Do you remember the first time you heard you had an enemy? You were cautioned to be on guard for your adversary prowls ready to devour truth. When we are tempted by lies and driven toward wrong we are taught to raise arms against the devil.
Perhaps that’s why I didn’t see this attack coming. There wasn’t any warning. No alarm bells rang. The pursuit didn’t involve pitchforks and fire.
I was looking over my shoulder for the devil, but I was wounded by friendly fire.
When hurt radiates from the place your heart has been anchored, you find yourself in the middle of the sea on a sinking ship. One moment your foundation is sure and the next you’re clamoring for the life raft questioning if the hand reaching out wants to draw you to safety or shove you under.
Trust takes a beating when your safe place feels like enemy territory.
Confusion quickly replaces logic. Your heart longs for understanding, but the facts that stretch out before you only prove to deepen and widen your wounds.
So how do you learn to trust again?
I’ve asked the Lord that question a lot over the past year. Yes, it’s taken that long. With infinite wisdom and tender grace, God has traveled the road before me to bring perspective and offer healing. If what I’ve endured brings any measure of comfort to my sojourners, I offer these nuggets of wisdom to you:
1. You may never understand.
“Do you know what I want? I want justice – oceans of it. I want fairness – rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.” Amos 5:24 MSG
We serve a God who is right and true and good. So when our hearts are fixed on Him we long for those same distinct patterns. When our hurt stems from people or places who we believe pursue that same righteousness, it can be hard to reconcile the wrong. But, justice and fairness isn’t in our hands – or our grip on our [perceived] enemies would tighten. God does not owe us explanations and often it is with great grace that He conceals His purposes. Knowledge is not likely to heal your wounds, but God can.
God’s purpose is not to inform us, but rather transform us. Nothing will satisfy the quest for justice except surrendering it (or them) to a just God.
2. Choose council wisely.
“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free…what can mere people do to me?” Psalm 118:5-6 NLT
While you are working on trust, pursue wisdom. God and His word are the first and foremost source – He hears our cries. But often our cry is for trusted companions to come alongside us. Our tendency, especially after friendly fire, is to assume that everyone has an ulterior motive. It’s okay to be guarded, but walls are meant to keep people out and you don’t need to travel this journey alone. In your tender and vulnerable state, choose people who will direct you toward God, not draw you further away.
You will know them by their spirit of grace and love that exceeds your pain – they will provide a safe haven and a healing balm for your wounds.
3. Point your voice in the right direction.
“The heart cry of justice is a longing to be heard.” Chris Jackson
When our pain is unexpected and comes from once trusted sources, we often can’t resolve it in our own minds. Our longing to be accepted and understood has been damaged. So it’s only natural for us to want others to validate our feelings. However, when our desire is to honor God, we must be cautious to not further damage His Kingdom. Our goal should be to spare others, not cause them to stumble over, our pain.
4. This journey won’t be easy.
“You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” Hebrews 10:34 ESV
You might feel like you’ve been stripped of all value and worth, but you’re treasure is to come.
There is far-reaching fruit that blossoms from the seeds of pain. God plants those seeds one at time and growth does not happen overnight; neither does healing. In the same way that you need to be surrounded by grace, you need to extend it to yourself. Don’t strive for every inch of growth, but simply lean into the process. Stop focusing on the pain and instead watch God. He is weaving good out of bad – there will be beauty from the ashes.
5. They are sinners, just like me.
“Whatever is written in these scriptures is not what God says about others, but to us…it’s clear enough isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us.” Romans 3:19 MSG
This step can be the most arduous to travel. We aren’t any better than the ones who brought our pain. We are all dealt the blow of flesh; we are all sinners. Intentional or not, their sins aren’t any different from ours.
What sets us apart is our response to our offenses. Will we humble ourselves before God?
While God tells us to lavish forgiveness as generously as it has been given to us, He doesn’t place a time-table on that process. But, don’t grow stagnant in this phase of your journey. Don’t linger in bitterness and anger, but allow God to move you toward healing, restoration even. You may never forget. There will be scars (healed wounds) of this battle etched across your life, but forgiveness will set you free to live life fully. And as you do, allow those markers to remind you to never leave those scars on the life of another.
My intent isn’t to over-simplify or minimize this journey back to trust. I’ve siphoned down to five what feels like five-million uphill steps. I am still learning to trust and traveling with the Lord at the gracious pace and timing He has chosen for me. He’ll do the same for you.
But this I know to be true: when confusion and chaos seem to reign, when you aren’t sure who is true and good, when the hurt feels deep and healing feels far off…TRUST GOD. Follow hard after Him and someday you won’t have to question the pain or the long-enduring journey, you’ll get to see why.
“You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.” Job 11:16 NIV
Photo Credit (text overlay by Tiffany Parry)