Trust is such an important factor in my relationships. I remember when the children were young and I tried to teach them about trust and it was always one of the highest achievements they could reach with me. I never gave it to them without their earning it. Children just like to have things go their way and mine didn’t think twice about telling me what I wanted to hear so they could get their circumstances to line up with their own plans and ideas. We had to teach them how to tell the truth! When I caught them in a lie I assured them they were starting back at zero with my trust and it must be built up and gained slowly. I would need to catch them telling the truth many times before I could trust them again. Being trustworthy is one of the most important character qualities I wanted them to learn in my care. This meant I had to be a mama with a no-nonsense, firm, and tough nature. At no point did they ever lose my love, and they always knew this. But losing trust was a choice they made when they didn’t tell me the truth, a circumstantial problem that was unrelated to my love. In fact, I loved them enough to discipline them for lying.
It’s not easy to acknowledge that my own children will lie to me. As parents we want to believe that what they are telling us is always the truth, because they are angels. Because I want them to learn to be trustworthy, and it is so vital to me that they are, I am willing to be realistic and admit, my children will lie to me if they think they can get away with it. That shouldn’t make me sad, it is just the way it is. So, my job is to not let them get away with it. That’s really a stinky job, to be on the lookout for lies and carry out the consequences of them. I have to love them a lot to bother with that kind of a mess.
I had a friend in high school that did drugs. I was a goody two shoes and scared to death of ruining my dancing career and losing my straight A’s, so I couldn’t indulge. I also wasn’t so good at getting away with things without being caught. I asked him how he could do it without his parents finding out. He said something I would never forget, “they know, they just pretend not to notice.” Even as a teenager something inside me registered as a note to self for future reference, “don’t ever look the other way but confront everything with truth when you have kids.” I felt sorry for him because I couldn’t believe they really loved him to look the other way.
As a beginning mom with young children I learned if I establish a standard when they are young and draw a firm line and be consistent with the consequences every time, and even make sure to check carefully that they are not hiding or concealing the truth then they will learn it is not worth it to lie to me. I hoped if I could teach them to give it up when they were young I wouldn’t have teenagers who were sneaking around.
I was right about that. I know the big boys are still trying to get away with some little things, and when I catch them it’s Trouble. I am a mama who goes to the trouble to confirm a sworn truth. But I can say for sure, they aren’t going to fool with trying to get away with the big things because they know the consequences aren’t worth the thing they want. But also having my trust is a sweet spot they don’t want to lose. When I think of the big things I did as a teenager, I shudder! Things like sneaking out of the house at night, taking the car, going places I wasn’t supposed to be, sadly, even taking things that weren’t mine. One time I told my mom I didn’t have a dance rehearsal so I could go to a concert with my friends. My director called my mother and I got caught. I also got dropped from that company. I learned the hard way it wasn’t worth lying. That was a turning point for me, I felt awful being caught and that’s what taught me the truth is better. I’m so thankful that director didn’t shrug and think, “teenagers”.
Trust is so important in every relationship that if they can learn this young, they can have good success in all of their future relationships. I trust Craig explicitly, and I know he trusts me. But each day we have to make choices to continue to prove we can trust one another. It’s not something to take for granted or expect in a relationships. It’s work, daily choices that add up to trust. As I make new relationships in my life, trust is not expected or demanded, it is earned.
Here’s the real truth: every person on earth will disappoint me at some time so I am wise not to expect perfection from people. I cannot have unrealistic expectations of people because no person can be god for me. I know that I know that I know God is the only One who is absolutely trustworthy. I put all my trust in Him. The first bible verse I learned in my twenties was proverbs 3:4-5, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” So when people disappoint me, there is grace, mercy and forgiveness because there is love. If the Father can give me grace when I’ve done wrong, then I in turn extend it to those who do me wrong. Why? Because there is love flowing, ever flowing from the source.
So I have a question of the week. How do you establish trust in relationships? I think we could all benefit from hearing each other’s experiences with building trust in our relationships.