The Acute Pain of Trust

This year, there will be three backpacks.

Three lunch boxes

Three kids dropped off at the entrance to the elementary school.

And one empty house for several more hours a day.

All three of our children, for the first time, will go to school this year. This will be the last first day of school. And though I’ve prided myself on not being “that parent,” I’m for sure “that parent.” I’ve done my share of fretting and wondering whether or not we have rightly prepared this kindergartner, like his brother and sister, for this first real entrance into the big, wide world. When I think about those things, and I think about my big boy walking away with his newly minted lunch box in his hand into a classroom for the first time, my heart hurts.

There are moments like this that happen periodically in our lives that remind us of the acute pain of trust. These are the times when we remember that trust is not am emotion; nor is it the default human condition. It is a choice, and it hurts to make that choice when it comes to things as precious as your children.

Trust hurts. It hurts like having someone much stronger than you pry your hands, one finger at a time, off of the thing that you have clutched so tightly. It hurts because it’s a tangible reminder that you, and I, are not nearly as in control as we all think we are. It hurts because our illusions of that control are popped like balloons, and the sound of the popping leaves our ears ringing.

What is the salve for the acute pain of trust? It’s not the promise that everything will be okay, because the truth is that everything might not be okay. At least not in this life. Stuff is going to happen, and that stuff will no doubt be even more painful. When we cling to the hope that everything will be fine in this life, we are grasping at smoke – it’s just one more attempt to hold onto that bursting balloon of control. No – the false promise of prosperity and ease and comfort cannot sooth the soul during times like this.

The only thing that really can – and that truly does – is thinking deeply on the character of the One in whom we are trusting. Of knowing that while we lack control, He does not. Of knowing that while our strength is limited, His is not. Of knowing that while we sleep, He is wide awake. Of knowing that our plans and dreams may fail but His never will. God and God alone is where we must turn when trust hurts. And when we do, we will not find Him unaware.

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