“The best proof of love is trust” (Joyce Brothers).
IN A SENSE, TRUST IS THE MOST GENEROUS GIFT ONE PERSON CAN GIVE TO ANOTHER. All of us know that we fall short of being completely trustworthy; even if we’re generally faithful to our commitments, there have been at least a few times when we’ve let others down. And so, when someone extends trust to us, we know they’re accepting some risk. In order to benefit us, they’re allowing themselves to be made vulnerable. And that’s a very generous thing to do. Not only is trust the “best proof of love,” as Joyce Brothers puts it, it’s also the costliest gift that love can bestow.
Trust is never more beautiful than when it’s given as a conscious choice. There are some individuals who are so naturally easy to trust that we find ourselves comfortably drawn in the direction of trusting them. At some point in our relationship, we simply wake up and realize that we’ve come to trust them. But there are others who, for whatever reason, are not so easy to trust, and when we make the conscious choice to trust them anyway, that’s a beautiful gesture indeed.
We may as well admit it: it takes strength of character to give the gift of trust. In many cases, the question of whether we will trust another person is not so much a question of their character as it is a question of our own. If you look at your list of relationships and you see that there aren’t many people you trust, you may think you’ve just had the bad luck to be surrounded by an unusual number of traitors. The more likely explanation, however, is that you just haven’t developed the internal character to engage in the act of trust.
It’s true that we pay a price for trusting other people, but the price of weakness and lack of trust is even higher. To be mistrustful is to be miserable. “You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough” (Frank Crane).
And not only does mistrust make us miserable, it also erodes our integrity. Doubters and cynics (those who make a big deal about how few people there are in the world who can be trusted) are very rarely people you’d want to go into business with. So how about you and me? Do we trust others? If not, they probably can’t trust us either!
“He who mistrusts most should be trusted least” (Theognis).