When someone betrays our trust, as in a broken marriage or being fired, we lose our peace. As we try to make sense of our loss and our pain, we discover how much our inner peace and joy depend on other people. Something gnaws at us in the deepest part of our being – is there something about me – my very being – that causes people I love and care about to suddenly hurt me?
Here is an example. A man is fired despite doing a good job for many years. His wife now wonders, is that how life really works? You do a good job and they fire you anyway? She is rattled at the thought. She says, “How can I trust anyone even at my own workplace?”
I reply, “All trust is anchored in self-trust. Therefore the question is not, can I trust that person? The question is, can I trust myself? Can I trust that I will make good decisions in the first place and if things don’t work out, can I trust that I will handle whatever comes next?”
Therefore trust is rooted within oneself. We need to become conscious of the source of our decision-making – mind? heart? soul? One of these will drive the way in which we decide to place our trust in someone.
As a leadership coach, I find that most people place their trust in others out of a desire for personal gain. We wanted that marriage even when we knew there were warning signs that he/she was not right for us. We took the job and put up with stuff that bothered us out of a need for money and unwillingness to find a better job. The person whose trust we betrayed was our own. We made a poor decision.
Once we become dependent on a relationship, a kind of game begins. We test the other person. Whether at home or at work, we silently say to ourselves, “If you really love me, you will behave in such and such a way.” When they fail, we become wary. They do the same with us.
Even worse, when they pass many tests, we become very trusting. We are re-assured that all is well. However, we fail to understand human nature. Jesus frequently pointed out how we are hypocrites, saying one thing and doing another. Simone Weil, the brilliant Jewish French philosopher who loved Jesus so much said, “In this world, only those people who have fallen to the lowest degree of humiliation, far below beggary […] — only those people, in fact, are capable of telling the truth. All the others lie.”
Thus, our only defence in search of self-trust is – discernment. Jesus saw through people. He knew the lies and tricks they played and wisely responded such as when asked if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or whether to stone the adulterous woman. Are you capable of that?
Yes you are. Jesus said if you would just remove the plank from your eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from the other person. Specks are faults that we judge in others – such as lying, manipulating, crazy-making, being forgetful, stubbornness, self-destruction, holding a grudge and false accusations.
Every time one of these trust-breakers is leveled at you, you are forced to ask yourself, how did I not see that coming? Each occasion is an opportunity to discover the plank in your eye that blinds you spiritually. “Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? Having eyes do you not see? And having ears, do you not see?” said Jesus (Mark 8:17-18).
The path to self-trust comes via broken trust. When we are violated, God is giving us the opportunity to examine our inner being. Were you led by the Spirit? Or by the flesh? (Gal 5:17) Were you selfless or selfish? St. James wrote that we do not get what we pray for because we “ask with wrong motives”. (Ja 4:3)
There is only one way that I know of in which to fully trust yourself. You need to have nothing to hide, nothing to prove and nothing to lose. Then you will know that you are coming from a place of love. You will see clearly what to do and know in your heart that you have acted out of love for your neighbour, especially the betrayer who has become your heart-breaking enemy. This is Jesus’ calling us nearer to him, to trust in him first. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Your reward will be inner peace and healed relationships re-anchored in a new kind of trust – self-trust. Your self-trust will be rooted in being led by the Spirit, not by your own strength. You will know this to be true when you truly believe, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10)
You will trust yourself to do the right thing, and you will know with unshakable faith that you will handle it if things don’t work out.