I have trust issues.
I was raised cynical. We all are to some degree. My mother was–and still is–a chemistry teacher with a biology degree. She would–and still does–tell me that one of the things she worries about is that I’m too trusting of people. I’m not sure where she’s getting that; I’ll usually give people the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t expect them to follow through with it.
The nature of this trait, cultivated and inherited, has the effect of being a lens I wear for my interactions with people. Not trusting means being pleasantly surprised. Trusting is hard. Cynicism is easy. Even Christ, when he walked the earth, surrounded by followers “would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men.” (John 2:24)
Ironically, my tendency to not trust people shifted its way to Jesus. I carried my means of dealing with man into my relationship with the Son of Man. That’s probably why He didn’t trust those men around him–men like me. It’s almost impossible to truly trust someone who doesn’t trust you. Without trust, there’s that inherent tension in the relationship that grates and scratches all of the interaction and leaves the relationship feeling shallow. And in many ways, it is. Trust is a commitment; it means that there will be mutual respect, and that one party can count on the other to uphold the foundation of that respect.
Sure, I trust God on an idealistic level: following the rules He laid out for me is for the best. Yeah, I get that. But that doesn’t translate into the practical reality of a trusting relationship. All the kind thoughts and good intentions in the world don’t matter when they aren’t manifested in a way that reflects them. Ask me if I trust God: of course I do. Look at how I live: maybe not so much.
I have my intellectual reservations–the same way that a child sitting at the top of a slide has theirs. Wholesale commitment means total trust. The record shows that I’m not great with that.
Honestly, one of my biggest worries is that full commitment will mean I’ll no longer be interesting. Some of my flaws and sins serve to bring out other aspects of my personality that I happen to like. I’ve even come to define myself by some of them. I’m not ready to give them up to become a white-robed saint walking around, quietly humming Hillsong. Christianity is supposed to make us look like Christ, but a part of me doesn’t want to look like everyone else.
And cynicism has its perks. My mother’s mindset was not one of sarcasm, where there is no right answer and everything is to be scoffed at. It was an attitude of empirical evidence: go figure things out for yourself. If you can’t do it, find someone who has.
There is plenty of evidence that my worries are unfounded.
As I sit at the top of the slide, I can see plenty of people who have gone down it, and they tell me how great it is. Surprisingly, they’re not all wearing the same clothes and talking the same–although they all have a gleam in their eye that shines and sparkles like city lights. I wouldn’t mind having a piece of that. I want to join them down at the bottom, with their feet firmly planted on the ground and their head in the clouds. But my fear–my lack of trust–however unfounded, is still real.
And so I sit at the top of the slide. I’ve climbed all the way to the top, but now it’s a long way down. If I push off, I won’t be able to stop; I can only trust that I will be caught at the bottom. In my head, I know I will be. I’ve got a good Father. And maybe after I get down, and I take off the dirty old clothes that have been defining me, instead of a plain white robe, He will give me one that shines like glass and has all the color and depth of the sky. I’ve heard He gives pretty good gifts to His children.
But maybe I’ll get a plain white robe. It’s not for me to decide.
I am called to trust.