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Brokenness and Trust

Have you ever felt as though you are more messed up inside than other people?   The truth is, we’re all messed up. All of us are broken in ways that we want to hide. Recently, hanging out with some friends, I had a fresh reminder of my own brokenness. The next morning, I debriefed it with …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Have you ever felt as though you are more messed up inside than other people?
The truth is, we’re all messed up. All of us are broken in ways that we want to hide. Recently, hanging out with some friends, I had a fresh reminder of my own brokenness. The next morning, I debriefed it with Karen and I told her, “I wish I had handled that differently.”
I have these kinds of debriefs because I don’t want to ever deny my brokenness. If I’m to grow, I have to embrace it.
We want to hide from the pain of failure and poor decision-making. Life as you’ve lived it doesn’t work there. It’s a place of pain, a place of tearing down, of deconstruction.
We need to recognize our own dysfunction and inadequacy. The irony is that, no matter how far we travel to escape it, inevitably we find the brokenness within us. Try as we might to hide from them or ignore them, we carry our flaws with us.
We are broken

Henri Nouwen says it well, “We live with broken bodies, broken hearts, broken minds or broken spirits. We suffer from broken relationships. How can we live our brokenness? Jesus invites us to embrace our brokenness as he embraced the cross and live it as part of our mission. He asks us not to reject our brokenness as a curse from God that reminds us of our sinfulness but to accept it and put it under God’s blessing for our purification and sanctification. Thus our brokenness can become a gateway to new life.”
The question is, can you trust anyone to help you work through your brokenness? Many of us would rather not trust people we don’t know well. And some people never have learned how to trust in the first place.
I had a friend who loved a girl. She got so tired of waiting year after year for him to pull the trigger that she eventually married another guy. I don’t know if he ever got over that. Trusting again has been hard.
Who knows why any given person ends up that way. But everyone has been burned. It’s normal to have your trust broken. Some move on and some keep looking over their shoulder. The scenes of what happened to hurt them keep playing in their minds. The place of low trust comes to define them.
They come to a conclusion and make a decision. They think: “Trusting was hard and I got burned. The only way to avoid that kind of pain is to not trust again, so I’m not going to any more.” 
Jesus trusted
Jesus began his ministry with a discourse on taking the opposite tack. “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” His point was to let God sort out the issues of justice and to not be so concerned with broken trust. If you really look at the sermon on the mount, Jesus said some crazy, hard-to-swallow stuff. 
I don’t know where you come from, but I’ve taken those situations where I got burned and tried to do what doesn’t come naturally. When I’ve been betrayed, I’ve sought to forgive the person right away. When a big risk blows up in my face, I regroup and find a way to risk again.
The best things in my life have required buckets of trust. My marriage, my friendships, my ministry, my faith. And yes, I’ve been burned. But I’ve also seen miracles! Trusting God when it doesn’t make sense seems to delight him. I have fallen so many times, but I’ve also lived a life filled with adventures. It’s been worth it.
How do you do at trusting people? What kind of place do you come from? We all have reasons not to trust, but life is happier when we leave them behind.
If you want to grow in your ability to trust, why not take a small step today? Find someone who has wounded you, someone who has revealed your brokenness, and do something nice for them. Reach out to them and see if your capacity to trust doesn’t grow.
Keep doing that and over time, your life will change. It’s the one sure way to navigate through brokenness.

Comments (12)

  • Seth this is timely and insightful. Thank you. Rumi once wrote “It is through our wounds the light shines” and frankly the closest relationships I have aren’t tidy but are predictable in their ragamuffin ways. I’ll confess that people without acknowledged limps in their lives are very hard for me to trust. There have been far too many efforts towards mutually exchanged disclosure only to have the “Johari Window” slammed down again on gnarled fingers of sadness. But we keep the trajectory forward. There are no other good options. Prayers for you and AIM team. The sum of the efforts really wounds the Evil One which is….good. Pax.

    • Butch, Life has dealt you a high stakes hand. Let’s work on pushing the limits this year. You have always beat the odds my friend. I believe in you.

  • I was sitting in my local hairdressers a few months back when I noticed a very old lady sitting near the back of the room quietly. 10 minutes later her husband came in, put his hand out, she put her hand in his to be guided out the shop as he spoke to the hairdressers thanking them. I could tell from the conversation, and the lady’s lack of response, that she was obviously suffering from some kind of mental illness or she had learning difficulties. The next thing that hit me, and I questioned the Lord ” wow! why did she take her husbands hand and trust he would look after her when she obviously was not completely understanding where she was or who people were? What a display of trust in such a vulnerable state!” . The Lord then started to show me that trusting someone is like building blocks, one step at a time. But its working towards building it rather than presuming no one is trust worthy. Above all we must guard our heart, no one is perfect, everyone has an ability to really hurt us BUT I had to ask myself ” am I using building blocks in any relationship have to build trust or have I piled my bricks up in a cupboard refusing to use them because no one is trust worthy?” The Lord then gave me 1 Corinths 13 ” Love ALWAYS trusts”, so if I claim to love someone (including God) then I must also trust them. That trust comes in many “bricks” , ” I can trust what they say because they dont lie to me” , ” I can trust their instinct and wisdom”. Breaking down what trust really is has helped me to get my “bricks” out the cupboard and start giving people a chance. And if I give them a “brick” too far and they prove me wrong and hurt me, then only that one ” brick” is removed, I dont go knocking the whole wall down! We are all broken. We need to love others as they are and know that middle ground where we are trusting but also protecting our own heart. I hope my ramblings are useful to others. Thanks Seth for sharing.

    • Love always trusts. Well said. The sermon on the mount is all about trusting when it doesn’t make sense. Thanks, Nicki.

  • Thank you Judith for sharing your view on this, it gives me hope! People let you down but trust doesnt…..that is something I really need to dwell on.I think even when we have been hurt, I know my own wounds come from my mother putting me in a home when I was born and then my adoptive family later disowned me, so theres been ALOT of betrayal, rejection from those closest too me. But I know the Lord is giving me things to renew my mind with, and thats another gem I will focus on. “trust wont let me down” awesome!

  • A good read Seth. And Judith ads a nice part too. I too have been gifted with high trust (and occasionally burned). Even a trustworthy person is still human and can make a mistake (I also forgive ‘too easily’ some times). Now i just need to move through brokenness.

  • thanku for your prayers Judith, and it is true, God is working together for our good…..certainly not for our harm.He loves us, He wants to restore us, heal us, set us free. It is a process but with each step we learn more of His goodness and more of our own potential. I dont think we could cope if we woke up one morning and God had fully restored us over night of all the damage done to us.I dont think our minds could cope with it.

  • I am a trusting person; distrust takes effort for me. I realize that is the opposite problem of many people. From my vantage point, which may seem strange to others, I will offer one insight I’ve gained: Trusting others has never let me down. Others have let me down. Of course. Others have betrayed my trust and hurt me. But Trust has never let me down. I don’t know quite how to explain it except to say that even when betrayal and hurt results from the trust I’ve placed in others, I feel like I have emerged intact and what is important to me remains: my trust in people and myself. It is such a great gift in life to trust; I am grateful no one has truly been able to take that away from me. Some will break my trust. And betray it. But so many more will return it and that’s what I count on every time. Blessings, Seth.

  • You are welcome, Nicki. Life hands some of us much pain and brokenness. I am sorry for the deep betrayal and rejection you experienced early in life. But, you bring out a truth we can count on: The Lord is working continually on our behalf to help us overcome and renew our minds in Him. It is a process and a valiant struggle for many. I too want to think more about this principle of trust and just how it has remained viable and intact in my life…so that I can help others to perhaps recover theirs. I will pray for you, Niki. Blessings…..

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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