Thursday, February 17, 2011

Love and Trust

It seems like love and trust go together. The stronger the love, the stronger the trust. In fact, the famous passage on love in I Corinthians 13 includes the very short, very direct sentence, "Love always trusts."

I've been thinking about this simple and profound statement tonight because it also defines what love is, in a way. If love always trusts, then what is it if trust is lacking? I understand that perfect love - God's variety of love - always trusts. But in our every day, imperfect relationships, something gets in the way of the love always trusting.

Ok, I'm talking marriage here. Let's be honest. I find it really hard to trust my husband in all matters at all times. I do. And he doesn't trust me in all things, all the time, either. We question each other's judgement. We're skeptical and we doubt each other and we look at each other with that, "Really?" "You really had to buy that?" "You really think THAT is the best suggestion?" "You really chose THOSE words to speak to me?" Most of the time, those questions are not even asked out loud. But my husband and I love each other too, and doesn't love always trust? It's hard to wrap my mind around the love and trust equation.

What I'm realizing is that one thing seeps in between love and trust. And that's fear. It has to be fear. Fear is the only thing strong enough to wedge in and start asking really reasonable questions. Fear asks "What if....?" and then suspends you without an answer. What if he doesn't really care how I feel? What if she doesn't really respect me? What if God isn't even listening? Fear throws you out over the edge of the cliff without a parachute. We are left spiraling down with an armful of problems that sound really possible.

And here's the thing. I am not trustworthy all the time. You are not trustworthy all the time. We all make mistakes and hurt each other. Which means throughout my relationships, I can live every day suspended by fear if I let myself. The only person trustworthy ALL THE TIME is God. Fear does not ever want you to know the only answer to a "What if..." is "...then God."
Love always trusts. The only way this statement makes any sense at all is in the context of a relationship with Him. If God loves us (and He really does), then we can always trust Him. Do you believe that? 

I don't believe the "Love always trusts" verse means that we should blindly trust others no matter what because that equals love. I have friends who have been really damaged by others' devastating sin against them. I am not about to tell them that real love always trusts. We can only ever trust in the Lord. I believe He can heal us, and allow us to trust our spouses and family members and friends despite our pain. But only through His work. Without Him, no matter what, love always speculates.

In my own marriage, I can get pretty close to perfectly trusting my husband. He can get really close to perfectly trusting me. But it won't ever be perfect trust, or perfect love. We are full of imperfect, and that's why we need Jesus. He takes our imperfect, offers us grace that we don't deserve, helps us to forgive one another, and says, "Don't listen to Fear. Don't even look over the edge at the What ifs. Trust in me instead."

I also thought about this verse, equally simple and profound. I John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear." Love and fear can't coexist. That's something to think about.

It's hard to stay wrapped safely in real love. Love from God, I mean. Keeping myself defined by His love for me prevents the fears from seeping in. I know he has my back. He is my net at the bottom of the chasm, even if I do let my fears take me down. And when I'm safe and filled up and made whole by His great, great love, it is so much easier to trust others, because I know I'm really trusting in God. All my "What ifs..." end in "...then God." He will be my help. He is ever worthy of my trust.

So today, I'm letting love seep in and drive out my fears, those subtle weeds that lead to division and strife. Love can patch up my every injury. Love will sever every cord with which fear has tried to bind me. It is not just a cheesy saying; Love will set me free.  

See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. 
Isaiah 2:12


  1. Nice! Fear is so crippling. Before I married the right man, I said to so many others: it's ok to make me angry, but it's not ok to scare me. Reading this, today, makes me re-realize how blessed I am to have married the earth, the rock...even though, as you say, there can never be perfect trust among humans.

  2. I struggle with fear all the time.....

  3. really powerful. big real stuff! fear is ugly. i just posted about this on my blog - how fear robs you. fear can wrap itself up so pretty and seep in to your heart so easily. the only thing that sucks the life out of fear is His love, grace and mercy.

  4. speaking right to me, once again. i'm just thinking how *right on* this statement is: "Without Him, no matter what, love always speculates." thank you for posting this.