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Learning to Trust

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Colossians 3:12-14

Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Without it, true communication, growth, and love are impossible.

Several factors can inhibit trust, including:

-- Malicious intent. Sometimes, people set out to deliberately hurt one another.

-- Accidental hurt. Sometimes, although they have the best of intentions, people hurt one another in ignorance.

-- Misunderstandings. Sometimes, what one person says isn’t what the other person hears.

-- Emotional baggage. Sometimes, one person brings to the conversation past hurts that affect either what they say or do, or their reactions to what the other person says or does.

Interestingly, only one out of the four factors above actually provides a good reason for distrusting the other person: malicious intent. In the other three cases, there is no ill will involved, and therefore no real reason to distrust the other person. Accidental hurts do need an apology and forgiveness, but it is important to note that the error was accidental – not malicious. Likewise, misunderstandings and emotional baggage need explanations and apologies, but there is no malice at work.

Here’s one of the big challenges in relationships: even though only one out of the four factors is actually malicious, it is human nature to assume that EVERY TIME I am hurt, it was because of malicious intent on the other person’s part. We are very defensive creatures … quick to assign blame and pick a fight! So even though most of the time hurt is the result of accident, misunderstanding, or emotional issues, we lash out in attack and assume the worst about the other person. That, of course, tends to create a very ugly snowball effect in the relationship.

It can be tough to step back and really examine what was said and done in a relationship with true objectivity. We sometimes need help – whether from friends or professional counselors – to stop hurting each other.

The road can be rocky at times, but the end goal – loving, trusting, growing relationships – is well worth the effort.

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