Learning to Trust Again
Like most summer storms, this one went as quickly as it came, but unlike most summer thunderstorms, this one left extensive damage. We were lucky though—none of our trees came down and we never lost power. Within hours, the children were home, tucked safely into bed, and seemed generally nonplussed by the whole event. The only thing my six-year-old had to say about it (in his typically understated way) was “It was very windy. I was a little bit scared.” And that was that.
Or so I thought.
Then suddenly that same six-year-old started asking me to check the weather each morning, and that same six-year-old started needing to see the hourly forecast before he went outside to play. Then he started watching the clock and coming in early if the forecast threatened rain. He started jumping at the slightest breeze and one day, with his chin quivering, doing his best to hold back tears, he asked to go home while we were visiting a mountain overlook. He didn’t like the wind. It all came to a head when at a Fourth of July picnic, this same nonchalant little boy clamped his hands over his ears and ran screaming inside when sky turned stormy.
And then I knew we had a problem.
Despite our attempts to console him, despite reasoning with him that mommy and daddy would protect him, despite praying with him and gaining his verbal affirmation that “God is bigger than the storm,” this little boy simply doesn’t trust the weather. And truthfully, I don’t blame him.
When you’ve experienced something traumatic—whether it’s a storm or an illness or a broken relationship—you know better than to let yourself ever get caught in that situation again. You’re smarter for it. You learn to guard your heart. You learn to scan the sky and look for the warning signs. And you consider yourself, not so much living in fear, as having become older and wiser.
Until your caution turns into fear Until your “wisdom” starts to look a lot like paranoia Until you let your experience cloud everything else your life.
Then you know you have a problem.
Because as much as I understand my son’s fear, another part of me worries that as long as he lives in that fear, he’ll never be able to experience the joy of an ocean breeze whipping around him or the majesty of a summer thunderstorm. And as long as any of the rest of us continue to live in our fears—no matter how justified they are—we’ll miss the joy of so many things too. Family, community, church, friends, life. Sometimes even God Himself.
So now I’m trying to figure out how do I help him learn to trust again? How do any of us learn to trust again? How do you learn to feel the breeze without panicking? How do you stand on the mountain overlook, drinking in the winds that carry the hawk and eagle without wanting to go home? How do you face the vast ocean and delight in its mighty winds when at six you were evacuated to the bottom of a baseball stadium and the lights went out?
And maybe more to the point for the rest of us, how do you learn to love again when your heart has been broken? How do you learn to let down your guard when you’ve been hurt? How do you move past being cynical to being sensitive once again? How, like for me, do you learn to stop jumping to conclusions when everything in you wants to run screaming into the building to get away from the storm?
I’m not certain of the exact process, but I know it takes time. Not time by itself, but time for God to work. Time to let Him to rebuild the brokenness. Time to let Him heal you. Time to let Him to lead you one hesitant, terrifying step at a time. Time for you to learn how to trust Him again.
Because maybe, what we all need to recognize is that rebuilding trust doesn't ultimately mean learning to trust the weather or our churches or even another person again. Rebuilding trust means learning to trust Him. It means believing that when the storms do return, He will be right there to wait them out with you. Even if it's in the belly of a minor league baseball stadium.