Honey, Trust Me


Do not plot harm against your neighbor who lives trustfully near you. Proverbs 3:29

"I was about five years old when my mother took me into the back yard. She played a game with me that a lot of parents play with their children."

The woman telling me this story was about fifty years old. She was a patient in an alcohol rehabilitation program and was visiting with me to discuss issues of faith and recovery. Part of our work together was to explore how God could provide the strength she would need to become and remain sober. Another important aspect of our work was for her to identify incidents from her life that caused her pain and shame. That’s what she was doing now.

"My mother took me into the backyard to play a game with me and teach a lesson about life. She taught me a lesson that was so profound it is still with me. I haven’t been able to shake it in all these years. It still haunts me."

"Mom lifted me up on a rock wall we had in our back yard along the cement sidewalk. It was several feet high. Since I was a little girl the wall seemed like a mountain."

"‘Ok,’ mom said, ‘Jump!’"

"Jump? You want me to jump?" I asked my mother?

"‘Of course I do, honey,’ mom said. ‘You jump and I’ll catch you.’"

"But mom, I’m scared! I’m up high!"

"‘I know. But I want you to learn about trust and faith. You jump and I’ll catch you.’"

"Are you sure, mom? Will you catch me?"

"‘Of course I’ll catch you honey. You can always trust your mother!’"

She was intense, this lady. Her voice was subdued, her eyes cast down, but her pain was inescapable. I couldn’t understand why the retelling of this little game was evoking such extreme emotion in the woman. She continued.

"It took considerable prompting but I finally trusted my mother enough. I jumped."

She paused and wept silently for a moment. Then she said, "My mother was standing there with her arms out, smiling, encouraging me to jump. She promised to catch me. But when I jumped, mom lowered her arms, stepped back, and let me fall on the concrete sidewalk. As I lay there crying my mother leaned over me and said, ‘I did this to teach you a lesson. Don’t ever trust anyone. They will always let you fall and you will get hurt.’ Then she walked off, leaving me crying in pain. And I have been in pain ever since."

The jarring of her bones and the tearing of her knees couldn’t compare to the jarring and tearing of her heart. This woman learned her lesson well, and never trusted her mother or any man after her fateful jump. She spent her adult life yearning to be valued by someone, to be held, to be cherished, but she could never hazard the risk of trusting someone to experience love like this. The closest she came to real love was her relationship with a bottle, and it was killing her.

But something deep in her psyche convinced her that this was not the way life was supposed to be. This poor woman knew she had been violated by her own mother, and that good and pure desires and needs had been twisted by her. She wanted to experience life in a new, fresh way. She wanted to love a man and trust that he could really love her.

She knew the first step was to seek help for her drinking, to trust that someone would care enough struggle through the grueling process of recovery at her side. Most of us will never know the superhuman effort required for her to take that first step at a meeting and say to a stranger, "Will you help me?"

Do not plot harm against your neighbor who lives trustfully near you, or against your own spouse or children who live in your home. Trust is a key ingredient in any relationship. Violate it intensely or frequently enough, and you destroy any opportunity for happiness and relationship.

As a child this woman was intentional battered to discourage any faith and hope in other people. Yet we need to trust others, even with their failings, so we can enjoy connection with them. This woman is learning that, and she progressed in recovery and slowly learned to trust others, largely because she was learning about someone who would never let her fall: God.

If you experience an inability to love and trust, because arms that promised to catch you did not, take heart in another verse from Proverbs: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart" (Prov. 3:5). He will never let us fall.

Warren Baldwin


Kay said...

oh, very profound... at first, I thought of pshychology class, where your neighbor was intended to catch you and you had to trust they would catch you (hard, especially in adolescense- with all the 'silliness') but as you move forward... a touching story and great reminder. Blessings to you :)

Warren Baldwin said...

Kay - my teenage daughter just went through some of these "trust" exercises with a high school leadership class. This story is quite different. This was a pretty profound session for me, one I have never forgotten. Thanks for the visit and comment.

Karin said...

Warren, that just gripped my heart in a spasm of pain! I have my own story of abuse, but I can not begin to imagine such an injury and insult to one's own child. And yet it makes me wonder what had happened in this mother's life to do this????? Oh God, have mercy!

Steve said...

Warren, I'm sure this was very hard on you, and this woman. The lesson (not puting all our trust in man) I can understand, we need to put all our trust in God,but the way she went about it was all wrong.
When all my kids were small, I'd ask them to do this very thing, but would always catch them. I wanted them to trust me, and have faith that I would always be there for them.
As always in your stories, there is much to learn here. God bless

Terry said...

That was a powerful illustration, Warren. Thank you.

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh wow, Warren. This is a jarring story. I wanted to cry for this woman and shake her mother! What an awful thing to do to anyone. Trust is hard enough in a world when you have support. I pray she was able to trust God finally.

Faith Imagined said...

I am totally crying Warren! What a heart-wrenching story! It amazes me what mess children grow up in! This story inspires me to reach out more. So many people are hurting! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Lori Laws said...

Hi Warren! Great writing, as usual! Thanks for sending me this. Have a great day, and God bless!

RCUBEs said...

Wow! I thought...what a sweet, loving mom at first...until I started reading what came next and how awful! I hope she finds the comfort in Jesus that she can learn to trust again.

Thanks for visiting me with my latest post. It happened long time ago that the Lord brought to mind for me to post. After that incident, that inmate never said a thing anymore. She remained quiet every Accucheck time, until she was released. Glory to God! Have a blessed week bro. Warren. God bless.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

That's powerful and so sad, really. All I think is that her mother must have been a really hurting person to do that to her own child. Both need mega prayers!

Andrea said...

If you do not know Lisa, you can click on the button read all about what has been going on. It is unbelievable. She is at the beginning of this battle and her only chance to live is to proceed as she has...the insurance company deems it a terminal cancer even though the doctors at MD Anderson feel she has a good chance in beating it. They were able to remove tumors and get good margins during her surgery. So far so good! However, how is she suppose to pay for it. They have 4 young children. Sorry, I am venting.....
THANK YOU for your prayers and the prayers of all those you will tell.

Steph T. said...

So thankful we have Him to trust...:)

Edie said...

This brought tears to my eyes for many reasons. Thanks for posting this Warren.

He will never let us fall.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, how sad. What an awful thing to do to a trusting chld. I pray this lady receives the healing she needs.

That all of us need, for that matter. May we be willing to trust Jesus, who never steps back and leaves us to bleed.

Katie said...

Thank you for sharing this Warren. Having worked in the Foster Care system, I'm not surprised by this story. I wonder what this woman's mother's life was like to lead her to that terribel day.

Warren Baldwin said...

Karin - You are wise to wonder what had happened in the mother's life that she would do this. She, too, was very hurt. She actually thought she was doing good with this little exercise. She was trying to brace her daughter against the meanness of this world and some people so that she would not get hurt. Very sad.

Steve - Thanks. And I used to play the same game with my kids. But, like you, I would catch them! We wanted to teach them trust, first in us and then in God.

Terry - Thank you, and you are welcome!

Terri - She was able to trust God eventually. That, in fact, is why she was in rehab so many years after the incident. She learned later that what her mom did to her was abhorrent. Yet, the damage was already done, and the woman became very alone and sought companionship in drinking and partying. That didn't satisfy, but but it did creat an addiction. This was a very courageous women to grow out of that.

Faith Imagined - My work in rehab opened my eyes up to so much stuff. Thanks for sharing that this encouraged you to reach out more. This and many stories like it had a similar response in me. So many times after a session like this I would literally rush home (7 miles out in the country from the center I worked at) and just hug my wife and kids and tell them how much I loved and needed them.

Warren Baldwin said...

Lori - Thank you!

RCUBES - She was on a road to recovery and was finding the love and peace she so desperately sought for years.

Eileen - Yes, the mom was hurting very badly herself. In our grief and pain we often make decisions that seem so wise but really are so horribly damaging to other people and ourselves. This was certainly one of those decisions.

Andrea - Thank you for making us aware of Lisa and her situation!

Steph - Yes, thankful that we have him to trust, and that we have loving parents who faithful model God's character!

Warren Baldwin said...

Edie - It brought tears to my eyes to be there with her. Fortunately, God was bringing healing to her.

Jeanette - So true! Jesus never steps back to leave us fall and bleed. And that is what we as parents want to teach our kids, isn't it? Like Steve said in a comment above, when we play this game with our kids, we catch them. From that we extrapolate to teach our kids that God will always catch them. But, sadly, not every body understands that nature of God.

Katie - If you have worked in foster care I'll be you have seen A LOT of this sort of thing. So sad. But, that gives us Christians a focus, as Faith Imagined mentioned above - to reach out.

Thank you all for visiting and commenting! wb

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh my goodness! My eyes are stinging. I know I shouldn't judge but I'm so angry at that mother right now! :-( What a horrible thing to do to your child.
It's hard for me to trust people. I know how easily we fail, but you're right, and the Bible is true, that we can always trust God to take care of us.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Hello Warren~ First, let me say how powerful this post is. It especially hit home for me, because my sister is currently in rehap for alcohol and drug addiction. Before reading your comment on my blog, I was at the post office, mailing her a letter of encouragement and a book by an author we both love. It's hard to be far away from her. Thankfully, trust knows no distance.

Secondly, thank you for visiting my blog. I would be honored if you linked my article about short fiction on your blog's sidebar. Thank you for asking, and know that you have an open invitation to link any of my posts in the future.

Have a wonderful day!

Warren Baldwin said...

Jessica - Yes, people do fail and disappoint us. One thing that makes it easier for me to accept it when someone breaks my trust in them is that I have done that to others. But, I hope never as powerfully and painfully as this mother did to her daughter. I was angry that day, too! Thank goodness trust in God does not disappoint like that.

Nicole - Good comment, "trust knows no distance." And I'll link that short story post. Thanks.

Janice said...

What a powerful story! It brings back my own painful memories. I was sexually abused by my own father and an uncle. My dad used to say “this is just our little secret”, like that was supposed to make me feel special. To this day when ever I hear someone use that phrase, I feel nauseous. My dad has been dead since the late 70’s and I wasn’t able to forgive him until years after his death. The anger and hatred I had for my abusers, (plus marrying at the age of fifteen and being in that abusive relationship for sixteen years) led me down my own path of destruction with drugs and alcohol. After two suicide attempts, God put people in my life who loved the unlovable me and taught me how much Jesus loves me. I quit drinking, using drugs, smoking and basically eating, all cold turkey a while after my dad died. I lost 100 pounds in less than a year, and I never drank, used drugs or smoked again. I did gain some of the weight back but have since retrained my eating habits and taken it off again.
(Around that same time, I confronted my uncle and he stepped up to the plate and admitted what he did. He was extremely remorseful and asked for my forgiveness and I forgave him.)

I was among the most sinful, yet I have been healed. 1 Cor 6:11 But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Thank you for sharing this woman’s powerful story. I share my story whenever the need arises. I want people to know that Jesus still heals and that no situation is hopeless.

T. Anne said...

What a heart wrenching story! My heart bleeds for that woman and those like her. I suppose everyone experiences this to a degree, albeit not that dramatic. You're right though, He will not let us fall! Praise God.

GutsyWriter said...

I just read your moving story after revising my own chapter about how I believe that love is crucial to raise respectful and caring children, and yet, I did not get respect through showing love. That is a completely different issue though. It just shows how we are hurt forever in varying degrees, from something that happened during our childhood.

Warren Baldwin said...

Janice - Your story is an amazing one of transformation and growth. Thank you for sharing it here. I'll bet you have helped a lot of people with your story. There is so much hurt and pain in the world. One thing that keeps my faith alive is the hope that at the parousia (second coming) Jesus will straighten all things out, and give much needed comfort to the many people crying out for it.

T. Anne - My heart bled for her. And as angry as I was with the mom, I wonder, like many of the others who responded, what happened in her life that she became so cold and hard? She was deeply hurt, too. Amen to God not letting us fall!

GutsyWriter - You are right. I don't think we can escape some kind of scarring to our psyches. Our parents do it to us and we somehow do it to our kids, as much as we try not to. It's part of the human condition!

Thank you all for visiting and commenting.


hope42day said...

I pray for this woman that she may learn a trust unlike no other in God. And that someday, she may have so much love that she will be able to forgive and if her mother is still alive to teach her trust as well.

Shauna Renee' said...

I linked to your blog to read Alisa's post and started browsing. The title "Honey, Trust Me" I half expected to be something humorous about spousal relationships, having not visited here before. I was not prepared for the story presented. Oh my. As a nurse for nearly 30 years, I've seen my share of hurting people. My own mother used to tell me to not be so trusting of people, but she would never have demonstrated it in such a graphic way. I have been far from a perfect mother myself, but would never even THINK of doing such a thing to a child. What tremendous hurt must have been in that woman's life. Thank you for sharing, and I thank the Lord for people who do the type of work you do.