Trust is having confidence in the integrity, strength or ability of a person or thing.
I'm not very good at this.
More precisely, trust does not come naturally to me. I tend to be kind of skeptical, and often do not take things at face value. I generally want some evidence of faithfulness before I put my trust in something or someone. And once I've been disappointed, it's really hard to regain my trust.
Sometimes this is healthy, sometimes not so much. Frequently the one who doesn't trust people doesn't trust God, either. And you'll never receive God's help if you don't trust Him.
A danger for me is when skepticism - requiring evidence of trustworthiness - drifts into cynicism.
A cynic is one who believes that all humans are motivated only by selfishness. A skeptic isn't sure if people can be trusted; a cynic is convinced they can never be. When someone does something good for me, if I'm in cynical mode I think, "What's in it for them?" A cynic expects to be taken advantage of, to be cheated. He trusts no one, other than himself.
Really, cynicism is the height of self-centeredness. And that attitude is projected onto all people. Because he's totally selfish, the cynic assumes everybody else is, too. This behavior is quite unhealthy. It leads to bitterness and anger, even unforgiveness. A cynic grumbles and complains all the time. They're unhappy and unpleasant to be around.
Since I recognize this tendency in myself, I really try to guard against it. I don't want to be a rotten human being, trusting no one. I don't want to be a selfish, judgmental prig. But trust takes time and effort to develop and maintain, and I don't always succeed.
There is good reason to mistrust people. We're all born selfish, thinking only of our own satisfaction. When a baby is hungry or tired or in need of a diaper change, it screams until it gets what it wants. As children get older, they learn more sophisticated methods of manipulation, but their main thrust is still getting whatever they desire.
One definition of maturity is thinking less of oneself and more of others. Genuine love is considering others' needs before your own. A wise parent works to train children to think of others rather than only themselves, and to do their part to make this world a better place. The ultimate goal of parents is to raise their children to be responsible, mature, caring adults. Training means that the child doesn't get every desire granted. They must learn that actions have consequences and sometimes you don't get what you want. Unfortunately, many children don't learn this lesson, which is why there are so many whiny, immature adults.
So I remain skeptical as a rule. I've been lied to, cheated, betrayed, and had many promises to me broken. It would be easy to just assume that's how everyone behaves and trust no one. But I can't do that, because of one word: REDEMPTION.
You see, I've lied, cheated, betrayed others and broken promises. The very behavior I abhor in others I have often practiced. But thank God, I'm not that person any more. Do I fail? Sure.
Do I sometimes fall back into this kind of behavior? Sadly, I do. But I recognize its destructive tendencies, and consciously work to eliminate these sorts of actions from my life.
And I have Scriptural promise to help me. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)
I don't have to be that old guy I was. I can choose to change with the help of the Holy Spirit.
"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." (Romans 12:2 NLT)
If I fail, He has promised to forgive me and help me get back on the right path. (1 John 1:9) He has been so kind and merciful to me, even though I don't deserve it. And He expects me to treat others with mercy and understanding, forgiving them as I've been forgiven. (Romans 2:1-4)
I'm learning to temper my skepticism with love and kindness. This does not come naturally - I told you my natural tendency is toward cynicism, the very opposite of lovingkindness. But God Himself dwells in me, in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He gives me the power to actually live
what I say I believe. (Acts 1:8) God does not force me to change - I have to consciously choose to follow Him every day, every hour, every minute really. When I make that choice, He helps me behave in ways that demonstrate the power of Christ in my life.
Trust doesn't come easily to me - but I'm learning and growing. Just publishing these thoughts is a leap of faith for me. If you have struggled with trust issues, I hope learning a little about my journey will help you. It's scary and it's hard, but learning to trust others and especially to trust God is totally worth it.
I've not arrived yet, but I'm on the way and it's good. Hope you'll join me!