The Listening Booth

Theme of the Month – TRUST

You would probably not be surprised how often people ask ministers questions about trust, usually in the context of relationships that have disappointed, grown distant, or worse. People rightly wonder, “How do I maintain this friendship or marriage?” They ponder, “How can I ever trust again?” This presents a paradox into which we all must sometimes journey. It is not my place to tell folks whether to make themselves vulnerable. Yet the truth remains that human life craves and needs deep relationship, and that is only possible with trust.

The English word “trust’ comes from the Old Norse, “treysta” ~ “to rely on, to make strong and safe.” This form of the verb offers a wrinkle to our common understanding, and shows our paradox. Of course we need to know, “How can I trust someone with precious things, like my children, my ideas, my heart? On what may I rely?” But the word “trust” has baked into it also the meaning, “to make strong and safe.” This implies that trust is a prerequisite for strength and peace of mind. This is the heart of our paradox; we must employ the very thing we need, trust, in order to know we can “rely on,” or trust. Like many spiritual truths, this challenging one requires faith and hope. It requires us to be trusting at first, to begin and lead with trust. Trust is the currency of all meaningful relationships, especially congregational life.

As Ernest Hemmingway teaches, we only know if someone is trustworthy if we trust them. May you find ways in your heart to explore the task of this teaching, and may it bear fruits of joy, insight and love.