Saturday, July 19, 2014
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ― Ernest Hemingway
I did something yesterday I have never done before. I hired a new worker for inside the house without ever seeing her, talking to her, or even knowing her name. Shaban and Neema, both of whom I trust implicitly, both recommended her highly and know her family. She is 32 years old, has no husband, two small children, and lives with her father, who is an AIC pastor. AIC stands for African Inland Church, one of the oldest denominations in East Africa. She has been working here for a month or two helping Neema prepare the lunches for the morning little children and for the afternoon English class. She begins work on Monday morning when I will meet her for the first time. If I didn’t trust Shaban and Neema, I would never have done this, but if you trust someone—you trust them, it’s that simple. Of course, I have been betrayed and hurt by many people I have trusted, but that doesn’t mean I stop trusting others. When I am hurt or betrayed, I always forgive the one who hurt me, but I never trust them again. Once you discover that what you thought was a teddy bear turns out to be a rattlesnake, you are very foolish if you continue to treat the rattlesnake as a teddy bear. You don’t have to hate the rattlesnake, but you do have to respect its habits and danger. Christ loved us, trusted us (even Judas) and was willing to suffer and die for us, knowing how fickle we can be. He commanded us to love each other and even to love our enemies. When our hearts are broken and we are hurt by people we have trusted, we can become insular, resentful, and never love or trust again. That way, we won’t ever be hurt again, but we will never know true peace or joy either. Hanging on the cross in indescribable pain, Christ asked God to forgive those who had hurt Him, saying “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” How can we do less? Not to trust, not to love leaves us bitter, alone, and friendless. I have known other missionaries whose trust was broken and refused to trust anyone after that which is very, very sad, and not at all how Christ calls us to live in His imitation. I have learned to protect myself from the rattlesnakes in my midst, but there are still teddy bears that are soft and cuddly and will remains so. Never try to hug a rattlesnake (it annoys them), but to never hug a teddy bear again is just silly. Christ told us in no uncertain terms that if we can’t forgive then God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15). It may turn out that I can’t trust this new worker, but she will have to show me that my trust is misplaced. I refuse to not trust her because other workers have betrayed me. Living like this, is, well, living. Living in fear of being hurt, not trusting anyone, refusing to allow others into your life—well, I don’t know what to call that, but it certainly isn’t living. It’s merely existing, and it’s a bitter and cold existence. Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote in his poem “In Memoriam” that “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” He was right. If after the way we treated Jesus, He still loved us, suffered for us, died for us, and rose again to give us eternal life, how can we not mirror His love? Of course, people will hurt you for they are human as are you. Nelson Mandela said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” I pray that you are not hurt or betrayed often, but I also pray that you will continue rise every time you fall and to love and to trust, for in doing so, you show Christ to the world.