“Daddy, let’s go play!” was the daily cry after the dinner table had been cleared. And play we did. Every evening the girls’ bedroom was transformed into a den of raucous laughter and delight. The mundane activities of the day gave way to shrieks of excitement as games of “The Incredible Hulk”, “Belly Monster,” and “Belly Bouncer” took center stage. “Belly Bouncer” was a favorite as the girls would run from one end or side of the bed to the other, leap fearlessly toward me and bounce off my belly back onto the bed. Time after time, night after night, the play—the bouncing, the shrieking, the laughter—went on.
One night, however, stood out above the rest. On that particular night I was standing between the wall and the side of the bed and play was carrying on as usual. The scene played out almost instantaneously: Tamara ran across the bed; I, not seeing her coming, moved to do something with Gretchen; Tamara, instead of bouncing off my belly, ran face-first into the wall and fell to the floor in a crying heap. I quickly gathered her into my arms, consoled her as I apologized and told her I did not see her ready to jump and that my absence was not intentional. And soon she was better and we were back playing.
But I noticed a change. In the days that followed I sensed a little hesitation in Tamara before she ran toward me. Would I move or would I be there? Would she bounce back delightedly or fall once again to the floor? Up until that night, trust had not been an issue. She had known nothing else but that Daddy would be there. Innocently she had been introduced to the culprit of doubt and her worldview had been altered.
Far too often, even in the community of faith, our doubts are confirmed: people just can’t be trusted. One of the most common comments shared with me by pastors is, “I can’t trust other pastors…” to maintain confidentiality, to not gossip, to encourage and not compete or compare or condemn. Doubt in one another as kingdom citizens is one of the greatest tragedies of the power of sin at work among us. And our doubts are well-founded. We are often not trustworthy people. And because of that, we keep one another at an emotional distance and shelter ourselves from the intimacy that enables us to overcome differences and move together into “unity of faith” and “unity of knowledge of the Son of God” and become mature (Eph 4:13). It is difficult to obey Jesus’ command to love one another as Christ-followers (let alone think about loving the world) when we are motivated by doubt in one another.
Trust is rooted in God. Doubt is rooted in self. Love is the foundation of trust. Fear is the foundation of doubt. Trust is a choice, a willingness to risk in love. Doubt is a response of fear. Until we deal with the internal issues of doubt, we will most likely struggle to build healthy, trusting relationships.
The girls and I no longer play “Belly Bouncer” and “Belly Monster” or “The Incredible Hulk.” But we share loving, trusting, caring relationships that make life’s journey precious. We have learned that none of us are perfect and that we will sometimes make poor choices or decisions. But beneath all of our frailties, there is an undeniable trust in the love, grace, and goodness of one another and the knowledge that we each desire God’s best for one another.
Is doubt an issue? The journey of healing begins within. Be courageous enough to trust God to find the healing from past hurts and an unhealthy self-awareness that keeps you at a distance from others.
Do you really want to learn how to trust more completely? Well, that’s another story…