“I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.” 2 Corinthians 8:16
This week we’re going to talk about trust, which goes hand-in-hand with some of the stuff I covered in last week’s blog on loneliness. Hello, it’s me, a completely emotionally mature and well-adjusted adult human. So, I really have no experience in the area of trust issues whatsoever. I basically pulled this topic from thin air completely on a whim.
Jokes, friends. Trust issues are sort of my bread and butter, and they have affected every one of my relationships in one way or another. I am super analytical and cannot seem to shut my brain off.
But when I’m doing well, when I believe what my friends say, when I can pull myself out of my neurotic over-analysis of every interaction, I have noticed a key secret about human beings.
We are pretty self-absorbed. We tend think everything is about us. Sometimes it is, but mostly I think people are too wrapped up in their own problems to notice many of the minute details I obsess over.
Let me be more specific.
Sometimes a friend will be a little icy or irritable, and I take it personally. I think They probably hate me or remember x-incredibly-insignificant-incident, and they are so mad they can no longer stand to be around me. Maybe you aren’t as dramatic as I am, and you don’t jump to the most dire worst-case-scenario at the slightest glance. Weird.
The worst-case might occasionally be true, just to throw a wrench in my own argument. I remember a time when I decided not to take a friend’s passive aggressive sulking personally, and it turns out she was actually quite upset with me. But, I would say 9 times out of 10 (I have zero data to back up this statistic, just my own experience), it’s not necessarily about you. Maybe on the way to meet up, they got a ticket, or someone said something mean to them. Maybe they are preoccupied with a financial difficulty or a family issue. Maybe they didn’t get enough sleep.
When I was in food service, multiple guests would come in every shift and be grumpy and miserable and short with me. I used to let this bother me, but then I made a connection. The second they got some food, they would cheer up.
They were just hungry. Some people are just unpleasant and determined to make everyone around them miserable. This is not as common as you might think. Most people are just people. And people like free dinner rolls (unless you can’t have the glutens, but you probably still like bread, even if you can’t eat it).
I had to learn to trust that I was good at my job, that I did everything I could and more to create a positive experience for each guest, and sometimes there are just people I would never win over.
A friend (we’ll call her Jen) and I were talking shortly after she moved away for grad school, and I found myself feeling insecure about our friendship. Distance will do that. It is hard for me to trust the face value of what people say to me once they leave or hang up the phone. Our brains are weird like that.
I get all in my head, especially with friends I think are really amazing, like Jen. The whispers start creeping in. She didn’t really mean that. She is forgetting about you. You don’t deserve to be her friend.
Even though I know Jen and we have been friends for a while now, I still get scared that she will wise up one day and realize she’s way too good for me. In spite of everything she says and does, I get anxious.
I started thinking about the idea of boundaries (which I am going to talk about next week!!) and immediately felt guilty for all the pressure I was putting on Jen. It wasn’t fair to force her to carry the weight of my insecurity, to project past relationships onto her, a completely different human.
I want to trust that Jen is a grown up who will tell me if something is wrong. I can still ask and be thoughtful. But I need to treat her like the person she is, not an amalgam of my personified insecurity.
This trust isn’t blind and it isn’t instant. In my friendships, trust has meant seeing the absolute best that my friends are capable of even in the midst of the imperfection and the mess. That takes time and wisdom and patience and self-awareness and grace.
In planning this series, I’ve been thinking a lot about the type of friend Jesus was. I’m not going to end this with a WWJD moment, because Jesus’ interactions were incredibly specific and personal. I do want to point out, however, that he regularly invited his friends into his life and his struggles even though the disciples were the derpiest. He trusted them with tasks that he knew they were going to mess up, things that he could have probably done all on his own. He knows that Peter is going to betray him, and yet he asks Peter to keep watch with him in the garden before his death. Peter immediately feel asleep thrice, but still. When Jesus interacted with people, I think he must have been able to see beneath all of the mess and the posturing to the soul-level human they were created to be. That’s partially why he got so mad at the Pharisees. He called them “white-washed tombs,” pretty on the outside, but full of death on the inside (Matt. 23:27).
In thinking about trust, I must ask if I can trust the people in my life. But I also have to acknowledge that I am prone to error, and therefore ask if I am a trustworthy friend. I have to see the soul-level version of my friends and myself so that we can each work toward being freer and more grace-filled friends.