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Why You Probably Shouldn’t Trust People Until They Have Earned Your Trust

Why You Probably Shouldn't Trust People Until They Have Earned Your Trust

In the early days, when women subscribed to this blog, I would send them an email that asked this question:

What is your biggest frustration RIGHT NOW in your most important relationship?

Why You Probably Shouldn't Trust People Until They Have Earned Your Trust

Do you know what I’m hearing over and over again? Let me give you a sampling of just a few responses:

“My biggest frustration is the lack of open honest communication…and being able to trust.

“I think trust is my biggest problem. I don’t trust anyone especially a man.”

“My greatest frustration(s) is the integrity and being able to trust anyone…”

And several more women didn’t use the word, “trust,” but they told me stories of broken trust through chronic lying and cheating.

But is the lack of trust a problem? Or is that just part of waking up to reality? The fact is, we can’t really put our trust in anyone. Even the best people will fail us.

Why You Probably Shouldn’t Trust People Until They Have Earned Your Trust

Did you know Jesus had trust issues? Here’s what John wrote:

Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.  John 2:23-25

Does that sound like Jesus considered it a problem? Does that sound like not trusting people is a bad thing? Jesus is God, and if He didn’t trust people, should we?

Jesus didn’t trust people, but He DID trust His Father.

I think the biggest problem some of us have isn’t that we can’t trust people anymore. Our REAL trust problem is twofold:

  1. We trusted people in the first place.
  2. We don’t trust the only One we CAN trust! Our Creator!

I trusted people more than God. I actually put people who were in spiritual authority in the place of God!  I was taught that God would speak through them, so I trusted that what they told me was from God.

Wow, was that a big hairy mistake.

“Spiritual” human beings betrayed my trust, and I was flummoxed and bewildered. Weren’t those folks stand-ins for God? Speaking on God’s behalf?

So then, was it God who betrayed my trust? My faith was rattled as I tried to sort through the confusion of what I had always believed.

God had to strip all of that away until He was all I had left. And then He told me to look at Him and listen only to Him. Obey only Him.

I whined, “WHAT?! Everyone is going to HATE me!”

He said, “I love you. That’s enough.”

I cried, “I don’t want to be rejected!”

He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

I bawled, “They’ll tell lies about me, and I’ll lose everything!”

He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Don’t be afraid, for I am with You. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

And I finally rested my head on His shoulder and surrendered.

I did lose everything. My marriage, my financial security, my reputation, my church, and many of my friends.

I lost everything I once had, but I gained some new and priceless treasures I didn’t have before.

  • Strengthened faith in Christ
  • A deeper and richer resting in the cross and His grace
  • Freedom from guilt and anxiety
  • New (healthy!) friends
  • New understanding of Scripture that has set me free in so many ways
  • Joy and excitement in seeing some of the confusing parts of my theology scrapped for a clearer and more consistent theology
  • Greater compassion for women in abusive marriages
  • Greater empathy for my children
  • Better and more constructive ways of dealing with my children’s sin
  • Awareness of human dysfunction that makes me wiser and more careful
  • Freedom from the icky judgmental attitude I once had toward those who didn’t share my convictions

And that’s just scratching the surface. Although there was a time I couldn’t say this, NOW I wouldn’t trade this journey for an easier one. Not in a million years.

Why You Probably Shouldn't Trust People Until They Have Earned Your Trust

But I don’t trust people anymore, and I don’t consider that a problem. I consider that a lesson learned. An asset to my spiritual and emotional health.

That doesn’t mean we don’t love people or make a place for vulnerability and sharing. It just means our inner circle is very, very small, and nobody makes it in there unless they’ve earned the right to be there over time.

God is always in that special circle of safety.

The cry of your heart is that you can trust someone with yourself. The real you. The deepest parts of you. That you can trust that person to always love, always protect, always cherish, always respect, always be truthful.

And you can’t. And that hurts. It’s part of the grieving process, to face that fact, process it, and work through it.

The solution is to give it up. Especially if your partner is destructive. I know we want to believe the best about them. It hurts to think they really don’t know us or give a crap about us. And when they throw us a bone, we take it gratefully and hope for a pat on the back along with it. We’ll take what we can get, but then we feel used and degraded.

Time to let go.

Did you see the movie, The Last of the Mohicans? There’s a scene where one of the female characters is being chased by an Indian warrior, and she comes to the edge of a cliff. She turns to face the warrior, and he thinks he has her trapped and that she’ll finally belong to him.

But she solemnly stares at his slightly grinning, triumphant face while slowly taking one little step backward off the edge, plummeting to her death.

She won.

I imagined jumping off a cliff when I let go of my marriage and my life as I knew it. I had no idea if I would plummet to my death or if God would catch me. But it just got to that place where I had no choice. It was surrender to the Indian warrior or surrender to God. I chose God.

He caught me.

And He will catch you, because He is nothing like your abusive partner or their minions.

Flying Free Sisterhood

An online coaching, education, and support community for women of faith in destructive relationships.

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The Comments

  • Avatar
    Jean P.
    May 5, 2021

    I am reading this 4 years after you wrote it and if I were as eloquent as you I could have written it. I put a dear friend in God’s place. She wouldn’t let me let go of my destructive marriage. I stayed to please her for an additional 8 years. It was brutal. BUT GOD! He just kept right on loving me, strengthening me and showing me HIS will for my life. I lost the friend. I lost the marriage. And just like you said I gained strength I didn’t even know I could possess. I had underlying anxiety that never went away. I’m realizing that it is gone.(one year post separation and not even close to divorced due to his tactics and procrastination) It is so strange to me that all along my people pleasing, tip-toeing was a problem. It was exactly what my church taught me (or at least that’s what I heard). God is good. Love your ministry. Praying He continues to bless you sister.

  • Avatar
    March 19, 2017

    I read this post earlier this week and parts of it have kept coming to mind since.

    “God had to strip all of that away until He was all I had left. And then He told me to look at Him and listen only to Him. Obey only Him.” and “I did lose everything.”

    I’ve really noticed that stripping away too. The song, “Christ is enough for me” has become very meaningful as I realise that nothing matters but my relationship with Him.

    I seem to have ‘lost’ some of my older children. Lost their relationship. They are angry at me for not reconciling. The abuse is very covert. Only one child saw though, and that one saw it way before I did.

    I’ve written a letter to my church leadership this week. I haven’t heard back. They have seemed supportive as God has opened their eyes to my husband’s real self. But, their position is that divorce is always wrong. I don’t know what the future holds. Reading this post, it jumped out at me that it is possible that ‘my church’ is something I need to be prepared to lose too. Reading your story has encouraged me. If that does happen to me, it will be ok. Because God is still God, and that’s all that matters. And he is a good, good father,

    Thanks for sharing. It reminds me of this quote, “Your heartache is someone else’s hope. If you make it through, somebody else is going to make it though. Tell your story” (by Kim McManus)

    • Natalie Anne
      Natalie Anne
      → Annie-Lee
      March 19, 2017

      I love your testimony. Hang in there. God is going to take care of you even if everyone else falls away. My church abandoned me when I filed for divorce as well, but God has been faithful to me, and He will be faithful to you. The worse the rejection, the more intimate the comfort from Christ. Divorce isn’t the sin that disgusts God, it is the lies and abuse and neglect that disgust Him, and His entire Word is crystal clear on this. Divorce is a mercy that sets victims of domestic abuse free. God, Himself, is a divorcee. The church is grossly deceived by the enemy regarding this issue.

  • Avatar
    February 13, 2017

    Hi Natalie-

    It’s me again- but this is question is for other ladies who have experience..So I know I don’t trust my husband anymore for 12 years I “trusted” he was acting in my best interests even though my gut told me he was mean and abusive but often when I would call him out on it he would say that he was ” doing all of this for my own good”

    I went from being on a pedestal when dating ( I could do nothing wrong) to being devalued right after marriage-( I could do nothing right and was always walking on eggshells)

    I have worked with Leslie and Sharmen from Marriage Recovery Center who both very much expect my husband is a narcissist…the thing that I always get hung up on is that he did not cheat on me..(well, not that I know of) but I really don’t think he would do this..he is too “moral” to do it….but I keep reading that most men like this cheat–

    is this something I am thinking too hard about? do other ladies have husbands who were emotionally abusive and very controlling but never cheated?

    • Natalie Anne
      Natalie Anne
      → OnMyWay
      February 14, 2017

      Mine never cheated. I don’t even think he did porn, although I’m not sure. I never found any evidence that he did. Mine was very “good” in many ways. Kept a very clean record, morally. He was still emotionally, spiritually, and financially abusive and remains that way to this day.

  • Avatar
    February 6, 2017

    I have been reading your blog for at least 5 years I think. I don’t know if the word is proud of you, but I am so joyful for you. I’m so glad that you are in this very intimate relationship with your Savior, Lord and Creator. I know that He is loving you well and from where I sit I can see that you are glowing. <3 <3 <3

    • Natalie Anne
      Natalie Anne
      → tereza
      February 7, 2017

      Oh Tereza, you have seen my journey. Thank you. I am grateful for women like you who are out there letting people walk their painful journey without judgment or criticism. I AM in a different place, and it is a WONDERFUL place! Circumstances are still hard, but God has been faithful to love me through. (((hugs!!))

  • Avatar
    February 5, 2017

    I’ve been divorced for 7 years from my abusive husband. One of my biggest struggles has been trusting men. And so many men don’t seem to understand why dealing with men is so hard for me. The Lord has slowly been helping me peel through the layers of my struggle with men. I get frustrated with being an abuse survivor, but I wouldn’t trade my journey for something different. God has used my experience to grow and change me in many, many ways.

    • Avatar
      → A
      February 5, 2017

      A, distrust is a normal result of the traumatic abuse that you experienced. If these men sincerely care about you they will be patient with you. If not maybe they were abusers that never dealt with it. Healing takes time. God bless you with healing and surround you with loving, kind,people worthy of your trust.

  • Avatar
    LaToya Edwards
    February 4, 2017

    Yes and Amen! It’s scary to take that first step but God is always there to catch us! He is faithful and true.

  • Avatar
    February 3, 2017

    Just a few thoughts. Did you ever divorce? There’s alot of drama going on. God uses people to help people if they are willing. Therefore, when a situation is beyond your expertise and you ask for help your initial response is to trust. Too many people want you to think their way. I’ve found. Great ending to your story but l’ve jumped many times and crashed.

    • Natalie Anne
      Natalie Anne
      → Jeannie
      February 4, 2017

      I am currently in the middle of a divorce, and my church is excommunicating me for that. You’re right, we ask for help, trusting that they WILL help, and then we crash when they don’t. Only when we totally rely on Christ will we find a soft place to land. He doesn’t promise a life of ease, but He promises to help us through it and make us stronger so we can fly one day. It takes time, and the process is long and draining. I will pray for you right now.