts of loading up my car with my children and driving 7 hours to my parents just to escape the constant drama of church planting. We (as a church) were accused of: 
  • Being too young
  • Putting our young family in danger because of the workload of ministry
  • Being egotistical to think that we could (even with God’s Help- goodness!) plant and grow a church
  • Planting a church in a city of churches
  • Trying to be too forward thinking in regards to how church should run
  • Trying to run the church like a business
  • Not giving clear expectations to our first hire
  • Not fulfilling expectations of what a church plant would look like to our original team
  • Miscommunication… a lot.
  • Unorganization
  • "Playing" church instead of being the church
I still wrestle with the pain of all those accusations. I feel deeply about this church that God grew in our hearts to plant. And because I feel deeply, most all criticism hurts. That and the complete and utter physical exhaustion of planting a church can wear on a person. But God has assured me of one thing over and over. He is there. Forever. And he hears my cry for help. No matter how many times…

Psalm 18:6-19

When I was in trouble, I called out to the Lord.
 I cried to my God for help.
 From his temple he heard my voice.
 My cry for help reached his ears. The earth trembled and shook.
 The base of the mountains rocked back and forth.
 It trembled because the Lord was angry.
 Smoke came out of his nose.
 Flames of fire came out of his mouth.
 Burning coals blazed out of it. He opened the heavens and came down.
 Dark clouds were under his feet. 
He got on the cherubim and flew.
 The wings of the wind lifted him up.
 He covered himself with darkness.
 The dark rain clouds of the sky were like a tent around him.
 Clouds came out of the brightness that was all around him.
 They came with hailstones and flashes of lightning. The Lord thundered from heaven.
 The voice of the Most High God was heard.
 He shot his arrows and scattered our enemies.
 He sent great flashes of lightning and chased the enemies away.
 The bottom of the sea could be seen.
 The foundations of the earth were uncovered.   Lord, it happened when your anger blazed out.
 It came like a blast of breath from your nose. He reached down from heaven. He took hold of me.
 He lifted me out of deep waters.
 He saved me from my powerful enemies.
 He set me free from those who were too strong for me. They stood up to me when I was in trouble.
 But the Lord helped me.
 He brought me out into a wide and safe place.
 He saved me because he was pleased with me.

Update 2020:

There's a lot of things now, looking back, that my husband and I would change if we were to go back and have a do-over. We would have prayed more firmly about our original church plant team. We had two couples join us from the beginning, and church planters warned us that our original team would leave us eventually. We were naive and thought, "No way! These are some of my husband's best friends!" One couple left us before the first year was up. The other stayed with us through thick and thin... then left after 5 years. I am grateful for both of these couples... because without them we would have never been able to get off the ground. None of us knew the depth of what we were undertaking until WE WERE IN IT. What we didn't understand was that God would send us the couples and families that we would need to survive past Year Five. These families and couples have been a complete GOD-SEND. They have been flexible... full of grace... and there for us like a true family. These are the people who I call when we're experiencing an emergency, heartache or frustration. Since this post was written, the church God planted has moved twice. We've grown, then lost people, then grown some more. We've gone through great interns and several great children's directors. But through it all, we've stayed faithful to the church that called us to plant. And we're still plugging away......Sharing Truth (through discipleship and teaching)... Giving Grace (learning to accept God's grace and give it to others)... and Loving Others (with our words and actions.)
Called Out.

Called Out.

This oneness seems to be elusive to many churches today. And I wonder if it’s because we are looking for the wrong thing when we look for a church family.

Called Out.

Called Out.

There's an epidemic that is sweeping our nation, and it seems so elusive at times I can hardly put my finger on it. 

  • It comes with a friend bailing on you because another bigger, better party (or nap opportunity) came up. 
  • It comes when marriages break into a million little pieces and call everyone into question that surrounds the broken relationship.
  • It comes when families no longer understand the value of trust and giving without asking for payback.
  • It comes when someone stops shopping at the Mom&Pop shop because a new and better store came into town. 
  • It comes when a friend continues to ghost you and not call, text, or message back with no apology. Even months later. 
  • It comes when a family leaves your church because it's not filling their own needs.

What is this thing that has emerged in our personal thoughts, families, lifestyles, relationships, marriages, and now churches? 

Disloyalty.

Some would call it a lack of commitment. But where did the previous commitment go? Was it even really there in the first place? As I look back at our nation's history... I see a trail of disloyalty within the church. Churches splitting... new denominations created... competitions growing amidst congregations.

Since planting a church, a whole new level of disloyalty has emerged. And this one... scares me.

As I've poured thru scripture, my understanding of what Jesus called the church to, was mostly incorrect. (Here's a hint... the church was called to be a Kingdom.) A paragraph in the 2nd chapter of Acts continues to haunt me as I learn more and more about the Kingdom of God.

Acts 2:42-47 The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Community of Believers

Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles. Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer. A deep sense of holy awe swept over everyone, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had.  Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them. Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another's homes to celebrate communion. They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility. They were continually filled with praises to God, enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were coming to life.

This oneness seems to be elusive to many churches today. And I wonder if it's because we are looking for the wrong thing when we look for a church family.

I don't believe we are called just to gather to have our needs filled. (Gasp!) If we are only looking to love ourselves... then we will attend a church if they provide: an excellent and entertaining kids' ministry; an uplifting and rocking praise and worship service; bible studies with popular teachers that draw crowds; and a preacher who is funny, yet serious, yet knows his Bible in the original languages and can relate to everyone he comes in contact with.

Honestly, looking at that last statement takes my breath away... and not in a good way. Like someone punched me in the throat kind of way. People are openly choosing to be disloyal to the Kingdom of God... over and over and over.

Commitment Issues

They choose their comfort over maturing spiritually. (It's not easy.) They decide to point fingers of judgment towards others instead of just loving them. They choose to sleep in, instead of investing in those that God has called us to love upon. They decide to leave a church behind without even a word because they weren't given the proper "acknowledgment" that they thought they deserved. They choose to forgo building relationships with friends in the church because it gets real... quick. They prefer to gossip and divide the Kingdom openly with harsh words about others.

That's not right. That's not what Jesus came to establish.

I'm humbled by the simple fact that God has allowed my husband and I to be a part of such a loving and grace-filled community during the last six years. But I hurt when I see people choose to be disloyal to the church over and over and over... and not just our church. All churches, nationwide. 

There seems to be a fear of telling the truth to those we need to be honest with... but more importantly, a fear of telling the truth to ourselves.

We need to ask ourselves... what do we really want?

To be a part of the Kingdom? Because that, people, demands loyalty.

Lesson #4: Trust and (Hard At Times) Friendships

I wanted to believe that church planting was going to be smooth sailing.  That I would make solid friends, not be known as the “pastor’s wife” and everything would remain peachy keen. I seem to have forgotten that I was dealing with human beings.  When planting, you are with the same people… A LOT.  Meetings, cleaning the church, dinners with the community, events, bible studies, meeting for coffee, play dates, etc… the list goes on and on.  I am a person who needs a chill day at least once a week… so when I had been around people non-stop for three weeks at one point in the planting process, I could barely function.  (Literally.  My brain had decided to shut down and I could no longer remember anything.  See ya, short-term memory!) I remember as a child, my Momma telling me, that when you “hang out with the same person for a long while, you will get tired of them.”  Now, whether or not, I truly was “tired” of being around people… I was definitely having a hard time knowing how to act around them.  Satan began whispering in my ear, emotions flared (on everyone’s part) and I ran away.  (Again, literally… well… at least I didn’t leave my house for a week… not even to get groceries!!!)

7 Ways to Heal When You've Been Hurt

Through this time, I sought God’s counsel in knowing how to handle certain situations.  These are what He shared with me.

1-    Keep Your Cool

  1. Spend some time in prayer asking God for help before a situation with that person arrives
  2. Don’t let them “get under your skin.”
  3. Take a breather.  Don’t feel like you need to be around them all the time.

2-    Evaluate… am I irritated because we are too much alike?

  1. No, seriously.  Look at this.  You may be surprised.  (I was!)

3-    Am I hurt because of something they did or said?

  1. Acknowledge your feelings
  2. Confront the true reason you were hurt
  3. Prepare to tell them
  4. Maybe spend more time in prayer and in the Word… ?  Just a suggestion…

4-    Share with them your frustrations in a loving manner.

  1. Don’t blame.  Don’t point fingers.  Just tell them how you feel.
  2. DON’T (and I really mean this one) bring up times they frustrated and hurt you from further back than one month.  Anymore time than this shows that YOU have a problem with HOLDING ONTO GRUDGES.  (This should be something that you need to speak with God about if you do in fact have a huge rap sheet of hurt and frustration toward a person.)

5-    Don’t expect an apology.

  1. Just don’t.  It’s not your place to convict them.  It’s God’s.

6-    Ask for any forgiveness that you may need from them.

  1. You will need to ask God to convict you of something that you may have done to hurt them .
  2. Be willing to hear from their hurts/frustrations if they voice any.  (This is the part that terrifies me.... yes.  Me- who's dishing out the advice.  I have a terrible fear of hearing if I've hurt someone... mostly because I know that I am not perfect.)

7-    MOVE ON.

  1. This is the hardest part.  Once the exchange has occurred (LOL.  Sounds so business-like!), you need to work EVERY DAY to forgive and move on.
  2. Try to act and treat them as you would if they had never hurt you.  This is so much easier said than done… but if you succeed you may in fact win a friend for life.  Most true friendships are built upon trust… trust in each other… trust to be strong enough to speak up with hurts arise… trust that the other person will not purposely hurt you again… trust… trust… trust…
Proverbs 17:9,17"Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and- good-bye, friend!....Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble."