The last couple of weeks’ discussions at our depression impact group have centered around the issue of connection with other people and trust. John Ortberg had published an article that stated that healing begins with connection- to God and to others. We explored some of the various activities of daily living that demand at least a rudimentary level of trust in other human beings. Then we looked at various scriptures related to trust and discussed the advantages of being vulnerable in order to risk building trust with other people.
This week, as I waited to visit with a physician- something that occupies 50% or more of my working day- I read a brief health watch blurb in the April 11, 2005 edition of U.S. News and World Report. The article is entitled “The Origins of a Trusting Mind”. It reports that researchers have located the part of our brains where the feeling of trust is actually formed, the head of the caudate nucleus. PET scans were utilized in the research and identified brain structures that responded to transactions requiring trust. “Building a bond with another human being is the basis of civilization, ” says study author P.Read Montague of Baylor College of Medicine. He further stated that trust is the first casualty when mental health declines.
One refrain I hear often from people in emotional distress is that they have “trust issues”. Some people have developed a very comprehensive personal philosophy and justification, usually related to family of origin relationships, as to why they hold people at arm’s length or run at the first sign of conflict or disappointment. Sadly, they often feel security in having built walls around themselves to protect themselves from hurt by not trusting others, including God.
Cloud and Townsend have taught for years about the need to have appropriate boundaries in place. It seems to me that often it isn’t lack of boundaries that is problematic for people, but that their boundaries are set too high, too close in, and are fortified too strongly to even allow for the divine and human connections that are needed to bring healing.
“Confido”- I trust. That is my birth family’s motto, taken off of an ancient family crest. I can’t say that I have always been a trusting person. A naive person, perhaps. Uneducated in the ways of the world early in my life, perhaps. Protected by my parents, certainly. I think that is part of the reason I’ve experienced some harsh lessons on hurt and disappointment. But, thankfully, the Lord has been faithful. I have not built up high, tight, and fortified walls that keep me from entering into relationships easily. I think it is that the primary object of my trust, Christ, is so central to my willingness to engage with others, that even if my experience with other people is disappointing, my trust in the Lord is not challenged. My vertical relationship holds- is well anchored- even as the horizontal relationships rise and fall.
A few years ago as I was preparing to direct a women’s retreat, I prayerfully sought guidance on the choice of theme and scripture for the retreat. I kept coming back to the same thing- ‘trust’. Psalm 37:3-5 became the basis for the theme: “Trust in the Lord and do good and you shall dwell in the land securely. Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to Him; trust in Him and He will act.” It continues to undergird my life. Some have criticized me for my positive, optimistic outlook, for my confidence that things will- and do- ultimately work out well and for expecting the best of people and situations. I’ve been told that is a formula for sure disappointment. I haven’t found that to be the case. Rather it is becoming the catalyst for more mercy, generosity, and compassion. When one’s confidence in Christ can’t be broken, no matter what, then the whims and fickleness of the rest of the world become less troublesome. Perspective is everything. Centering one’s trust on Christ assures that everything else falls into its proper place.