We open the heart and then find our trust is broken, but trust is fragile at the best of times, so we are wisely careful with the gift.
It’s those secret little internal vows we make that can cause so much damage.
As I wrote some words upon a whiteboard, I could see her affirm what I was writing. ‘I’m never going to trust again’.
She had opened her heart to someone, and it had got broken badly. She had trusted someone, shared the deep stuff, and now that part of her was locked in a coffin of her own making and was nailed down tight. A vow had been made.
The thing is that this exposure wasn’t the first time.
Many times as a child, she had reached out in vulnerability only to have her hands slapped. Every time this happened, she formed a belief that this world isn’t safe to venture one’s heart into. The vow was repeated.
There are secrets we all carry. Heart stuff that we don’t tell anyone, especially not those closest to us. There is too much at stake. We have a recurring question.
‘If you knew me, would you love me.’
An internal vow is made, and that vow is repeated over and over again by that small inner child within us.
We don’t go out to play because its easier and safer to stay inside, where it’s familiar and has controlled sterility to it. But locked rooms become stuffy. There’s no fresh air flowing in.
We want and need fresh air to flow into our hearts, but the vows keep the windows shut. We socially isolate ourselves in our self made bubbles.
We want to die, and the desire is granted. Something within dies because we were always meant to receive something of life from someone else.
In this post perfect world (Eden), we still have the lingering wafts of complete intimacy (in-to-me-see). We still have that desire and longing for love and to be known. But it’s no longer a world without weeds. Thorns jag us seemingly every time.
People use and abuse. They don’t know how to engage with something so fragile as a heart. Our subconscious gets triggered by ghostly echoes of a former time and place. It happens so quickly and powerfully that everything runs into it. We lock down and lock-in.
Trust is a fragile gift. We begin to trust someone, and so we open ourselves to being known. We feel held, and a sense of love begins to grow. A question forms around opening yourself further, sharing more of the deeper stuff?
To be held
‘I just want to be held’ were the heart-wrenching words they said.
Yes, on one level, they wanted a physical embrace, but more so, they were wanting to held at a heart level.
Not everyone knows how to hold. Not everyone is equipped. Most people don’t know what to do and how to respond to the naked exposure of another’s soul. They want to fix, problem solve, spiritualize, and slap band-aids on the pain.
Not many people know how to sit in Shiva anymore.
Shiva (Hebrew: שִׁבְעָה, literally “seven”) is the week-long mourning period in Judaism for first-degree relatives. Shiva embraces a time when individuals discuss their loss and accept the comfort of others. Wikipedia
We all have a loss in our lives. It may not be related to physical death, but it might be the loss of a dream, a relationship, a career, an innocence, an intimacy so desired.
To sit in Shiva doesn’t have to be about loss at all. It’s about listening for the dirt gathered under the toenails of living in an outcast world.
I’m never going to trust my heart to you because …
How would you answer that question? Why do you find trust difficult?
You’re not alone, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) holds a part of themselves within themselves where no one can see.
One of my favorite writers about inclusion is Miroslav Volv, who I think captures the spirit of Shiva in this passage.
‘An embrace involves always a double movement of opening and closing. I open my arms to create space in myself for the other.
The open arms are a sign of discontent at being myself only and of desire to include the other.
They are an invitation to the others to come in and feel at home with me, to belong to me.
In an embrace I also close my arms around the others – not tightly, so as to crush and assimilate them forcefully into myself, for that would not be an embrace but a concealed power-act of exclusion; but gently, so as to tell them that I do not want to be without them in their otherness.
I want them in their openness.
I want them to remain independent and true to their genuine selves, to maintain their identity and as such become part of me so that they can enrich me with what they have and I do not’. Judith M Gundry-Volf, Miroslav Volf. A spacious heart: essays on identity and belonging. (Trinity Press International, 1997, 58-59.)
How to find someone to trust
In grounded reality, you are probably not going to find someone perfect in trust. The best-case scenario is that you’re going to find a flawed image bearer that is honest with their trust issues.
Maybe as you become a Shiva trust bearer, you will find someone who can be that to you.
The one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. Galatians 6:7 The Message
I have found that when I sow tomatoes, I reap tomatoes. As I grow in my ability to be trustworthy to others, I find others who I sense that I can trust.
Trust is fragile at the best of times, so we are wisely careful with the gift.
Quotes to consider
- The most powerful thing we can do to help someone change is to offer them a rich taste of God’s incredible goodness. Larry Crabb
- Learn to respond to others with honest, open questions instead of counsel or corrections. With such questions, we help “hear each other into deeper speech. Parker J. Palmer.
- Handicapped people have a special gift to bring you closer to the heart of God. Their poverty reveals the heart. They teach me that human beings distinguish themselves from the rest of creation not so much by the mind as by the heart. The ability to give and receive love is what makes us human. Henri Nouwen – Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life
- Only love can soften a hard heart. Only love can renew trust after it has been shattered. Only love can inspire acts of genuine self-sacrifice. Only love can free us from the tyrannizing effects of fear. David G. Benner
- God is no stranger to the process of repairing damaged relationships. His trust has been broken many times by those he loves. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud
Questions to answer
- What makes a person trustworthy?
- What rebuilds trust after it has been broken?
- Answer the question, ‘I’m never going to trust my heart to you because …’
Image cc: JJ Jordan