When I was a teacher, one of my first jobs was a part-time teaching position funded from both state and federal grant monies. The program was designed to keep 9th graders from dropping out of high school by giving them a good reason to stay. I taught 19 hand-picked at-risk students for a three-hour block. Language Arts, Social Studies and Career Development. I scheduled professionals to come to inspire the kids on a weekly basis and I researched many a field trip. One of the best was a ropes course.
Up to the Cascade Mountains we went, most of the kids were either shut up within themselves or bickering with each other. It was a transforming day because most of them didn’t trust anyone and yet the course was designed to build trust within a team. It was incredible to watch them test the waters of trust that day. I’m not naïve enough to think it changed patterns of behavior developed over 14 years of life. No, but it gave them a glimpse of an alternative path. That was my job the entire year, to inspire them to believe that they could be more than they ever thought possible. I remember most of them by face and some of them by name. I’m not in touch with any of them but sometimes I wonder what happened to Corbin, Richard, Chantelle…
When I was a kid we didn’t have elaborate ropes courses to attend but we did line up and were told to fall backwards and trust the other person to catch us. I remember it being funny but somewhat unnerving. If their arms weren’t there, you would go splat, and it would hurt. Lucky for me that didn’t happen, but if it did, I probably would never have done that again.
You get burned and learn not to put your finger in the fire. If someone breaks the trust you’ve placed in them, it’s not good enough to say, “Oops, I’m sorry, I will never do that again.” It’s almost a comedy routine if you dust the dirt off, stand up, fall back, and drop again and again. You are trusting each time you fall. The other person may be trying but they are failing and you have the bruises to prove it.
Believing in someone else is harder than believing in yourself. A guy says, “One more time, I promise I won’t let you fall again!” and wants one more chance. But after a while, after a few times getting dropped, you need a break and are not in the mood to try again.
No more trying for a while. They need to go practice and come back when they’ve got it down. THEN and only after lots of time and practice will it ever be possible to try again.
Why don’t guys who screw up get that? Bruises need to heal and just because you say I’m sorry doesn’t mean everything is “all better”. Not that forgiveness isn’t possible. It just takes time and patience.
I’ve been contacted by a few women who are where I was three years ago. Struggling to save a marriage after the betrayal of their husband. It breaks my heart to read their stories. I pray for them that their story ends differently than mine. Many ask why my marriage in the end failed. And I tell them all the same thing. He quit…no matter what I did…his mind was made up and eventually I had to accept that reality.
When I was young I was a gymnast. I got pretty good, pretty fast and before I knew it coaches were trying to recruit me for serious gymnastics. I was 7 and I was learning a move on the uneven bars that involved swinging from the top bar, catching the lower bar and flipping yourself up onto the top of the lower bar. At least that’s how I remember it. I tried and tried and messed up so many times. But it was one of those things. I couldn’t stop trying until I did it. And many women do the same trying to save their marriage.
But that is not trust. That is determination. Within yourself you can determine to do lots of things. Trust is when someone else is willing too. And relationships take two…always. No one can determine to fix things on their own. And all of us have a point when even within ourselves we know it is time to stop.
One day I got up onto the top of my swing set in my backward to do a move I’d done dozens of times. Perched up on the bar that was meant to hang a swing about two feet above the crossbars I sat. Fell backwards hooking the back of my knees to the bar flipping around the bottom up to the front with my arms spread wide like a good gymnast. Problem was the crossbars were also where my left arm was swinging. And as I came up to fly into the greatest most tremendous dismount anyone in my backward had ever seen. The crossbars smacked my arm in mid-air and sent me face-planting into the ground in a sudden and tremendous thud.
And that my friends, was the end of my gymnastics career. I broke my arm and lost my confidence. Sometimes I wish that hadn’t happened. I wonder what experiences I would have had. But I let it go. We can’t all do everything we set out to do. Sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes things have to end. We move on and try other things. Maybe if after I was over the trauma of my incident I had been approached by a coach and asked to try again I would have. But certainly not right away. I needed time to heal.
I’ve been looking back a lot the past few days. I’m facing changes in the payments for my child support and its triggering memories of past injuries from my ex. Time has helped to heal me but if I let myself remember, I can be back in the middle of the pain fairly quick.
What if I hadn’t figured out how to get the divorce papers filed? Would I still be legally married today? Would I be better off? What if I hadn’t emailed Martin and became friends that fell in love? What if I had cut him off after the first lie instead of going through the roller coaster hell? What if I had….I could go on forever couldn’t I?
For me, the ultimate trust I must never lose is the trust I have in God who is outside space and time, is omniscient, and omnipresent. He knows me and he knows what will become of me no matter what “if” I did or didn’t take. I have to trust that He will use all of it for my good. Even the heartaches and betrayals.
Each step along the way I had to trust that God knew more than me. So active trust was me doing the right thing…the thing I knew He wanted me to do. In every situation I had to make some hard choices but I can say looking back, I really did trust God with my life. I kept trying and trusting until it was obscenely apparent that it was time to move on. I made some mistakes, but mostly, I treated the other person with dignity and showed love despite the hurt. It wasn’t easy, but at least I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of myself.
Doing the right thing did not shield me from hurt. God never promises that. What he promises is that he will never leave you or forsake you and if you trust Him and purpose yourself to obey Him and glorify Him in word and deed, you will see – someday – that all of it will work together for your good. You will be closer to God which brings an inner peace unlike anything the world can offer.
Bad things happen. But keep trusting the One who is worthy of that trust.
I’m still here. I have my needs met. And I have a new and precious soul in my life who I love deeply. It is possible. Who knows what the next year will bring? I don’t pretend to know. It could be wonderful and amazing. I sure hope so. But whatever it is. I have to keep check of each step I take; to with the best of my ability; honor God with my life.