“One, two, three!” the swim coach would shout, holding her arms out warmly. The 8 year old girl with skinny legs and goggles pulled back in fear, after getting into position for the 5th time at the edge of the deep end. All of her friends had already jumped in, and were having fun splashing around, getting out of the pool to jump again, and sliding down the water slide. “Okay, I’m ready” the little girl would say confidently, as she came back to the edge. ” And the coach would count off once more saying, “Okay…one, two, three!” The little girl would bend her legs and close her eyes with her mom standing nearby, waiting to see her success. But yet again, she scrunched back, reassuring herself and her coach that she would finally do it the next time around. She always seemed to make it so far, but never wanted to let go of control and buy into the unknown. That little girl, if you haven’t already guessed, was me. She is still me in a lot of ways, only now the deep end represents bigger decisions like what I want to do with the rest of my life, and do I really want to tithe the $10 I have in my pocket that I was saving for something else. At 8 years old, having trust issues like that may seem highly irrational. What was the worst that could happen? No one was going to let me drown, and there were floats all around the pool. But I never looked at that. My eyes were on how deep the water was, and how small I was in comparison. Plus, I hated (and still do hate) getting water stuck in my ears. It always felt like it would never come out. The “what ifs” kept me second guessing something that shouldn’t have been that hard to figure out in the first place, and as I dig deeper into myself, I know that I do the same in my relationships with others.
I could go on forever talking about the different experiences I’ve had with people that have caused to question if I’m a good judge of character, but the point is, I’ve grown into this over time. Somebody hurts your feelings and doesn’t apologize or cheats off you during a test and you start to wonder if there’s any good left in the world. I’m the kind of person who has to take a couple of hours to a day to think situations through before making a decision to let the offense go. After that, I’ll usually give a second and third chance. A fourth…is pushing it to be honest. I mean, I can’t be a doormat right? I can’t allow myself to be used. I shouldn’t continue to let somebody with a toxic personality back into my life, should I? The answer is no, you shouldn’t. I’ve discovered that God will tell us when it’s time to trust again. He’ll never ask you to go back into a relationship that could potentially hurt you. He may ask you to wait it out for awhile and not do anything about it. But contrastingly, if you close yourself off to the right people, thinking you’ll be safer that way, you’ll be missing out on some of the best times in your life. You could even miss your calling by not trusting people. We all have wounds that cut deep and cause to get bitter, but in spite of that, we as Christ followers must make a choice not to live for the past.
There are a couple of scriptures I think about whenever I’m deciding whether of not take a chance and trust again, and one of them is Matthew 18:21&22. It says, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’ I’m sure Peter was thinking exactly what we think about that. That’s a LOT to give someone who has a history of continuing the same behaviors. Maybe you’re married to someone who has been unfaithful to you, and you’ve forgiven them, but you can’t seem to get back the trust that was once there. And now every time he goes off to work, you’re worried about that cute assistant who works with him that can wear anything and look like a 10. You want to make these thoughts go away, but the devil is relentless in attacking you. Forgiveness and trust go hand in hand, but they are not the same subject. It can take some time to glue something back together that’s been completely shattered. Even in trusting God! But it’s necessary and profitable to do so. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I underlined the words joy, peace, and trust because those are key words to remind us that when we trust in God, we then receive joy and peace. When we don’t trust God, there’s turmoil in our lives. So in the same way, it’s good for us to trust others so that we may have peace and joy when forming bonds.
People will give you signs as you get to the know them to let you know that they are trustworthy:
- They are upfront and honest with you about your flaws. In other words, they give you constructive criticism in order to help you, not hurt you. Someone who doesn’t care about you won’t tell you that you’re about to miss a stair step, just to watch you fall on your butt.
- They talk pleasantly about you to your face and when you turn your back. I always say that if two people are saying the same thing, it’s PROBABLY true. So if a couple friends come to you with negative, “words from the grapevine” concerning that person, listen to them.
- Lastly, watch the way they treat others. If that person is gossiping about someone else when they were just in the room, who’s to say they’re not doing the same when you leave? How many close friends do they have? Are you noticing that people stray from talking to them as much as possible? This might be a good enough reason intercession (intense prayer).
I highly doubt that anyone has gone through or will go through this life without facing this struggle, there’s just no other way to conquer it except to keep putting yourself out there. As I continue to meet new people even in the midst of fear, and I run across out-of-the-blue results, such as people praying for me consistently. People that I’ve only talked with a handful of times. I pray every day that God would help me get better at letting go of self-conscienceness, or comparing one person to another. I believe that He is helping me to over come this, so I believe that you can too, if you are willing to fully surrender it to Him. I never did fill in the ending to the story of the little girl. She came back that next week, bent her skinny knees, and jumped into the deep end.
P.S., I was NOT as enthusiastic as this brave child. ^_^