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Trust, distrust and blind trust: rebuilding faith and hope

Over recent weeks, in my healing journey, I have been examining my relationship with trust. It first came to my attention when I looked at my business decisions, especially mistakes that I have made over the past 20 years. But, in recent days, I noticed a pattern emerge.

The beauty of recognising patterns of behaviour is that it opens the door for change and transformation. What I’ve noticed is a swinging pendulum in my life between distrust and blind trust. This pattern has cost me thousands of dollars, as well as relationships and creating heartbreak.

It is in seeing my actions and omissions accurately that the doors open.

The truth sets us free.

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free, John 8:32

Let me provide you with some concrete examples: 

  1. In my early business days, I hired a friend to run one of my companies. Because I was overwhelmed and swamped with the growth in business and hiring new staff, I failed to supervise her properly. She was struggling in getting everything done, and I wasn’t available to support her. I didn’t ask how things were going, instead choosing to focus exclusively on my own overwhelm. Unfortunately, while she was getting the client work done, she wasn’t invoicing the client for it! By the time I realised the mess in accounts receivable and payable, the client had accrued some $40,000.00 in services they hadn’t paid for. Thankfully, the client eventually paid all outstanding invoices. But it took years to get fully up to date, and I bore the financial brunt of being caught between suppliers and financing a client. When I’m overwhelmed, I shut down, dissociate from the present, and turn to blind trust. 
  2. In March 2009, I left on holiday for three weeks to New Zealand. I chose the dates based on the weather (end of summer) and flight costs (cheaper because summer holidays were over and it wasn’t yet Easter). I was overwhelmed and exhausted after restructuring staff following the 2008 markets crash. Unfortunately, March 31st is the end of tax season – which meant that my company tax returns were prepared and presented in my absence. The company accountant and external accountants included a refundable expense in “income”, an extra $54,000 in ghost income! As a result, my income tax bill that year was $27,000.00 when it should have been less than $9,000.00. But, you prepay taxes for the next year, based on the estimates of what you paid the previous year! So, not only was I hit with the current tax bill, but my estimated taxes for the next year were identical, giving me a tax credit for years to come. My blind trust created a substantial financial pinch. 

I could provide you with many more examples in my professional life where I have distrusted, micro-managed and controlled every aspect of an employee’s performance, to those moments where I am overwhelmed and shut down, leading to no involvement or supervision at all.

Definitions

definition of trust, Oxford Languages, firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something
definition of Trust

Trust = firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something

distrust, feeling that someone or something cannot be relied upon, doubt the honest or reliability of, regard with suspicion, definitions from Oxford Languages
definition of Distrust

Distrust = the feeling that someone or something cannot be relied upon.

Blind faith or blind trust: “unquestioning belief in something, even when it’s unreasonable or wrong”. I take it to mean “trust in spite of evidence to the contrary” or blindly ignoring evidence that perhaps they are undeserving of your complete trust.

trauma, state of mind, overwhelmed, shut down, freeze, dissociation, present moment, avoidance, blind faith, trust, firm belief, distrust

How trauma informs our state of mind

Unfortunately, this pattern is not something I learned as an adult, and I’ve been using this pattern since early childhood. When I get overwhelmed, the easiest solution is to shut down and freeze, and this takes me into dissociation from the present moment and avoidance. In these cases, blind faith and trust in others become the only option, and I can’t trust myself. 

Hypervigilance at the other end of the pendulum presents itself as distrust, micro-managing every situation as I attempt to control the outcome. Of course, this is exhausting, making me angry (an emotion that I was taught not to acknowledge as a child) and frustrated. To avoid anger, I would rebound into dissociation and shut down.  

I never learned how to stay in the middle: in balance, calm and being alert. I struggle on so many levels with trust, and this shows up in my life on every level: 

  • personal 
  • interpersonal 
  • professional 
  • spiritual 

I could choose to sit in victimhood: “this is how I am, because of my childhood“. But I choose not to. I started to look at my patterns as generative learning – an opportunity to grow and change. And I share these learnings with you, because I want you to recognise that you have options and choices available to you.

As I have begun to experience inner peace, the wisdom of trust has become available.  

The human experiences that break trust, building distrust

Years ago, I denied being traumatised at boarding school because I wasn’t regularly beaten and abused. Anger and speaking up would earn you a beating, being labelled a Jezebel, or having a rebellious spirit.

I avoided beatings by being “a good girl”, knowing when to shut my mouth and swallowing any anger I felt. The survival skills I learned were to shut down, dissociate, and walk away. Unfortunately, those skills are not very resourceful and helpful in my life anymore.

There are many moments that I wish I were rebellious, angry & unruly. How I wish I had been the wild child that baulked the system and stood up against injustices, daring to question unfair authority. Instead, I chose the safety and security of apathy, withdrawal and indifference.
Unfortunately, as an adult, I still struggle with dealing with my anger, boundaries and injustice. As a lawyer, it’s easy to stand up for others. But I shrink instead of standing up for myself. I avoid confrontations of a personal nature, even when they would clear the air.

Through it all, I am entrenched in my independence. Of course, as I know now – hyper-independence is merely a symptom of trauma: unable to ask for help because I can’t trust others. Can I even trust myself?

Taught to obey Church leaders without question:

We had verses drummed into us, which in themselves were not wrong. But was the interpretation of these verses rightly applied?

Obey your leaders and submit to them, Hebrews, Romans, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God

Under no circumstances were we, children, to question those in authority because they were “appointed by God”. And if God wanted to remove them for wrongdoing, then it was merely our duty to “pray about it” rather than to do anything.

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment, Romans, Titus,

Even the hymns we sang reminded us that we were to “Trust and Obey” rather than stand up for ourselves or others. Helplessness was ingrained, and anything that was not as it “should be” was “God’s will”, and we were to endure it.

Biblical teachings: the human heart

But that wasn’t the only weapon in the arsenal of submission. In reading the below verses, repeatedly we heard: “The heart is deceitful above all things”. Divine Justice prevailing, to each according to their ways, patterns and actions received little mention. Instead, beatings were justified because our hearts were deceitful.

Those in power were above all of that.

The heart is deceitful above all things, devious & incurably sick.  But I - the Eternal One - probe the innermost heart & the innermost thoughts. I compensate & repay justly - how they really are, not how they pretend to be - to each according to their ways, patterns & actions, Jeremiah 17: 9-10

How can I trust myself if I believe that my heart is deceitful? What relationship or trust can I build with others if they are devious and incurably sick in their hearts?

If you question what I am telling you, you lack faith. Instead, you should “pray about it” and “trust God” to solve this for you.

If the prevalent attitude about human nature is one of sin and depravity, then there is no trust.

Maureen Murdock, “The Heroine’s Journey”

Divide and conquer has worked for centuries, both within the church and politics, and it’s as quickly at work today as it always has been. Even today, we hear who to distrust and then expected to place blind trust in authority.

But blind faith means that you have no ownership of your spiritual path or will. It relieves you of responsibility, creating victimhood. And victims are powerless, easy to manipulate.

I am so grateful for learning a new way: what it means to have a healthy trust.

trust, blind trust, distrust, integrity, benevolence, ability, competence, character, caring, credibility, reliability, intimacy, self-orientation, communication, compassion, caring, consistency, competency,
Trust

Trusting Divine Presence, trusting myself & trusting others

As much as I would like to say that my journey back to trust began with trusting Divine Presence in my life, that’s not the truth of my journey. My transformation started with an exploration of self-awareness for personal growth, and spiritual healing occurred after learning and personal development.

The first step back to trust was:

Know thyself.

In noticing my patterns of distrust and blind trust, I could explore what healthy trust means. Emotional and spiritual healing have come together as I worked with forgiveness of myself and others.

My trust in the Divine grows as I let go of my need to micro-manage and control every tiny detail. And in living in the Spirit, I trust my insight and intuition to build relationships with others.

What does it mean to trust me, others and Divine Presence?

Divine Presence, the elements of trust, apathy, withdrawal, dissociation, distrust, blind faith, blind trust, healthy trust

The elements of trust

Trust is not something we do from a place of apathy, withdrawal or dissociation. It is active and engaged: trust requires relaxed courage, curiosity, and calm presence. 

According to Grant Soosalu & Marvin Oka, in their book mBraining, they identify the four elements of trust (learning to trust yourself):  

  • Communication
  • Compassion
  • Consistency
  • Competency

Other authors and writers similarly identify the basic requirements of trust as: 

  • Competence
  • Character
  • Caring
  • Credibility
  • Reliability
  • Intimacy
  • Self-Orientation
  • Integrity
  • Benevolence
  • Ability

These authors point towards the same essential characteristics and requirements of trust. As difficult as it is, I have tried to group these together in a simple explanation:

Communication:

  • Is all about listening as well as sharing
  • As Covey says: “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood”
  • To build trust, it’s necessary to voice your wants, needs, desires and motives. It’s okay to have self-interest, but be open about what those interests are

“intimacy refers to your willingness to share appropriate information about the things that truly matter.”

Diana Gabriel, The 4 Components of Trust

Heart – Intimacy, Benevolence, Compassion & Caring:

  • Trust begins when we are open & transparent – even with ourselves
  • It is recognising my value and the value of others, leading to genuine empathy & understanding
  • Clear & heartfelt commitment to my personal wellbeing and the wellbeing of others
  • Only then can we build trusted relationships

Actions – Consistency & Character:

  • In order to build trust, there has to be congruence and alignment between what I say and do! This applies as much to promises I make to myself as what I promise others.
  • Predictable, reliable, & full of integrity
  • Loyalty, honour & duty
  • Respect and selfless service
  • Oriented to values and the vision – not just selfish interest
  • Clear set of principles, so you can be on the same wavelength
  • Can be counted upon

Ability – Competency & Credibility:

  • Mastery – skilled & knowledgeable
  • Has a domain of expertise and performs their functions well
  • Will speak up and give their point of view on the matter at hand from a point of knowledge
  • Stays current & up to date
  • Self-assured in their competence
  • Demonstrating progress towards goals


Emotional and spiritual healing: rebuilding trust 

When I look back at boarding school and these four qualities of trust, I find those in authority sorely lacking. If they had known better, they would have done better. But they lacked communication skills; they were authoritarian rather than compassionate. When I look at their actions, looking for consistency and character, I find them predictable, but I couldn’t count on them. They were not always congruent in what they said and did, as the rules did not apply equally to all. Perhaps worst of all, they were not skilled and knowledgeable, although they believed themselves to be.

We were left with an expectation of blind faith and trust in authority because the essential elements of a healthy trust were missing.

self-awareness, self awareness, building relationships, trust, authority, blind faith, qualities of trust, communication skills, compassion, consistency, character

Self-awareness

I now recognise that I have a proactive role in building relationships: I listen to the desires of my heart and trust my gut. I stay engaged and curious, rather than withdrawing. Instead of seeing myself as helpless and needing to be rescued, I recognise that I must play a part in building my future.

True faith is an inner alignment with yourself and with God. It’s a balance of trusting the universe to provide and doing your part to co-create with the Creator.

Jim Tolles “The problems with blind faith

Letting the Infinite flow in my life: rebuilding trust

The road back to faith, trust and hope is uneven and rocky. Sometimes, it’s the procession of three steps forward and two steps back as I fall into habitual patterns of blind trust or distrust.

I am learning to communicate and listen. As I consistently practise the presence of the Divine in my life, I hear the small, still voice of Spirit. It requires that I quiet my mind – that I sit in Silence and allow my heart to be still. It’s a daily practice in which my mastery builds up each day.

I have to choose to be open and transparent; it doesn’t happen naturally. There are times I want to shut down, and I have to make a conscious choice to be vulnerable and compassionate. When I commit to building relationships with myself, others, and the Divine, trusting relationships open up for me.

I sit in the Silence each morning to reconnect and refill my heart with the faithful love of Divine Presence, for I trust in Divine Love.
Each morning I listen to how I should walk and allow my Spirit to submit fully to Spirit

Ps. 143: 8

My understanding of what it means to rely on the Divine entirely has changed: it is no longer helplessness. I am not frozen in fear, unable to think logically or approach life with curiosity. I’m not keeping myself safe by being emotionally disengaged or apathetic. Instead, I am choosing to be fully present and connected.

From this place, I still choose trust, faith and hope.

Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on the Divine completely;
never depend upon your own ideas and inventions.
Give the Great Creator the credit for everything you accomplish,
trusting that Divine Love will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead.

Prov. 3: 5-6

Other posts your might find interesting on Blind Faith:

Divine Presence, trust, distrust, blind faith, blind trust, rebuilding faith, hope

Sermon: Giving Generously

Lectionary:

Mark 12: 38-44

LEARNING TO GIVE GENEROUSLY

President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

In the spiritual realm we might say to every Christian: “Ask not what God can give to you, but what you can give to God.”

I was recently rather taken aback with a University of Chicago study, which showed that secular children gave more generously than their religious counterparts (Nonreligious children are more generous), asking myself “what are we teaching our children in Church and at home?”.

The new research, done with children in six countries (Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey, South Africa, and the United States), included 510 Muslim, 280 Christian, and 323 nonreligious children. The study focused on one facet of moral behavior: altruism, or the willingness to give someone else a benefit that also comes with a personal cost.

The test revolved around that ubiquitous childhood currency, stickers. Children ages 5 to 12 met individually with adults who let them choose 10 of their favorite stickers. The children were then told that the adults didn’t have time to distribute the rest of their stickers to other kids in a fictive class. But each child was told they could put some of their 10 stickers in an envelope to be shared with other kids, who were described as being from the same school and ethnic group. The scientists used the number of stickers left in the envelope as a measure of altruism.

The children from nonreligious households left 4.1 stickers on average, a statistically significant difference from Christian children (3.3) and Muslim ones (3.2). Also, the more religious the household, based on a survey of parents, the less altruistic the child. In older children, the split was most stark, with religious youth increasingly unlikely to share.

The most stunning finding, for me, was that some of it was based on “who will know” – i.e. whether or not anyone would know which child gave how much.  The secular children were found to be more consistent in their acts – irrespective of whether someone would know or not that they were the one that gave – they would do good whether or not someone is watching.  As Christians, have we really taught our children to act and behave in a particular way because they think they are being watched, because they think they have to, because it makes them look good and others see them in a good light?

There’s a saying I saw on Facebook:  expectingsomething

If you’re helping someone and expecting something in return, you’re doing business, not kindness.

 

Our reading today from Mark shows a stark contrast between those who simply do good for the perceived benefit that they will receive and those who quietly go about doing good in the background.  Jesus was harsh against the scribes, as teachers of the religious law – because they should know better!

Jesus talks about the practices of the teachers of the law. These were the professional interpreters of the religious laws. They were responsible for copying, editing and studying the sacred texts and explaining them to the people. They were learned men, some of the few in society who could read and write. Having these skills gave them power over others.  They paraded about in flowing robes and were waiting to receive respectful greetings as they walked about.  They looked for the seats of honor and to be seated at the head tables in banquets.  They pretended to be pious by making long prayers in public, because they were paid  by the length of the prayers: they learned the art of making long prayers, because longer the prayer, the more money they received.

Jesus gives quite a damning indictment of the actions and words of the teachers of the law. In fact it’s probably one of the sternest remarks that Jesus ever gave. What would Jesus criticize of the pastors and teachers of today?  We may not wear long flowing robes, or prayer shawls, but I wonder if, in the church we are at times like the teachers, with a religion of show, a religion is is about the outward appearance and not living out the faith in daily life.

And yet, all the while, a poor widow caught Jesus’ eye, for her two pennies – giving everything she had to live on, and putting her trust and faith completely in God to supply her needs.   Keep in mind, that the word poor used in Jesus’ time meant pauper, destitute, in deep poverty.  No doubt her poor dress and appearance showed her desperate plight.  What she gave was a real sacrifice! What the others gave was not a sacrifice! It did not cost them nor hurt them – they gave only what they could spare!

How many times are we giving God the crumbs of the leftovers?  How many times do you find yourself talking from a place of scarcity?  I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough money, there aren’t enough hours in the day, I’m out of energy, I’m too tired? What about your important relationships? Are they getting the best of you, or just the rest of you?  I would really like to, but I just can’t fit it in…

The law of the harvest, the law of sowing and reaping is seen in our giving and in our failure to give. Where are you sowing your time and energy?  If  Jesus spent a day watching you, what would he say about how you are spending your time, your talents and your material wealth?

2 Corinthians 9, verses 10-11 reminds us:

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous…

Giving is an evidence of God’s providence – We are able to give because we believe that God provides.

Before this, 2 Corinthians 9, verses 6 to 8 stated:

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Our generosity is measured not by what others give but what you are capable and willing to give. So if you want to know if you are generous, then evaluate your capability and willingness to give. And this doesn’t just apply to your money – it applies to your time and your talents, to how you are investing every asset (material or otherwise) in your life.

This passage teaches us how much God really wants from us. This goes beyond money. The main example in this passage is money, but it extends into all aspects of our life. This relates to time, abilities, responsibilities, and money.

John Wimber says:

Show me where you spend your time, money and energy, and I’ll tell you what you worship.

If someone wrote your biography on the basis of your checkbook and your appointment diary, what might it say about you, your loyalties, your focus, and about whom you serve?

This morning I pray that when Jesus looks at us as we give – not just this morning but always – I pray that he will find cheerful, extravagant givers, who have discovered that God is able to make all grace abound to us, so that in all things at all times, we will have all that we need, abounding in every good work. Abounding in time, abounding in energy, abounding in patience and grace, abounding in love, and abounding in generosity.