Sometimes you need other people.
Three summers ago, I realized I had a problem with that.
My family was spending the week in a warm, woodsy, central Oregon resort called Sunriver. My dad brings us there each year for his business meetings–he works while we cycle, play tennis, and climb mountains (and sometimes get stuck on top).
This summer dad invited me to his first meeting; it was a talk by Stephen M. R. Covey on the concepts covered in his new book, The Speed of Trust.
While listening to Covey explain ways to build trust, one of his points dealt not with earning others’ trust, but with letting others earn your trust. This point surprised me. It stuck with me because I realized it was something I had never really tried to do: I wanted to earn trust, but I didn’t bother letting others earn mine. I hadn’t really ever thought about it.
Sometimes you need other people, and sometimes other people need you.
Which brings me to the first lesson I learned: I was trying so hard to be trusted and accepted that I completely forgot that others might need the same.
So I decided to try to trust people by talking more, to open up to people even if we disagreed. My dad assured me in a conversation later that year that, even if friends aren’t specifically asking me about my thoughts, they still probably want to know.
But the process of learning to trust people has been slow for a few reasons:
First, because changing social habits is really hard. Maybe you’ve noticed that when you spend time with family that you’ve been away from for a while, or with a group of friends that you haven’t seen since high school, you revert to the behavior and personality you had when you were last with them.
Because of this, changing the way I talk has been a very real struggle.
Second, because relationships are built on ordinary encounters. Looking back, I remember conversations with my parents, friends, and cousins that happened because I chose to open-up. But a single conversation won’t make a drastic change. Trust is sort of like discipleship: a long obedience in the same direction.
Building trust takes time.
Third, because I was scared to trust. I can’t layout key reasons why. I don’t know. But as I’ve begun trusting I’ve learned this: sharing something personal is almost never received as badly in real life as I think it will be. Personal disclosure (or worse, confrontation) is hard. And scary. But it usually isn’t that bad when it happens.
Sometimes you need other people, sometimes other people need you, and when we realize that, we unite.
Which brings me to my second lesson: trust is both ordinary and vital.
When I started going to Harbor of Hope in 2008, I can legitimately say I was filling a need. Every sermon involved props. There was a prop team. The prop team needed more people to build cardboard altars and pillars and such. That’s what I did.
Then, the church needed a Kindergarten Sabbath School teacher, so I did that.
Before long, I was working as the church’s Administrative Assistant, organizing the services and helping with whatever the pastor needed. I was doing everything I could so that people would trust me.
And then I needed people to trust.
Calling people every week to fill positions for a church program is humbling. What leverage do you have when you are employed, but everyone you work with is a volunteer? There’s no room for pride. It feels like you’re getting paid to ask other people to do your job.
And that takes some trust: that people won’t be upset at you for nagging them, that they won’t be resentful of your position, or even that they’ll be there when their part of the program starts.
Of course it all worked out, because we’re a church family. And people are a lot better about helping out than I imagine (I can be a little pessimistic).
But I needed people to trust, and people earned it.
Now I need people to trust again, and they’re working really hard to earn it.
On Sabbath, December 27, my family sent me to Cambodia with a dedication and blessing.
Before the service began, I noticed the Knott’s and Ruiz’s walk in. A few co-laborers from ASAP arrived with their families. My grandparents came. My mom and dad were there, just like old times in California. Afterward, my aunt and uncle came. Of course, the church family was there, too. It was great!
During the service, Pastor Taurus took the time to encourage me with a few thoughts. Pastor Coleman offered a prayer. Pastor Scott shared a few more thoughts. And other church leaders that are extremely valuable to me came alongside for the moment.
At lunch (which we share together every week as a church), I took the longest to eat because good friends–brothers and sisters–kept coming up to say goodbye.
And the folks at ASAP Ministries. I’m almost embarrassed at how often they bring me up in their prayers and requests on a daily basis. They care, I know.
I don’t want ever again to trick myself into thinking that people have not loved and cared for me. Because some people, I know, I can trust.
Sometimes you need other people, sometimes other people need you, and when we realize that, we unite. And when we unite, the world recognizes the genuinely great News.
May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Now I pray that others can experience the love, of God, that I felt last Sabbath, and have felt for the last two months at ASAP, and the last six years at Harbor of Hope, and, really, for my entire life with my family and the Adventist Church.