Hope for the one with Trust Issues

With all the I have, what I really need

Let me tell you three true stories from the past two weeks.

  1. I got a letter from a reader who came across Liz’s story. Liz is one of the courageous ones who was rescued from sex trafficking, and is now working to set other girls free. The writer of the letter said she knew her from youth, and was devastated to read that she had been prostituted during the years she knew her. It couldn’t be true, she concluded: Liz must be delusional or lying.

Who can we trust to tell us the truth about the past?

(*for the record, I believe Liz.)

  1. We got scammed in eBay. The short version is this: we had a smartphone to sell, and I got a message to say it had sold. The buyer wanted to expedite payment and shipping, saying it was a birthday gift for her son, and she was willing to pay extra. On receipt of an email from Paypal saying the money had been deposited, I paid for (ridiculously expensive) shipping and sent the phone off. It was received the next day. The day after that, eBay told me the buyers account had been hacked and the “paypal email” I’d received was fake. In other words: they sent me phony money, and I sent them a real Phone.

Who can we trust in business?

3. I read this article from Elizabeth Cohen, in which she tells of how she and her teenage daughter were friends with groomed by someone who turned out to be a sexual predator. This article left me feeling hollow and desperate for sleepless hours.

Who can we trust with our children? 

I am a woman with Trust Issues. The reason that e-commerce fraud, or hearing victim’s stories is so utterly terrifying to me is that is exposes my vulnerability. We all like to believe that we are a ‘reasonably good judge of character’. We like to believe that we are, to a large degree, able to assess risk for ourselves and our loved ones in a fairly reliable way.

What these stories do, however, is they peel back the veneer and reveal what soft bellies we have. We like to think that we would be able to spot a sexual predator just by looking at him, or that some inner “radar” would alert us when something was amiss in our communications with others. But the horrible truth of these stories is this: deceivers are really good at deceiving. They use, and abuse, our trust. They rely on being believable, and we, in turn, believe them.

Fraud wouldn’t work if those doing the deceiving didn’t have brilliant strategies and a keen understanding of human dealings. I like to think that all fraudsters are the types sending emails in poor grammar telling of Nigerian government millions which are mine if only I’ll reply with my bank details…. but the truth is that fraudsters steal real people’s authenticated ID’s, and tell moms like me that they want it faster for a birthday party.

Sexual predators wouldn’t get away with dozens of offenses if they couldn’t walk the streets as undetected, accepted, (beloved even!) members of society. They might be the arts teacher we love, the youth leader we supported on a short term mission trip, the friend we invited to spend time with our kids.

It is horrifying to me to realize that I move around from day to day giving people the benefit of the doubt, when danger is so near at hand. For the most part, I believe trusting people is the better way to live. I believe humans are made in God’s image and are innately valuable. I believe we all have capacity for good. I believe openness is a better policy.

However, the truth is also that we all have a dark side. None of us tell the whole truth the whole time, and each of us has, at some point, asked someone to believe something to be true when we knew that the facts did not quite line up. We are all under the influence of the Father of Lies, and “we are not unaware of his schemes,” writes Paul of the Evil One’s plans to outwit us (2 Corinthians 2:11).

I am reeling in the wake of the past few weeks and the vast number of people who are asking me to believe them. They have not all told the truth. There are schemes and deceptions woven into the fabric of even the “true” versions of events.

The solution can’t be to give up on trusting anyone at all. Grace requires that we bear with one another’s weaknesses, and forgive one another’s faults (Colossians 3) – all of these giving tacit admission that we are less than reliable in our dealings with one another.

And obviously, we would be fools to trust everyone. (And if you want to err on this side, you may want to stay well away from eBay. Free advice. Believe me.)

But somewhere in the middle, my confused heart is trying to figure out how to live in a beautiful and broken world again, where we need to be able to believe one another at a most basic level – and yet that faith is always vulnerable to betrayal.

In the midst of this, I am reminded once again that what a girl with Trust Issues really needs is one who is always trustworthy and faithful. My heart has been drawn again and again to that beautiful passage in Hebrews 6, where the author tells us that God made promises to us and, even though he never lies and doesn’t need someone to vouch for him, he wanted us to be secure in trusting his promise… so he added an oath to his promises. A double-vow.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, says Hebrews 6:19. It is firm and secure. The anchor’s name is Jesus.

I may have Trust Issues in this sea of uncertainty, but I have an anchor too, and it’s all that’s keeping me tethered right now.

We have this hope as an

 

Photo credit: Jyrki Salmi – Anchor (Flickr Creative Commons)/edited by Bronwyn Lea

13 thoughts on “Hope for the one with Trust Issues

  1. Thanks for sharing about your trust issues. I could really relate to your words about thinking “I should have known better. Or I’m street smart, how did I fall for that one?” Know what? It happens to us all. You got duped out of an iPhone. Imagine the hurt/shame of people who get duped out of thousands of dollars. That’s the worst part of fraud. We feel like it’s our fault. It’s not. Fraud is the work of evil people. I’d say pray for them (and that’s the right thing to do.) But that may be hard right now. I’ve found that the sooner I can forgive and pray for the one who harmed me, the sooner I can forget about getting my revenge and move on. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Trust and breach of trust are in constant flux in our lives, I think. I like my own company better when I lean toward trust and allow myself to get burned than when I lean the other way and try to keep myself unscathed.

    • That’s key, isn’t it: I’d rather be one who trusts and gets hurt than one who never ventures into the vulnerable space where hurt… and also love… can happen.

  3. Oh my goodness! These words hit straight to my heart! I am up now, past midnight, because I was scammed today. My husband just saved the day. Still out some money, but it’s not as bad as I thought. Trust has come up over and over for me as well in the past few weeks. So grateful to hear your timely words.

    • So sorry that happened to you!! It’s such a guy-wrenching feeling. Hope you are able to lay it down and get some sleep tonight – BL

  4. Thank you for these thoughts, Bronwyn.

    In regards to the sexual predators: I read a book about child pornography a few months ago. The author infiltrated the child porn chat rooms online to do his research. One thing that came up, over and over, was that the people who had been viewing/producing it the longest were the ones who were the “smartest” in how they did it. Only the “newbies” got caught, the pedophiles bragged, because they made stupid mistakes that revealed their identity to law enforcement agents. It occurred to me that this applies to anyone who does crimes like this, whether that’s scamming people or killing them or exploiting them. They get away with it (here on earth, at least) and no one knows that they’re getting away with it.

    It’s enough to make me paranoid. Except this: Christians aren’t limited to only physical, tangible means of uncovering evil. We have God and we can pray. Pray that they are caught, that they come to repentance, that they are stopped. God’s more powerful than any scam or technique.

    (Okay, that was a little off-topic. Sorry!)

    • Not off topic at all! Thanks for this. This morning I was reading Psalm 37 and these words caught my attention in light of being defrauded:

      Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious towards wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb.

      Trust in the LORD and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

      Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.

      Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in him, and He will do it.

      He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgement as the noonday.

      Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
      Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.

      (Just what I needed this morning 🙂 )

  5. As someone who has in the past been burdened by lack of trust because of circumstances in my childhood, I can say I’ve learned to truly trust others only as I learned how much I can trust God. Thank you for this, Bronwyn.

    • Whether it happens in childhood or in adulthood, betrayal is such an awful jolt. I’m with you in being so thankful that God teaches us that we can truly trust him, and that all trust of people is derivative.

  6. Beautifully said. And I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through.

    For me lately, it’s been grief… and the brokenness of this world. I hold to the promise in Hebrews 11, that God’s prepared a better city, a heavenly one.

    Thank you for the reminder that there is an anchor we can hold onto.

    • I love the thought that there are a community of us hanging onto the anchor together, Abby. Wishing you much grace today.

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