Trust issues

Fresh back from vacation and down with the flu for the past three days. All kinds of thoughts running through my head: what it was like walking the streets of Havana, plans for the near future, a member of our church in a hospital bed in Guatemala City, should I take Virogrip or Fluibron?

But above all of the them, the one thought that I can’t seem to run from is: ‘Trust issues, yes I have them’.

In church on Sunday, our pastor asked the question: ‘Do you have someone at Lifenet with whom you can be totally open and honest about your life’? Technically my answer is yes, because my husband goes to that church as well; but outside of him, my answer is no.

So even though I haven’t wanted to, the flu has given me quite a bit of time to face the issue, and to be honest, I haven’t gotten very far.

My story is probably very similar to yours: we trusted and we were betrayed. That is life. It happens. It’s actually the norm, I believe. In my case there was a divorce, a legal matter; people chose sides. Some I thought would always have my back, didn’t. I worried about the confidences I had shared with them, the things they knew about me that I’d prefer be kept between us. How safe was my life’s story with them? Had I chosen correctly? Wisely?

I learned that the closeness you share with someone during one phase of your life may not survive change or tragedy. Relationships need to be dynamic in nature for them to be able to go with the flow of life, and sometimes people just can’t be dynamic like that.

Christianity is big on having an ‘accountability partner’, someone with whom you can walk through years of your life, who will help you to walk the straight and narrow through the use of tough love. That person says the things you need them to say even though you don’t want to hear it; but accountability only works if you can be honest about what is truly going on in your life.

That concept has always baffled me. How do you find someone whom you can trust so implicitly as to be consistently open and honest with about your life, your thoughts, your struggles, especially in this tiny country we live in? So, I did the next best thing: I kept my circle small. I spoke freely with a few chosen ones believing my stories and I were safe there. I didn’t need an accountability partner because I had them.

But then divorce with all its swirling, strong, tentacles tore a swath through my small circle so devastating that I had to take my honesty and tuck it away in a place where I, with this newly acquired knowledge that not all relationships will survive, thought it was safe. I look at people now, and like the baby bird in ‘Are You My Mother’ by P.D. Eastman, I wonder, ‘Am I safe with you? Can you handle my honesty?’

Recently, during an intense conversation, a woman asked me how I was able to learn to trust my husband after what had happened in my first marriage. The answer was easy: he had proven himself to me, through some serious thick and some very dubious thin, my husband has been dynamic with me. He’s moved with the flow of my life’s changes, and he’s never been unreliable.

As I pray for restoration of some former relationships I wonder how I am supposed to be, to act. How am I to embrace, forgive? I think of the prodigal son returning home with that practiced speech and repentant heart, and that father who was waiting for him so longingly. Can I be like that father?

I picture my back, exposed in the battles of the past few years, and remember how I waited expectantly for those I loved and trusted to stand with me. As in an outer body experience I watch it replay in my mind like a movie. I see the arrows as they hurtled toward my back, and I want to run in and warn myself that I’m unprotected and vulnerable there, but then I see others I didn’t expect step in to help shield me, and fight off the incoming arrows. And I know that I never stood alone.

Still it’s so hard to trust. I want to live in freedom, but how can I trust again? How can you trust again?

I know it’s possible; so, after all this thinking and making sure I understand the reality of what it is I’m dealing with here, I come to the foot of the cross. and I pray. I mean really, what else can I do? I can’t force myself to trust. This work has to be supernatural. It’s got to be God intervening. I would hate to miss out on a few trustworthy souls just because others have proven themselves to be the opposite.

How do I handle those who have been unworthy of my trust? How do I know who I can trust? How do I start trusting people again?

Like I said, I haven’t gotten very far. I have no answers but I am searching for them. When I find them, I’ll be sure to share what I’ve learned with you.

©Debbie Mendoza, August 2017. Debbie Mendoza is the author of Exodus: A Journey Through Divorce and JoyHope. For speaking engagements: (011) 501-610-4375

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Strong and courageous

I publicly admit that I did not, on my own, have the strength and the courage to do what I needed to do. I had to have help, and God gave it to me in a way I could not have expected.

I chose to accept the help, strength, and courage, that came from a source outside of me.

I chose to reject the advice of giving myself time in between relationships, as good as that advice is.

Sometimes your strength comes from within you; at other times it comes from others believing in you.

A friend told me when I was about to undergo major surgery in 2011: ‘Be strong and courageous’, (found many times in the book of Joshua). I held onto those words when I felt like I was going to die in the hours before the operation and in the days after. I knew my physical strength would come back to me. I told myself I was strong and courageous. My strength came from within me, and with it, I overcame extreme emotional and physical challenges.

Years later I quickly remarried after getting divorced. I have questioned myself often (because I am unwaveringly analytical), ‘Did I do the right thing?’ I always come back to the same answer. Yes!

This truth about myself has caused me to stop wondering: as strong as I may appear to be, as purposeful as I am about being emotionally healthy, the relationship I had with my ex-husband was one area of my life in which I didn’t know how to summon strength and courage. I needed the particular wisdom, experience, helping hand, and push, that Jesse had to offer me; and he needed mine for different areas of his life. 

Were it not for my husband I could not have done the healing work I have allowed within myself. If I had chosen a life without him I would still be settling for significantly less than I should in many areas of my life. I would not have had the strength nor the courage to stay away from the kind of sadness I had grown used to. I would not have been able to set up boundaries, nor give myself the freedom to define myself for myself, instead of for everyone else.

Conventional wisdom says ‘take time in between relationships’, especially in cases like mine, after a marriage of nearly a quarter century. I agree with that,  and so I questioned if I should have taken that time because I know it is such good advice; but I also knew when Jesse proposed and I said yes, that he was exactly who I wanted.

So when people judge, condemn, and/or put me aside because of this unconventional decision I made, I can now easily tell myself, ‘They just don’t get it.’ Now I understand how Jesus was able to say, ‘Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.’ Lord knows that if I were in their shoes, I would have probably rejected me as well.

But I’m not in their shoes; I’m in mine. I’m very familiar with my shoes, where they’ve been, and where they’ve taken me.

I know my journey and what my heart has been through. I know the heartache, misgivings, and the self esteem issues that plagued me; and after unrelenting self-analysis, I have no doubt that my strength, courage, the ability to stand my ground, and to fight when I needed to in the last few years, were birthed in me because my husband who was first my friend, believed in me.

This is my story that came about through much prayer, as readers of my book Exodus: A Journey Through Divorce will have already heard about. I didn’t up and decide one day that this man would be the man to help me gain strength and courage. I believe this was a God-ordained and directed process. I defied convention and expectations because of the conviction of that belief. It became clear to me very early in the journey that I had to make a choice for myself with this man, or wind up in a worse place than I could imagine, (Seven spirits -Matt 12:43-45).

Your story and mine are different. The take-away I want to give you from what happened to me is that sometimes our strength and courage come from God-provided, unconventional, outside sources.

You may be refusing to accept the help you’re being offered because it isn’t being presented in a package that you would have picked for yourself. Get prayerful. Ask for your spiritual eyes and ears to be opened, and then start to live expecting God to answer your prayer in this regard.

Before God first tells Joshua (1:6) to be strong and courageous, He tells him, “I will never leave you or forsake you.’ That is solid truth right there. God is the One who provides your strength and your courage, and He can package that however He chooses to.

To be strong and courageous means to stand on the strength you already have, and to accept the help you need, especially when it comes from a God-ordained source outside of yourself.

Sometimes your strength comes from within you; at other times it comes from others believing in you. You are strongest when those two come together. 

 

©Debbie Mendoza, July 2017. Debbie Mendoza is the author of Exodus: A Journey Through Divorce and JoyHope. For speaking engagements: (011) 501-610-4375

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