If I Don’t Trust You, You Can’t Love Me

Here is a truth in relationships: If I don’t trust you, you can’t love me. No matter how much love you have for me. That’s true with God and with each other.

Think about it. No matter how much you love me and want to show me you love me, if I don’t trust you, I won't receive, or accept your love. Today I want to unpack how significant elements of our faith like identity, trust, humility, and love, are interconnected, building on our conversation about love and longing a couple weeks ago.

To do that, think about these oversimplified definitions.

These are all interconnected. Humility leads to trust which unlocks love. Humility says, “I can’t”, therefore I “will let”, or trust you. Trust is a byproduct or a posture of humility, and both are relational. They both lead to love. If in humility I trust you, then I let you know me, see my needs, and meet those needs, loving me. Loving me by meeting my innate needs of being seen, soothed, safe, and secure. I need God and others to meet those needs because I am designed to not be able to meet them in and of myself, which is why we need others.

What starts with surrender, with humility, ends in what we long for, relationships of love.

Look, I know my wife Emily loves me so much. But the ceiling or limit of the depths of our love isn’t how much I love her, or how much she loves me. But it’s more limited in how much I let her love me, connected to how much I trust her. See my shame says, if she really knew, or if you processed those fears with her, she would lose respect, not love you as much etc. So I keep her distanced from some of my junk, and in turn I miss out on a deeper level of being known and loved.

A lot of us really don’t like ourselves. Our shame lies scream so loud about how screwed up we are, how we are unlovable, and we agree. This is shame not humility. Humility is thinking of ourselves rightly in relation to our amazing creator. Humility and surrender are siblings that focus on how we can’t but God did and does. Humility expands as we focus more on God and less on ourselves.

Shame keeps us fixated on ourselves, disbelieving how God sees us. We don’t like ourselves and are ashamed of ourselves. If we don’t like ourselves, no wonder we struggle to receive love from our spouse or God or anybody. Because if we let our spouse love us, then we would be disagreeing with our own perspective of our identity, or how we view ourselves, that we are unlovable, or are undeserving of love. Our adolescent kids with identity and insecurity issues won’t let us love them because they don’t love themselves. Our identity is connected to our ability to receive love. If we see ourselves as undeserving of love, we can’t let others love us because we don’t believe them or think they should. In most unhealthy marriages, this is often the barrier.

That’s why we can also only receive love to the degree that we love ourselves, because those beliefs have to go together and can’t oppose each other. This is true with our friends, spouses, and with God. I was processing a marriage which is on thin ice with a friend, and this was the core. No matter how much love they have for each other, they couldn’t receive it because the core issue in this situation was unresolved wounding that affected their view of God and themselves, preventing them from being able to let the other person love them.

This idea makes me think of a dam. I feel like I am standing at the base of this limitless supply of living water, and the water is what I am thirsting for. It’s what I want. The living water is intimacy and connectedness with my creator, my father. To experience his love. But, there is this massive dam in between me and what I am longing for. The dam is my fear rooted in shame. My fear tells me it’s safer to keep these walls up. “Nah I am good, I will find what I am looking for. I’ll take the easier and safer way.” And the reality is that my fears—these walls—are the very blockade preventing me from experiencing love from God and others. It is keeping me thirsty and quietly killing me. But when I trust, I open a valve, and it allows this water to flow. In our relationships, when we finally let down our walls and allow ourselves to trust, it unlocks this living water of love in our lives. First from God, but also with others.

Now, trusting is not safe or passive. It’s really hard for me to take down the walls and release control. It takes courage.

So, how do we move towards love? In humility we believe that we need God. In trusting him, we trust who he God says we are as redeemed, forgiven, righteous, loved, and liked sons and daughters of the king. We choose to trust who God says we are. That quiets the voice of shame, quiets the fears and anxieties connected to our lies and our shame, and positions us to trust God and others. To open the valve and let others love us. To let God love us. To experience the love we are longing for and made for.  Every day. Practicing trusting God and others.

God is love, we are made in his image, and he made our relationships of love possible. It’s the greatest commandment in Matthew 22—to love God and love others. And he gave us the Spirit to love through us. He made it possible for us to receive love and to give love, all by him and through him, in his amazing grace.

So what do we do with this. This is what we do. We work out our trust muscle. In humlity, lets bring something on our heart or that we are concerned about or struggling with to God or someone in our life. Trust them wtih the real us, and just let them love us. Let them meet our needs of being known, seen, soothed, safe and secure. Trusting them to know us and to love us.

And the next podcast we are going to talk about fears and anxiety and how those can help point us to love.


New Episodes every Monday!