Two of the most dangerous words in the English language when put together.
Hearts have been broken, lives destroyed, families ripped apart, wounds created that would never heal because someone said those words,then didn’t protect the heart of the person who did the trusting. Betrayed people then drag the baggage into the next relationship and the cycle repeats…only now it’s worse. Now those hurting people are determined not to feel that pain of betrayal again so they live with suspicion. Suspicion takes a toll on the new relationship and before long, there’s another wound to add to the collection…Rinse. Repeat.
In Fall 2014, I staggered my way out of an excruciatingly painful relationship. The damage was extensive. Trust had been eroded for months, one discovery of betrayal after another. I’d grieve the loss, try to pull myself together to move past it in an effort to salvage the relationship, then discover something else and fall apart again. It felt like a free fall down into a pit frantically grabbing at the walls trying to stop the fall, only to end up at rock bottom with nothing but bloody fingers to show for my efforts.
When I say rock bottom, I really mean it. It was the latest in a long list of painful disappointments and struggles and I saw no way out of the place I was in. Bad had gone to worse and then when I thought it couldn’t get any worse than that…it did. So. Much. Worse.
The woman I was died in 2014.
People don’t crumble in a day.
It was a million little things that had killed me.
I’m sure the people who hurt me didn’t make the decisions they did intending to destroy me. But that’s how it works, isn’t it? We make decisions without considering the long-term consequences on the people who have trusted us with their hearts.
It doesn’t seem like a big deal at the time. We rationalize it. It’s just porn. It’s just a text from an ex. It’s “only online” not “real life.” It’s “just for fun.” It’s just a moment of weakness. It’s just one too many drinks, that, in turn, leads to comments that you will never be able to take back. Comments that will forever play in the heads of those you hurled them at in your drunken fury. Just one poor choice. Little things. Things they never deserved but will spend the rest of their lives trying to recover from. Because it’s never just ONE thing.
A rain drop is so small and insignificant, until it’s many raindrops and suddenly you’re drowning in the floodwaters and wondering how things got so bad so fast.
As much as I wanted to just stop breathing, I had children who needed me. I couldn’t quit, no matter how much I wanted to. I had to figure out how to survive.
Turns out, rock bottom is a pretty good place to start rebuilding your life.
Four years later, I have learned a few things, but one sticks out that I wish so much I would have realized sooner.
I had to stop trusting people.
Hear me out.
Everyone in your life will let you down. Everyone. No matter how much they love you, no matter how good their intentions, no matter how great their character. We are all human. We all screw up. And we will all hurt those we love at some point. Every. Last. One of us.
Expecting people to never let us down is setting ourselves up for heartache.
So, does that mean we’re doomed to this life of pain, betrayal and despair? Absolutely not.
Here’s what I realized when I hit bottom…God was still there. At the absolute end of everything. In the suffocating darkness. In the blinding pain. On the bathroom floor in a puddle of tears and vodka. God was still there.
He never left my side. I didn’t feel Him. I didn’t see Him. I didn’t hear Him. But as I look back on those days, there’s no question He placed my foot on each step when I couldn’t see the way forward. He held me when I couldn’t lift my head. He gave me the strength to keep breathing when I couldn’t remember where I was or what I was doing or how to dress myself. He placed a book in my hands with words I needed. He placed a song on the radio at just the right time. He used the most unlikely of circumstances to make my path cross with someone who would change my life, my heart and my last name. He made sure I had what I needed even when I didn’t realize what I needed.
He was trustworthy.
He IS trustworthy.
No matter my circumstances. No matter the storm. No matter the struggle. No matter the hurt.
If He was with me then, when I didn’t even want Him there…if He loved me through that…if He guided my steps even when I was fighting with Him…there will never be a day that He will leave me.
And if He will never leave me, I will always be OK.
No matter who lets me down. No matter what promise is broken. No matter who leaves. No matter the disappointment or loss.
A healthy life and healthy relationships are not a result of somehow learning to trust the people around you, but in realizing where your trust truly belongs. When you know you’ll be OK no matter how others behave,you are free to love with abandon.
I’m not saying you should stay in a relationship with someone who is disloyal. You shouldn’t.
But, you shouldn’t spend your life trying to avoid getting hurt or trying to find someone who won’t ever let you down. You don’t have to always wonder how you’ll make it if someone doesn’t keep their end of the deal.
You’ll make it. Either way. If they keep their word and you keep yours, you’ll reap the benefits of a happy, healthy relationship. If they don’t, you’re still going to make it. You’ll either make it through the struggle of repairing the relationship or you’ll make it through leaving and rebuilding. And the most amazing thing is this…
You’re going to be better regardless. You’re going to grow. You’re going to learn. You’re going to have life experiences you can use to share with others who are struggling. When you put your trust in the only Person who won’t break it, you’ll become a better person in every way.
So, stop trusting in people to save you. It’s a surefire way to live life disappointed.