I was recently feeling that particular kind of awful when you’ve eaten too much (the typical Thanksgiving trap) and, on top of it, I was stuck in my head. I decided to help my mood by doing the escarpment stairs (I try to follow my own advice since being a hypocrite isn’t on my to-do list). Whenever I do the stairs and someone else is there I say hi to break the awkward “I know you’re there but pretending you’re not” awkward feel. This time when I was jogging up the stairs, I passed a couple on their way down who were a little bit younger than I am, but when I said hi he looked through me like I was a ghost in a Charles Dickens’ novel while she didn’t even look up to acknowledge my existence in a very cold kind of way. They weren’t winded or too tired to speak; they were just being rude. I passed them three more times and they just awkwardly pretended I didn’t exist. While the thought was mulling through my head that it’s hard to trust others when you can’t trust yourself, I saw him in my lane just up ahead slowly walking towards me. As I got closer, he moved to his proper side (he’s not a total jerk). I, of course, said thank you and he, of course, ignored me. That time I was like “Screw you and your rudeness…” in my head. I was angry, but I still didn’t want to be a hypocrite by not taking my own advice and biting my tongue. Thus, this post took shape.
There are three main reasons we can struggle to trust others:
- It’s hard to trust others when others can suck: Beyond this simple story, I know what it’s like to be screwed over as I have been by all four church ministry positions I’ve had. Hurts and feelings of betrayal, however, can happen in any personal relationship (and likely will at some point). On the plus side, these experiences can teach us how to forgive and heal, but the downside is they can lead us to not trusting anyone and limiting how much we connect with others, which ultimately makes life just a little harder.
There are two unnecessary but common hurts I really hate. The first is stupid simple to avoid, but somehow a lot of people suck at this. We need to ask questions like we care about the other person. For the record, “How are you?” is not a question; it’s a greeting. A real conversation needs to include both questions and sharing. Just talking isn’t a conversation; it’s a speech. This is a sensitive spot for me largely because my job means I ask a lot of questions and focus on the other person all day for work. In my own life, I want to be asked some questions. I want to know that you care. We all do. Being asked a question shows we matter to the other person, but unfortunately, most people miss this important concept and reduce trust.
The second thing I hate and reduces my trust for people is how things I say out of innocence and love are somehow twisted to make me look mean. I have worked very hard to only joke in a way that’s not a dig or subtly telling someone to change. When I joke, I joke. When I speak, I’m not trying to hurt anyone, but some people just assume I am. Of course, the people most guilty of this are the ones guilty of saying digs and subtly telling someone to change in a so-called joke. Either way, this twisting of words really kills your trust for people because you become afraid to say anything even if they ask a question.
- How can you trust others when you can’t trust God: This is a major reason people struggle with God and whether He exists or not. I may be a believer, but I get it. It’s hard to trust God when you feel alone. It’s hard to trust God when there is so much hurt in the world. As a Christian I trust that God loves me and will welcome me into heaven. I also trust He’ll do some great things for me like He has with all the cars I’ve owned (I have some great stories), but I don’t trust that He will stop people from hurting me or my loved ones or to prevent death because those are inevitable parts of life. I can trust that there is hope for a better forever after I die, but right now it still sucks being hurt and that reduces my trust for others.
- It’s hard to trust others when you can’t trust yourself: I’ve been working hard at rejecting my negative voice that tells me I’m not good enough, but it’s hard to trust others when you have to fight your own negative feelings. If I have these thoughts, why wouldn’t others have similar thoughts towards me? If I’m not always honest with people, how can I trust other people to be honest with me? This means if someone stops talking to me, I can’t fully know if it’s because they’re too busy/distracted or I somehow upset them. Again, this affects trust.
So what is the positive message that can be taken from this post? Life is hard and it’s up to us to develop a thick skin and get better at brushing things off. When people backstab us (and they will), when life sucks (and it will), when we lose a loved one (and we will), when friends disappear (and they do), we need to be ready to get back up again, which is a song I’ve been hearing over and over for the past couple weeks because my daughter loves it. Perhaps you’ve heard it; it’s sung by Anna Kendrick and it’s from the movie Trolls.
This week may you start to work on having a thicker skin.
Rev Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, Learning to love dumb people