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Building Trust in Relationships

By Josh Anderson, Oasis Counseling

How do you grow trust in relationships? And when do you know trust is happening?

I’ll share one caveat and then look at a way to build trust.

There are many factors that affect trust in relationships. For instance, look at the dynamics of a marriage or a dating relationship: there are two people, two personalities, two personal and family histories, two genders, two hearts, two ways of thinking and expressing emotions, two sets of assumptions, two relationships with God. There are various interpersonal skills, besetting sins, plans, dreams, and different levels of resolve for how to do life. All of these play a role in how one person trusts another. There are also multiple tools for building trust. For this blog, I’ll share one.

Here it is.

How is trust built? By speaking it. We must articulate it with phrases like: “I trust you,” “I believe you,” “I have confidence in you,” “Thank you for being someone I can depend on.” Think of a time you told someone something so important, so vulnerable and unknown that it was equally as important for you to hear back from them, “You can trust me. I won’t share with others.” This is the giving and receiving of trust.

When you confided in that friend, you were entrusting them with something of yourself. And it’s yourself that you were giving to them. Sometimes it’s a worry, question, or exhaustion. You’re believing they have your good in mind, and because Christ is in and growing them, you’re believing that however they respond, you should listen. This is functional trust at work in a relationship. And somewhere along the line, it is essential to express that faith. It’s the same with God; we have to articulate our trust to him (Psalm 91:1-2). It has to be spoken. It doesn’t go without saying.

Trust is built when we share dark and intense times of life. It’s also built in the low-key moments of monotonous daily life. Like when a dating couple goes out for coffee to connect after a long week of not seeing each other or a married couple shares together about their long day. We begin to build confidence in one another when we go out of our way to articulate that we trust someone, how we trust them, and what we’re entrusting them with. When we speak it, we know it’s happening.

Why is speaking trust so important?

Remember trust itself isn’t physical; it’s metaphysical. Trust is relational and spiritual. It’s relational in that it fundamentally involves believing something about another person, God, or yourself. God created us to be in relationships where trust exists and grows, even in a fallen world (Gen. 1-3; John 1:11-12; 2:24). Trust is also spiritual. We can’t see it, yet it’s very real. Imagine an unseen wind - you see its reality as the breeze blows through the trees. With trust, you can see it when you talk about it. The invisible winds of trust appear.

Would it have been “enough” for Adam to have God create his world without communicating directly to him how to live by faith and obedience (Gen. 1: 29-30; 2:15-25)? Would it have been enough for Israel to have God save them out of Egypt without communicating his trustworthiness and how to live as free people (Ex. 3:7-10; 4:5, 31)? Would it have been enough for God’s people to experience need, threat, deliverance, or elation without expressing their dependence on God in their songs and prayers (Ps. 9:1; 16:1-2; 25:2; 86:1-2)? In each of these cases, the answer is no. In each case, it was necessary for God to articulate to his people how to live by faith in him. For King David and the people of Israel, it was necessaryto express in words their trust and confidence in God in what they experienced.

Speaking our trust to God (or to others) manifests existing trust and builds on that trust with more confidence. It reveals the trustworthiness of one person. It reveals that the other person notices their trustworthiness and gives to that person more trust. Then as it is received, trust is solidified, the bond of love deepens, and the friendship grows stronger. This kind of love doesn’t grow overnight or happen on its own. Instead, by regularly articulating trust in our relationships, love matures.

What are two ways you could convey trust in your relationship(s)?

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