How to trust others and protect yourself simultaneously.

It makes sense – the desire to protect yourself – but how do you do that and invest in community as we are called? How do you learn to trust people and protect yourself at the same time?

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Have you ever been hurt by someone? Maybe they broke a promise or did something behind your back? Have you ever been let down? Maybe they told you they were going to do one thing, and your trusted them, but they went and did another. Have you ever been lied to by someone you trusted? I know I have.

Even though we are called to community, it doesn’t mean every relationship we have is going to be good, fruitful, or life-giving. And even the ones that are great aren’t going to be perfect, without any fault. The truth is, we are flawed humans, which means our relationships are going to be flawed as well. This can result in negative experiences with others, tainting our view of community and desire for relationship. 

Trusting people can be hard, especially when you’ve been given many good reasons why it’s not a good idea to do so. When we’ve been hurt, taken advantage of, or lied to, distrust sets in and as a defensive mechanism to protect ourselves, we become closed off from relationships, skeptical and distrusting, isolated as a means of protection against the pain other humans can cause.

It makes sense – the desire to protect yourself – but how do you do that and invest in community as we are called? How do you learn to trust people and protect yourself at the same time?

God.

God is the reason we can invest in meaningful relationship even when there is a chance we are going to encounter people who aren’t trustworthy or safe. 

With God as our foundation and our ultimate, unwavering trust rooted in him, we can go out on a limb with others, knowing if they let us down, we won’t be destroyed. We can’t be left with nothing when our constant God has our back. Trying to protect yourself by distancing yourself from intimate, vulnerable relationships may look like a good idea from the outside, but it is actually doing more harm than good. It is taking away from your life rather than adding to it.

God is the ultimate protector and provider, which is why we can fully trust he has our back in all of our relationships.

He will never break his word, lie to us, lead us on, or hurt us, and when other people do, his love is always there to comfort and restore us. God is the reason we can do relationships well. He is the reason we can love selflessly without fear of getting burnt out or taken advantage of. It is with him and because of him we can learn to love and trust others, knowing we are safe to do so with the love of God as our support and foundation. 

But this doesn’t mean you’ll never be hurt again. People have free will and can do, say, and act however they choose. It does, however, mean you can be free to take a risk and forgive, trust, and dive into relationships wisely and healthily. Here are three ways to do just that:

Give people time to prove themselves trustworthy.

You don’t have to be an open book right away. It’s ok to give the relationship time to grow. Just like God allows us to show our trustworthiness in the small things before he entrusts us with the big, it is wise to allow trust in a relationship to grow rather than going in too strong and getting burned (Luke 16:10).

Use wisdom, be wise.

Some relationships just aren’t meant to be, and it is wise to know when to stay and when to walk away and then to actually do whichever you need to do in that situation.

Always be praying.

When you ask and allow God to be presently involved and active in every area of your life, and in every relationship within those areas, you are setting yourself up for more successful, fruitful, trust-filled relationships already. 

With God in the equation everything is better and everyone benefits. 

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

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