As we approach Valentines Day in this era of #metoo, trust may be a good thing to think about in our personal lives. We’ve witnessed tremendous violations of trust in the public sphere, and the reports just keep on coming.
For most us, though, trust doesn’t feel like a public issue, or even a theological issue; it feels personal. In our daily lives, questions of trust are about who we can count on and who we don’t expect to come through for us. And the answers are sometimes surprising.
Those who have experienced abuse from people close to them–partners, parents, or friends–can develop attitudes of mistrust not only for those who have violated them, but for people in general as well. Who can blame them? Trust too often has led to harm.
But what is love without trust? Risking love may be the greatest risk we take in our lives. Often, that risk is rewarded. Sometimes, it isn’t. The hurt from that experience may never fully heal. When trust has been broken, relationships fail, families dissolve, friendships falter. And the people going through that brokenness become broken themselves. The Irish proverb tells us, “When mistrust comes in, love goes out.” We can’t really have love without trust.
And trust works best as a two-way street. We have to trust one another, though often one person has to make the leap to trust first. Or maybe, we slowly inch towards trusting one another, tiny step by tiny step. We may not even realize when we came to trust someone, until one day we notice that we do. Mutuality, consistency, steadfastness–that is the language of trust.
Maybe we’d rather have roses, candy, and candlelight. They are ephemeral, though. And studies show that couples who do best in the long-run are not those with the greatest romantic impulses, but the ones who day after day come through in the little ways. Caring enough to ask one another about their day. Listening. Expressing thanks. Some people talk about it in terms of an emotional bank account, making continual deposits so that the account grows and can stand up to the difficult times that may require withdrawals, testing the love and the trust. As someone in a relationship for more than thirty years, I can attest to that.
Buddhist neuroscientist Rick Hanson tells us that early humans who were particularly good at cooperation, caring, and understanding–in short, love–out-competed those bands who loved less. Love, then, has staying power. Still, it’s nothing with trust.
In this month of trust, focus on those you love and build the trust. It’s worth the effort, I promise you. Jonalu