As I write this, I’m sitting on the sofa of our friends on a Sunday afternoon…friends who were kind enough to give us a warm place to crash after an ice storm knocked out power for thousands in North Carolina, including us, on the preceding Friday afternoon with a restoration estimate of sometime on Monday (and I thought winters in New England were difficult to navigate).
Good friends are a God-send. We are blessed to have them in our lives.
During this weekend outage, we also joined forces with a neighbor who was in the same predicament as we were. That neighbor, in true Southern hospitality fashion, had proactively introduced himself to us when we moved into our neighborhood, something that was helpful to us as reserved New Englanders. During our brief time living here, this couple has helped us with a few things, and we them. I trusted them by the time this incident occurred.
Karen and I approach others in very different ways. Karen begins with the assumption that someone is trustworthy…I begin with the opposite. I’m the guy who won’t ask someone to watch my bags at the airport gate for a moment while I step away…I pack them all up again and take them with me. I lock the car when I’m away from it for two minutes. I assume that someone cannot be trusted until they’ve proven otherwise. I call this prudent…others (Karen) call it paranoid.
In any case, an interesting disparity struck me in this particular situation. I trusted our neighbors because they have, in my mind, proven themselves trustworthy. When I meet new friends, I believe that opportunities for someone to prove themselves trustworthy occur naturally. This is true of neighbors, co-workers, fellow members of the same faith community. I expect no one to trust me unless I’ve proven myself trustworthy to them. And, yes, there have been multiple times when the questionable theology of this opinion has been brought to my attention. I’m working on it.
The friends with whom we are staying as write this, however, present an interesting exception to this rule of mine. They were Karen’s friends long before Karen and I ever met. I met them through her, on our wedding day. My trust for them wasn’t earned…it didn’t have to be. This is an inherited trust. My wife trusts them completely, and thus so do I.
This is true with many of my wife’s friends, but with many of my friends’ friends, as well, which causes me to suspect that my “trust when proven trustworthy” position on others is perhaps not as universal as I might think. I’m not certain that this is a bad thing.
Trust is a beautiful event. Karen contends, as L’Engle contended, that trust can only be achieved when one is given the opportunity to prove themselves trustworthy. I have a long way to go…longer, likely, than I care to admit.
I’m so very, very thankful for friends in whom I can trust.