As a parent (and especially as a parent of humans who are (or were) teenagers, the question of trust came up a lot. What I eventually got better at expressing was my trust in my child, but my lack of trust about some situations. My experiences (some of them coming from narrow-misses as a teenager myself) taught me how – despite the best of intentions, the strongest faith in one’s abilities, the most sincere commitment to one’s moral compass, and an iron will – circumstances nevertheless sometimes spin out of control. Out of our control.
As unsatisfying as I know it is to hear, “I trust you, but I don’t trust the situation.” is the closest I can get as a to explaining to a young adult who doesn’t have a child the meaning and emotion behind Elizabeth Stone’s quote, that being a parent is “to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
All of this is by way of saying I’m not sure this rule extends into adulthood. Not for our kids, but ourselves. When it comes to trusting, as an adult, I think there comes a point where we need to trust the circumstances. The situation. The variables outside our control.
To do otherwise – to insist that anything outside ourselves is inherently untrustworthy; that our carefully curated cynicism is justified, validated by years of experience – is to keep our hearts and bodies firmly shuttered in a protective cocoon. This, in turn, severely impedes our growth as souls and as friends to people around us.
Our choice to trust doesn’t mean we can’t be hurt. Nor does it mean our trust might always be well-placed. But if the choice is between trusting and experiencing pain from which I can learn and grow; and withholding trust and stagnating until both I and my heart and my soul whither away, I will accept the possibility of pain.