Who do you trust? Your mother? Your father? Your children, spouse, neighbor? Your girlfriend’s brother’s cousin’s friend? Do you trust an ad on tv or a product endorsed by a celebrity? How about what you read online?
Who can trust you and why? When you give your word or say that you’ll do something, do people believe you? How do you know? Do you look them in the eye, extend a firm handshake, or write up a contract? After agreeing, do you back out, come up with excuses, or simply forget? How does that affect how others view your trustworthiness?
In Marriage, more than in almost any other human relationship, trust is vital. This is especially true when children are invited into the family. Trust becomes even more important when the decision is made for one parent to stay home to care for and raise those children.
The stay at home parent trusts her spouse to provide financially, but also for healthcare and retirement. She trusts her partner to go to work and to be at work. She trusts him to interact professionally with people he meets in his workplace and in nothing more than friendship to those he meets outside of his job. She trusts him to love.
The working parent has a great trust in the stay at home partner. He trusts her to provide for his flesh and blood. He trusts her to feed and clothe and bathe them but also to read to them, laugh with them, and discipline them. He trusts her to teach them right from wrong, to keep them safe from harm, and to be strong in their faith. He trusts her to love.
Both spouses trust that when they reunite at the end of the day they will find acceptance, friendship, and a partner choosing to love. They know reality means this will not be the case every day. They know that some days are just hard. They know that they will have days when a misinterpreted view or snarling glance causes injury or anger, fear or frustration.
They trust they will work these things out. They trust that good days will outweigh bad. They trust that each will act for the short term but visualize the long term. They trust that each will have the imagination to view a time, after all the chaos of having young children and insanity of the teen years are gone, that they will connect on a level that only comes from surviving the rough patches.
They trust in love for each other and from each other.
As far too many know, that love doesn’t always last the way we think it should and one or both partners choose to begin the slide that allows them to eventually choose to turn away. They seek happiness in places they vowed they’d never go, in people they’d once have turned away from, and in things they shunned others for doing not long ago.
The temptation is to blame the partner, blame the institution, blame the Sacrament, blame society, blame yourself, blame, blame, blame. Casting accusations and pointing fingers get us nowhere, doesn’t fix the problem, and imprisons us in unforgiveness. No matter how society tries to tell us divorce is okay, that children are resilient, and that we need to “move on,” the truth is, lasting problems arise when a Marriage is defiled.
Problems increase exponentially when the Marriage vows are shred and divorce is chosen. A decree of nullity does little to change this. Children and abandoned spouses still feel extreme pain. Anger and bitterness threaten to rule. Insecurity and division rule children’s hearts when they lose their sense of permanence as they are forced to travel from house to house and put their parent’s happiness ahead of their own.
It is that backwards view of love, such as we see when the child is expected to sacrifice his stability for a parent’s happiness, that makes divorce so painful. It is not the blame of the partner or Marriage, society or yourself that causes lasting heartbreak. It is a misunderstanding of Love and a placing of Trust in the wrong people and things.
Trust Lives in the Gospel of Matthew:
In the readings from this final Sunday of Advent, we see the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1, verses 18-35 tell us a bit of Joseph, Jesus’ foster father, and what kind of man he was. In Joseph and Mary, we see degrees of trust almost inconceivable today. That trust is not limited to, or based upon, a trust in one another though. That trust lives in all they do and in all they surround themselves with.
Mary was raised by loving parents, two people we know as saints today, Saint Anne and Saint Joachim. What role models they must have been for her! What amazing providers of virtue they must have been. How carefully they must have prayed over the who would Marry their immaculate daughter! How Mary trusted these two!
I know little of Joseph’s parents or who or how he was raised but guess he must have had trustworthy role models too. Joseph was hand picked by God, just as Mary was, to be the guardian of Jesus on earth, to care for Mary and the Baby. The Lord trusted Joseph to take Mary to Bethlehem away from from the gossip that must have run rampant, targeting her in their small town. God trusted Joseph with the flight from Herod’s men. He trusted him with Jesus’ daily care. He trusted Joseph to, day in and day, out make the choice to provide financially, for healthcare, and for Mary’s future. How the Father trusted Joseph!
Joseph was probably about 18 or 19 years old at the time. How much do we trust our 18 and 19 year olds? How much responsibility do we give them? How much weight do we try to remove from their shoulders when that weight may build character and help them become the Men they are called to be?
What an awesome responsibility young Joseph was given! What an incredible weight he must have felt, yet Joseph trusted what he heard in a dream! How is this possible? How must he have felt to discover his innocent bride-to-be was bearing a child that was not his? How many men would have been hurt, offended, angered, and felt the need to retaliate? How many would have gossiped and scorned their betrothed? How many would have publicly renounced her as happens today on shows like Jerry Springer? How many add fuel to fires as we, the audience, revel in pain like spectators cheering on the slaughter of innocents in ancient Roman arenas? To follow that dream, how Joseph must have trusted himself!
2000 years ago, there must have been uproar over the scandal of an unwed mother, especially one pregnant by someone other than her betrothed, but we don’t hear of it in this case. Neither Mary nor Joseph, Saint Anne nor Saint Joachim cry out in pain and anger for justice in those early Gospel passages. Instead, they quietly trust, but that trust is not just in each other. That trust is ultimately in the Lord.
Trust in the Lord:
Imagine the level of trust in God that went into Mary’s yes when she was approached by the angel. Imagine the level of trust Joseph had in himself when he had the dream calling him to be the earthly father of his own Savior. Imagine the level of trust Mary’s parents had as they sent their pregnant daughter off to be counted in the census.
But imagining doesn’t grow trust and experiencing the peace that accompanies trust doesn’t happen by accident. When trust in another is shattered through betrayal in an affair or addiction or some other seemingly insurmountable way, fractures in trust stretch far beyond individuals and immediate circumstances. Fractures in trust threaten future generations, future relationships, and future abilities to love and be loved.
Those fractures in trust can be stopped however. They can be mended and broken parts of us can be made stronger, adding beauty, giving character, and shaping us into those we are called to be.
Building trust after betrayal, whether you remain in the relationship of not, is not an easy process and cannot be rushed. It is requires boundaries and clear understanding of which “rules” can be bent and which must remain firm. Distrust is not a life sentence for those who have discovered a spouse’s affair or who have been abandoned in divorce, but it can require a lifelong commitment to occasionally and quietly inspect weak points where distrust may threaten to creep in again, warranted or not.
Trusting after betrayal means surrounding yourself with trustworthy people as the Holy Family did. It means getting away from the gossips and not becoming one yourself. It means trusting yourself enough to believe in your dreams.
Building trust takes practice. Building trust takes nurturing. Building trust means not jumping into decisions or relationships or commitments but discovering who is trustworthy and placing trust in the hands of the right people. It means patience and waiting for God’s timing rather than our own. Building trust means guarding one’s heart but not closing it off.
We do this by giving our trust first to the one who is trustworthy. We must recognize that ultimately there is only one who will never let us down, one who will never disappoint, one who is always and forever is trustworthy in all times and all matters, one who never goes back on His word, one who never breaks the rules, one who always rewards the faithful and punishes the guilty in a time He sees fit to do so. We must recognize that there is only one who is trustworthy because He is Truth.
Trusting after Divorce & Betrayal:
In divorce and betrayal, it is easy to see so much pain and suffering that one can be tempted to vow to never love again. It is easy to see yourself as part of a broken family, so far removed from what the perfect family should be, so very different from the image the Holy Family provides us with. It is easy to fall prey to negative thoughts and what the world dictates we do. It is easy to crave love and confirmation of our worth to the point of falling for someone who we are not meant to be with. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking Matthew 1 is just a nice story with no applicable connection to us today, but it wasn’t just a nice story and it applies to you today more than to anyone in history because it is your history.
Matthew 1 is more than a nice story. It is history that changed the world. It is history based on trust built over years of making small decisions that built trust in big ways. It is history of individuals surrounding themselves with likeminded people and then stretching beyond their comfort zones to do the seemingly impossible. It is a history of love based on Truth. It is a history that affects generations across cultures and barriers. It is a history built on a tiny Baby in a manger and the people around Him who chose to trust in Him.
Betrayal is a page in your book, but this is your history. What steps will you take today to build trust? How will you allow your history to change your future?
The Father is calling you to love by opening your heart and embracing His plans for you. Trust in Him. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He loves you. You can trust Him and be free to love.
And, as always, thanks for commenting, liking, following, and sharing!
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3 thoughts on “Trust Me. It’s More than Just a Nice Story”
yes, another enjoyable read filled with thought provoking questions for a better self-awareness and deeper understanding through Christ.
Now I maybe wrong, but honestly I don’t believe Joseph trust himself all that much. While his presence was vitally important in God’s plans and we know very little of him, I would proffer that Joseph truly trusted in God to see him through all things, especially in all matters of Mary.
Joseph, like all of us, was human and flawed with trust issues so I feel confident, the visiting translucent Archangel Gabriel is also serving a confirming Angel to all of mankind as a Trust bearer to God’s overall plans.
In my mind, “trust” is also a translucent essence required in all relationships to…prosper, much like Mary’s birth of Jesus.
I personally find it incredible that Mary’s name in modern day society has “become” over time, also “homogeneous” with both Holy Matrimony (married) and most worldly marriages of two people faithing in a perfected union. I’m sure many scholars would point out the mere coincidences and flaw of my hypothetical and that in itself is fine with me. Like Joseph, I will simply continue in my beliefs.
Wishing you and your family very Merry Christmas and continuation of prosperity in the New Year…
Thanks Poet of the Light. I was trying to figure out how to write about Joesph’s “trust” in himself and you hit the nail on the head expressing my doubts perfectly (again!) I still am not sure how to say what I’m thinking exactly, but it goes something along the lines of Joseph had confidence in himself BECAUSE of God to do what he would not have otherwise been able to do. I guess I look at it through doubts I’ve had in myself. For example, when I was younger, I was asked to do a reading for my high school class. I went to an all girls’ Catholic HS and it was to be a Lenten/Easter celebration. I’m not sure now what we were celebrating exactly, but I remember the Dean of students pulling me from class to practice over and over saying we were inviting parish priests in from more than 10 parishes and everything had to be right! At the time, I was no public speaker and, even though I believe God wanted me to do a good job proclaiming His Word while not putting the pressure of perfection on me as my dean did (Who I actually learned to love despite that day’s pressure! lol), I talked myself out of doing a good job. It has become something I can laugh at now and use in some of my talks so God definitely had a purpose to my insecurity, BUT I lacked the confidence in my ability to see myself as able to do His works. Still not sure that explains it exactly, but I’m running out the door (I’m always running out the door!) and want to get back to you asap.
Yes, in short, Joseph’s trust was ultimately not in himself but in God. I just think too often people doubt that they can be worth enough to have God actually call them to do something and then follow through with it.
I like what you said about Mary and matrimony too and have wondered about that connection myself. Thanks for pointing it out here!
We are enjoying a very wonderful Christmas and I am so grateful this is my year with my boys! Heading off to visit my Grandfather now. Merry Christmas and Happy 2017 to you as well! 🙂
Yes, Strahlen… i do know what you mean about being extra busy in an already hectic life. I’m blessed (most of the time)mine has slow to a snail’s pace these days.
I do not believe we are meant to so perfect as not to need Christ. Our fallibility as humans serves as evidence of that truth. Like Joseph we will find fault in our own ability and when we don’t, the world most certainly be there to whisper it, attack our confidence. I point to your HS experience as a great alignment of that. While you may have felt confident enough to “grin and bare it” someone outside of you (Dean of students) played the role of the world by use of “worry” to infect your confidence, not in yourself, but in the confidence you held with Christ. Unbeknownst to them and yourself, the passages of Matthew 4, “Christ temptation” is at play here. You were lead away from the others (desert) and ( your ego constantly tempted in hopes to diminish it) leading you up to the podium (parapet wall through another’s perverted confidence that they were instilling- place of elevation over others) trying to instil a sense of Lordship in hopes you would become overly confident to do it all on your own (tempting Christ) and fall during your speech, but you must have remained humble enough to let God use you for his purpose, even if you had no idea the God was.
It’s a shame the Dean of students faith in Christ wasn’t enough that Christ would be there with you no matter your ability. After all it is another representation of “unconditional” accepting someone (flawed reading or not) through Christ. OR…Christ was at work all along, which I am more likely to accept. That event was practice you you then for today’s lifetime. Christ was there then as he is now…so long as you hold that faith you are doing what it is God needs done. Do not try to be Gods eyes to quantify anything/anyone, be instead God’s heart at work alive and well and love from it the best why you know how….through the very passion you have already been gifted.
You explain a lot more than you realize, for those who are active listeners/readers. For those who are not, perhaps they are not meant to listen but be an audience for your practice.. into a perfection in process.
So- my friend, you need not trust in yourself so long as you trust in Christ while you perform the passion. Who are we to discern if it is God’s plan when we already know everything is in God’s plan.
And…God calls everyone no matter their innate ability may be perceived “humanistically”.
God bless my friend, and “whatever he ask of you, do it”
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