It is so easily diminished or lost altogether. It is so difficult to regain. Yet, it is so essential to any functioning relationship.
The dictionary defines trust as the “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Sounds pretty simple…and at the same time, extremely complicated. Can I assuredly rely on anyone’s character, ability, strength, or truth? And yet, the famous chapter of the Bible that everyone quotes regarding love tells us that love always trusts.
We cannot fully love until we fully trust. We cannot fully trust until we become fully vulnerable. We cannot become fully vulnerable until we are whole in Him who knit our hearts together.
So why is trust on my heart tonight? It has been something that we’re contending for in our family. It has been something that seemingly crept up with our otherwise trustworthy kids. Having come from a home where my mother was not trustworthy and did not extend trust to anyone, it is a sensitive topic for me personally. Love always trusts. I saw first hand how essential trust was in a relationship. How quickly distrust breeds resentment, disregard and even hatred. I want to always trust my little ones, especially when they grow into big ones. I am aware that they will make mistakes and will make choices that I do not necessarily agree with, but I hope and pray that they do so not in secret, but in confidence, always trusting that we as parents can lead them through anything.
You see, we’ve been getting these little hints that our kids are struggling with dishonesty. And dishonesty is the antithesis of trust. Their attempt at using dishonesty for their own gain is not something unique to just kids. It’s human nature. But it’s not something that I feel I can just say, “oh well, they’re trying to get away with this again. Better luck next time.” With each instance of deception, my trust with them suffers, and every time that my trust is eroded, our hearts grow further and further apart. So I’m thankful for the little clues that we’ve been picking up on. The past few days have been spent pruning.
It sounds extreme…the older boys are only 4 and 5. It’s so easy to just “maintain” the status quo of the family and “keep peace.” It’s so easy to write off little hints that the fruit that our kids have developed is starting to rot. It’s so easy to not notice that our schedules have gotten out of hand, and that we ourselves need to cut back and refocus on our family. It’s so easy to justify not having time to sit and listen to our kids’ hearts on a very regular basis. It’s so easy to say “they’re just kids!”
But it’s not so easy to rebuild broken walls of communication. It’s not so easy to pull a heart closer to yours that has been conditioned to choose dishonesty to get what it wants. It’s not so easy to love someone through hard times when there is very little trust left in the relationship. It’s not so easy to walk out the Scripture that says “love always trusts.” So yes, they are 4 and 5, with seeds of dishonesty that are growing by the day, all the while eroding my trust. How then shall we parent?
Our oldest boys have blindsided me lately. They definitely have inherited human hearts. When unsupervised, they have recently had difficulty following directions. When the door is closed, it has become more common for them to disregard our rules. When they do not think anyone is watching, their behavior turns from obedient to lazy. We prayed about what the real issue was. Yes, there was lying and selfishness...which are not light issues. But this is about trust. We need to trust them and they need to trust us. We want them to trust us to parent them through anything, good or bad. And we want to trust them to be honest with us with anything, both good and bad.
But once we started talking to them about trust, we realized they had no idea what that word really meant. I explained it like this: Imagine you were really hungry and I told you that I was going into the kitchen to make you breakfast right away. In 5 minutes, you walked into the kitchen and saw me not making your breakfast, but doing something else. Still, I told you not to worry, I was going to make breakfast right that instant. You would probably believe me, but would have to think about whether you should or not a little harder. Imagine you walked back into the kitchen again to find me not making your breakfast. I gave you my word that this time, I would start cooking. But yet again, you found me not doing what I said I would do. Trusting is knowing that someone is who they say they are and that they are going to do what they say the are going to do. Each time someone deceives us, becomes self-interested and forgets about their responsibilities, or decides all together to not do the right thing, we lose some trust in them. Because my example was about food, their love language, this really made sense to them.
The operational definition we are working on this week ironically is truthfulness. Truthfulness is defined as earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts. Admittedly, our boys know they had lost some of our trust. They know that their words and actions need to line up, even when the door is closed. Because of their past actions, there was a loss of trust. As a result, their punishment is that they cannot play in the basement playroom unsupervised. This is a major deal as this is the room of the house with only two rules: be kind to one another and don’t break a bone! But we were very clear that we want them to have the privilege of playing down there unsupervised again. We want them to understand that trust is easy to lose and hard, but not impossible, to gain. We are all learning that we can earn future trust by being truthful throughout the day, every day. They are working very hard, and I couldn’t be prouder.
Tonight, we had our old boys back. We enjoyed each other’s company, laughed, and had a peaceful evening. It hit me just how much dishonesty and mistrust affects a relationship…even with little ones. I know that our hearts wander. I know that it is easy for kids to dabble with fibbing to get away with things. But I want our boys to value honesty, knowing that honesty breeds trust, and knowing just how quickly and easily we can diminish something we’ve worked so hard to earn.
We are contending for full, real, true love in our family. And we cannot fully love until we fully trust.