What is the meaning of trust? (October 26, 2010)

I have long pondered the word “trust.” For instance, when Lesson 181 says, “I trust my brothers who are one with me,” what does that mean? What does it mean to trust our brothers? What does it mean to trust God?

What has hung me up is that I have associated trust with “expect someone will do certain things” or even “a particular thing.” So “I trust my brothers” sounds like “I trust them to behave appropriately.” And “I trust God” sounds like “I expect Him to be reliable in answering this prayer.”

Now those are valid applications of the word “trust,” but the word itself represents a much more basic concept. Here are two definitions I recently found online:

Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing. 

reasonable expectation (confidence) of the trustor that the trustee will behave in a way beneficial to the trustor;

Both definitions, I believe, are quite accurate to how we use the word. The first says that I trust the essential goodness of someone or something. The second says that I trust that someone will be beneficial for me. If we put these together, I think we get a pretty full definition: trust is firm reliance on the essential goodness of someone and firm confidence that that goodness will have a beneficial effect on me.

So “I trust my brothers” means “I trust the essential goodness in them and trust that goodness to have a beneficial effect on me.” This kind of trust can be valid even if someone is almost completely ego-dominated. His essential goodness is still there and can still have a beneficial effect on me. So in this sense, I can still trust him.

And “I trust God” means the same thing: “I trust the essential goodness in God and trust Him to have a beneficial effect on me.” That seems quite different to me than “I trust Him to answer this prayer in a way I recognize and like.” I can still trust Him quite profoundly in the first way and not particularly trust Him at all in the second way. But the first way is more fundamental, isn’t it? It’s more basic.

What I found is that, when seen this way, I have built up quite a lot of trust in God. I do feel a conviction born of long experience that God is purely good and is beneficial for me. I have come to see a goodness in God that really is on my side. He is on the side of my happiness. He is refuge rather than danger. I must say it felt very good to find all that trust there. There is a well there to draw from. Now I just need to go and draw water more often!

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