Trust. It is scary because it requires vulnerability. To place my trust with someone is to open the door to my heart, allowing the possibility of love and pain to enter. Trust is required for all relationships to grow, but that doesn’t mean it is easy. There is always a level of uncertainty, which can make it feel dangerous. Discerning who to trust or even how to trust can be tricky.
I have had my heart hurt enough times to learn to be more cautious whom I choose to trust. I barricade the door to my heart, keeping most people in the periphery, which allows me to feel safe, but it also keeps me isolated.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Guarding my heart is a good thing, God even tells me to do it. But my version of guarding is locking away my heart and throwing away the key. I don’t think that’s exactly what he meant. The heart is the storeroom of my preciousness, it is a treasure, so it needs to be protected. But it is also the source of my life, and as long as it is locked away, I cannot be fully alive. When I no longer trust anyone, I am no longer open to relationship, to being known, and ultimately to love.
In order to be alive, to act from the heart with trust, I have to put first things first.
“The glory of God is a human being fully alive; and to be alive consists in beholding God.” Saint Irenaeus
God wants me to be fully alive, that is how I bring him glory. I have hidden that glory behind a fortress of protection, refusing to come out.
Because God is kind and gentle, he has beckoned me tenderly, knowing that my life experiences have caused me to be skeptical. Even though his requests often feel monumental, they are small in comparison to the lengths he was willing to go to prove his trustworthiness. He is constantly reminding me that he is for me and not against me, and that he wants to protect my heart even more than I want to protect it. Sometimes my head gets in the way of my heart, I try to live life through reasoning and logic, grappling to understand things beyond my grasp.
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
Trust and the heart are joined together, avoiding one means dismissing the other. Living life to the fullest means engaging my heart, which is impossible without trust. And I cannot implement trust in my life without my heart, it would only be a facade.
Trust is a process, it takes time. It is not built in one moment, but in a series of interactions, requiring wisdom and discernment. However, choosing not to trust at all is choosing to be ruled by fear rather than courage, choosing to wither rather than blossom. I focus on the probability of rupture rather than the prospect of repair.
I have learned that pain is not the worst thing that can happen to me, that is actually where I have experienced the most growth in my life. Avoidance is what has proven to be detrimental. I have been known to refrain from making new friends, having difficult conversations, admitting when I am wrong, and giving people the benefit of doubt — all things that make me uncomfortable. Denial is where the possibility of good things goes to die.
To live life from the heart means acknowledging how other people affect me, becoming aware of and recognizing how I impact others, going deeper than the surface, facing pain rather than running from it, and choosing trust over distrust.
However, that is easier said than done. Fear doesn’t leave without a fight. Courage can only be exhibited in the presence of fear, that is how my faith muscle becomes stronger.
To live life to the fullest, engaging my experiences with my whole heart, leaning into trust, starts with me being brave.
In Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong, she uses the acronym BRAVING to help provide some tools on the path of trust. Tools that are helpful for establishing trust, rebuilding trust, and revealing how our trust becomes broken.
BOUNDARIES — You respect my boundaries, and when you’re not clear about what’s okay and not okay, you ask. You’re willing to say no.
RELIABILITY — You do what you say you’ll do. At work [and in life], this means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so you don’t overpromise and are able to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities.
ACCOUNTABILITY — You own your mistakes, apologize and make amends.
VAULT– You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. I need to know that my confidences are kept, and that you’re not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential.
INTEGRITY– You choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. And you choose to practice your values rather than professing them.
NONJUDGMENT– I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment.
GENEROSITY– You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.
Implementing each of these requires the courage to be honest and vulnerable, not just with others but also with myself. I can’t just look at how others have failed to utilize these tools, I have to be willing to admit my own disregard for them.
Living life with my whole heart, knowing others and being known, is built on the foundation of trust–that is the daring path. The challenge is being brave enough to take it.