In several places Paul tells his followers to trust his message because his very life is a testament to his faith. In today’s world, there are those we know and have known, whether they are friends or family, and because we know them, we trust them. Or do we?
II Timothy 3:14
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, . . .
Trust is a funny thing. It can be taken for granted or it can be nurtured consciously and strengthened over time. The longer and deeper I know someone, the more likely I am to discern whether he/she is trust “worthy.” Relationships are built on trust because people must be transparent to be trusted. Without transparency, the foundations of a relationship are built on sand. And yet, despite, weeks or months or years of building trust, it can be broken with a single word, a single act, a single observation.
As soon as mistrust raises its unholy head, there’s hell to pay. Rebuilding trust after a betrayal (whether perceived or real) takes longer than the first time around. We place the other under the microscope and we find additional reasons to “not” trust. We look for the lie. We look for the secrets. We expect the worst.
I believe this “breaking of trust” moment must be examined carefully and weighed against knowledge and familiarity and love.
In the past week, I have seen three relationships within my immediate family ripped apart (possibly in a permanent way) because of broken trust. Somehow, whatever was known about each other before that moment came, was not enough to stay the doubt and suspicion, to balance the scale of possibilities, to hold the cracks together. Whether it’s teenagers falling in and out love or mature adults running from the possibility of being hurt yet again, the process is the same and one or the other says, “I don’t believe you.”
And then, on top of that, in a public forum, I witnessed palpable abusiveness and accusations because of a perceived certainty that trust was broken. I wanted to stand up and yell, “Stop! You’re talking about my friend, you’re calling into question the integrity of someone I have known for twenty years.” I trust my friend. I trust my friend’s intentions. And it hurt me to watch the bubbling cauldron of bitterness and rejection. The words were different, but it sounded the same, “I don’t believe you.”
And that’s when I saw it, this moment of decision, to stand by what has been shared and spoken before, to remember the conviviality and the good intentions, to hold fast to the history. . . or not.
Paul tells Timothy to trust in the truth of what he has learned from his mentor, from his friends, and from his family. This is Paul’s last letter to his protege. Many, many people attacked Paul in the same way that the authorities attacked Jesus. They called them liars, fakes, and charlatans. They called them destroyers and divisive elements in the faith.
Who will we choose to trust in that moment when the vase is about to shatter? Who will we believe?