Trust. “An assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” (Merriam Webster)
In relationships of every kind, trust can be a tenuous idea or a steadfast assurance; both based on the confidence one has or lacks in another and is often substantiated not only by what is said but on what is done in relation to those words.
And trust is significantly important whether it be between coworkers or those in authority over us, friends, parent/child, family, and especially in marriage.
Trust is based on the integrity of two people; that is, truth is not just what is said. It is established or shaken by whether or not the actions that follow correspond with those words spoken or implied. It is the intention of the heart to either bring something into the open or or keep it in the shadows, to reveal or conceal.
Trust is shaken when truth is known, as the proverbial “elephant in the room,” yet no attempt is made to bring it to light; rather, the greater effort is made to keep it in the dark and, if possible, bury it further.
Yes, when one has professed a statement to be believed and it is compromised, trust can be restored only as there is a genuine humility and a conversation to set the record straight; speaking the truth rather than keeping it covered to protect one’s pride, reputation, or personal gain, followed by actions intended to reset the course.
Depending on how greatly the confidence has been shaken, it may take time; but, by God’s grace, it is possible.
I’ve seen both at work through many in workplaces, among friends, in families, and in marriages.
I rejoice when every effort is made to maintain vows and promises among people so that the character, not just the reputation, of another is the very foundation of their choices in both their private and public actions and trust is never shaken. It is a beautiful picture of intentionally choosing the “kingdom of God over the kingdom of self” as Paul David Tripp says. It is a delightful display of loving God and loving another so well as to deny self and the draw to “me-centered” desires and choices. And trust is solidified.
I give thanks and take pleasure when I see a heart softened and humbled not by mere regret or a desire to get something off their chest but, instead, by a true godly sorrow that sees the wounds they have inflicted and errors made yet seeks restoration with another by saying, “I was wrong. Please forgive me. Help me make it right and keep it right.” It is a beautiful demonstration of the grace of God redeeming and transforming lives as well as relationships to be all God intended. And trust is restored.
I grieve when I watch the enemy of our souls gleefully convince people who have wronged another that it is better for them (and even for the other) to keep the offenses in the dark; the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms do battle against our souls to lead us to exalt position and reputation over integrity. Love of self and a good name and/or a desire to continue in the same pattern sometimes convinces us it is better to let the truth be buried and so hinder relationships rather than bring truth into the light and seek reconciliation. And trust is shattered as foundations of trust further erode.
We tend to fear that the truth we need to reveal will not be received with forgiveness, love, and grace.
We fear losing the reputation we have created and protected or the strong position we have fought to maintain.
But we have to decide which is more important: our reputation or our integrity; our standing or the health of a relationship.
We can know the difference between godly sorrow that leads to repentance, shame that leads to fear and a deeper burial of the truth, or pride that leads to digging in deeper.
The former is from the Father who desires light to shine in the dark places to bring redemption and restoration of individuals and relationships.
The latter two are from the enemy whose only desire is for darkness and fear where there is no freedom and where individuals and relationships are broken down with every secret.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
We need not fear being truthful, even exposing our weaknesses and sins against each other. It’s the only path to complete trust in relationships. But it cannot happen in a vacuum; it cannot happen unless we are willing to lay down whatever is hindering the relationship so that reconciliation and trust can be restored.
How do we know if we have done something that would be harmful or hurtful to another whether it be in the workplace, a friendship, or home? If it is not clear, there are some questions that would be helpful to ask.
Would I want them to know my words or my actions?
Am I afraid the truth will be revealed to them?
If I were confronted with it, would I want to make excuses, justify it, or shift the blame?
Do I think about ways to “cover my tracks,” or have I done that?
Would I be okay if the same thing were done to or said about me?
“Love delights in the truth.” (I Corinthians 13:6)
The truth is not always comfortable. Sometimes it is uncomfortably messy. But our God is truth and He “desires truth in our inmost parts and teaches wisdom in the secret places” (Psalm 51:6). He desires we live that way with one another – in truth and trust as far as it depends upon us! (Romans 12:18)
We are not held accountable for the response of others; but we are answerable to God for the truth or lack thereof in our lives – both our actions and our spoken or unspoken words.
Our God is truth and those who worship Him must do so in Spirit and in truth. We cannot worship well if we are hindering honesty with any other; we cannot pray and expect God to answer if we are actively maintaining the presence of “half-truths” in our lives. (Psalm 66:18)
It is so important to God that He says in Matthew 5:23-24, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
We cannot build solid relationships on a shaky foundation. We cannot maintain anything healthy if we are being less than truthful. We cannot interact with confidence when we know the truth yet the truth remains “out there,” even sometimes being the “unspoken” between two or more.
We build walls when we allow the seeds of distrust to be scattered by the winds of false faces.
Does truth matter?
Does trust matter?
Regardless of what others do to us, will we be true?
Will we be image bearers of the One who Himself is faithful and true?
As far as it depends on us, will we do whatever it takes to maintain trust in our relationships with others?
Will we allow God to reveal and strip us of our little kingdoms that we have built behind the scenes to satisfy our desires at the expense of others, even if we think our actions adversely affect no one?
Will we allow God to open our hands and forgive when we have been sinned against just as Christ died to forgive us of our own offenses and rebellion against Him?
Will we be willing to ask God to take the blinders off our eyes and see if we have done anything to shake another’s trust?
And, if we know we have already done so, will we ask God for a heart to grieve that which grieves Him and humbly seek reconciliation or reestablish trust with that one?
Regardless of whether or not truth is ever spoken and trust is ever allowed to be rebuilt, bitterness is not an option for the believer who has been hurt. It is yet another tool of the enemy of our souls to further wound us by our own hand on top of the offense against us.
Whether we are the one who has broken the trust of another or are on the receiving end, by the equipping of the Holy Spirit, we are to intentionally “…strengthen feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the (wounded) may not be disabled, but rather healed…” We are (to) see to it that “no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:12, 13, 15)
Truth and vulnerability may reveal the uncomfortable, but they also reveal grace. And grace shown in the midst of honesty and a move toward restoration is evidence of Christ in us, the Hope of glory! Together they open the door to a greater openness and a deeper desire to make and keep things right.
Truth brings freedom as grace abounds; truth restores trust as it is hand in hand with repentance.
It may be that trust has to be rebuilt, but by the grace of the God who desires and calls us to shine light into our own dark places, He is more than able to transform lives and equip us to forgive and to stand firm.