Monday, September 28, 2009

Note to Self

Trust is a funny thing.  Sometimes the easiest trust to attain is the hardest to keep.  And once lost, trust is not easily restored to what it once was.

In a long ago episode of the Brady Bunch the Brady children were playing ball in the house, something they had been told not to do.  The game gets out of hand and Mom's favorite vase gets broken; the children work quickly to get each piece glued back in place and the vase "restored"  to its previous condition.  When the family sits down to dinner later in the day, a bountiful table is set, replete with fresh cut floral arrangement.  As dinner progresses the glue begins to fail in the presence of water and the vase begins to spring leak after leak, with the children pretending not to notice as their conspiracy unravels.  The vase, designed to hold water, had not been "restored;" it could no longer be trusted to do its job.

I come from a very unusual family.  We were a "blended family" before most even knew the definition, and we are blended in many ways -- racially, ethnically, religiously, "steps" and "halfs."  Some of these associations came from a long line of secrets and trusts betrayed.  The spouse who maintains romantic relationships outside the marriage, the sibling who steals from another, the child who begs for relief from abuse, only to be rebuffed by their "confidant"-- all make for great reading or daytime drama, but some have yielded extraordinary results in their singularity and passion; when forgiveness has been a factor some amazing things have taken place.  Unfortunately, forgiveness, on occasion has been followed up with more betrayal, further violating trusts and boundaries.  Like the vase, the trust no longer holds water.

The struggle I've encountered is forgiving, but finding it necessary to withdraw trust.  I am a failed, and sometimes most repugnant, vile creature.  Holding myself accountable to God's Standards finds me morbidly inadequate on my own, laughable if it weren't so sad.  But God, in His Grace has sent me a Redeemer in whose blood I am made clean, through whose intercession I am made worthy.  To not forgive is the ultimate hypocrisy, the ultimate affront to the Gift I claim to have received, and, in earthly terms, the worst example of "paying it forward" I could imagine.  Forgiveness, however, does not require the full restoration of trust.

The Old Testament warns in Psalm 146:3 not to put our trust in man; Proverbs 3:5 tells us instead, to "Trust in the Lord with all [our hearts]."  In the New Testament, Matthew 10:17, Jesus told His disciples to "be on your guard against men;"  in Matthew 16:20 He cautions the Disciples not to tell anyone He is the Christ.  God requires us to forgive, but to trust only in Him; it is our choice to trust or continue to trust our fellow man.  While on this earth, Christ acted on His trust of others by choosing to eat and fellowship with them; He also acted on His mistrust of "the son of man" by fleeing and choosing silence.

I would love to say the mere act of forgiveness has restored trust and strengthened every relationship, but that is not so.  Mistrust has ended some very close relationships -- relationships that, from time to time I have attempted to or, at least desired to renew -- not always successfully.  I have had to deal with those who say I am cold, unforgiving, even disobedient; others say I will regret not "making amends."  Point is, I can give love and forgiveness, but trust must originate from those desirous of it and willing to earn it.  I can no more "reconcile" with someone who does not wish to earn my trust than I can employ a person who does not wish to earn their pay.  I don't hate or disdain the "vessel," I just don't have to trust it to hold water.
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