Trust Is Terrifying

We hate not knowing. We hate being wrong. We hate uncertainty.

Fortunately, our technology gives us a level of control over our lives no other humans have had in history. We can control our schedules down to the minute. We can control the food that goes into our bodies–where it comes from, how it’s stored, how it’s prepared, what goes on it, what time we eat it and how much. We can control the temperature of the air around us. We can control where we go, and when, and how, and usually what time we reach our destination. We can even control what messages go into our heads–who we interact with, what media we consume, what messages we are exposed to.

About the only aspects of our lives we still can’t control are traffic, weather, and the seven billion people we share our planet with. And we’re working hard to get control of those.

We’ll probably figure out traffic eventually. We may get a handle on weather one day. But the people will always be the wildcard in our lives.

Which is hard, because our culture demands control. Those of us who don’t control every detail of our lives, who arrive late to appointments, who get distracted working on one project to the exclusion of others, are often considered unreliable. Flaky. Inconsiderate. Untrustworthy.

And there’s some truth to that. When life is so tightly controlled, one person can throw off dozens by arriving late to a meeting or completing a project late.

That’s why trust is so hard. That’s why we work so hard to make sure anybody we need something from has everything they need to provide us everything we need, right when we need it. We can’t control their work–but we can control what goes into it. We can work around trust by removing as many uncertainties as we possibly can.

But how do we do that when what’s at stake is more important than a spreadsheet or a report or a car that runs? How do we control the inputs when what we need is friendship? How do we remove uncertainty when we’re choosing whether or not to love someone? How do we secure an outcome when what our heart wants is to see its own reflection?

When people’s work can be controlled, but their hearts can’t, why would we ever choose the heart?

Most of us don’t have the answer to that one. All we know is that we are irresistibly drawn to each other, to the fascinating, infuriating, terrifying unknown inside each of us, the unknown that just might complement the unknown within ourselves in just the right way.

And we can’t know what kind of unknown waits there until we open ourselves to it. We can’t know what’s in that dark room until we walk in and switch on the light, revealing it to us and us to it at the same instant.

Pain is inevitable. In some of those dark rooms, we will find monsters waiting to hurt us.

But angels wait in others, angels with joy and love to spare and to share. Angels who amplify our own brightness and reflect it back to us a hundredfold, making us stronger even as they draw strength from us.

We can’t find the angels without risking the monsters. We can’t experience the joy without exposing ourselves to the pain.

That’s what makes trust so terrifying, and so rewarding. That’s what makes trusting such an act of courage.

I choose to trust. I have been wrong in the past, will certainly be wrong in the future. But I’ve been right, too, and I will be right again. I choose to seek joy and love and angels.

What choice will you make?

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.