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the trust of a child



This past week we had a three and a half year old join us for camp. What a beautiful child – his giggles, his excitement, his theories on life – he was such a huge delight and gift to our community. It was also beautiful to watch as the youth and the older children took turns engaging with him at his level and caring for him. We played a game of soccer and if this little boy was around, everybody would give the ball to him and ‘throw’ the game.

He would get tired though (these are long days for all of us!). And he would frequently fall asleep in my arms. Each time this would happen, I found myself reflecting on the gift of trust that children give us.

This child had only met me this week and offered me complete trust. He wanted my approval for his art and other accomplishments, and would do whatever I asked him. I think a sign of this great trust is feeling safe enough to fall asleep in a strange setting, with a group of strangers. What a gift. Trust is a beautiful thing. To be considered trust worthy is a privilege.

But as I hear the stories of our community, I am frequently saddened by how people forget this trust is a gift and privilege – something to be treasured. Instead, trust is too frequently exploited for a person’s own selfishness. Instead of providing an environment in which a child/youth can thrive, trust is broken, maligned, twisted.

For one of my courses, I have been researching and writing about these things so it is near my mind. It seems to me that the greatest wound one can carve into a child is the betrayal of trust.

Trust is something I still work on. I’ve come along way. Thanks to God’s love, and faithful people who have sought to earn and maintain trust. But I still wonder and there is often a sense of distrust or suspicion – why do you care? Why do you invest in me? why are you supporting me? why are you taking care of me in some way?

To be honest, while my head gets God is trustworthy, the wounds of broken trust impact my relationship with God. God is good – but does he work for my good or his? Will he too use me solely for the benefit of others? A topic for another post – but I have been reminded lately of a ‘gift’ that God has given me that I really do not want as I could not see how it was indeed a gift. Last night, I realized that this gift enabled me to feel God’s presence and closeness this week. That is indeed a gift. But the suspicion came first. Oh how I wish that those who betrayed me so deeply had thought about the long term consequences of their actions, particularly on the ability to trust others – whether God or people.

As I work with children and youth, it is my deepest prayer that their trust will be held sacred. That the trust they place in others will be met by a holy desire to care for them and watch them thrive. And that we adults who have the privilege to work alongside them live in ways that encourage trust. May we not forget that they look to us for love, guidance, help and comfort and may we never take that beautiful trust and break it.

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