My wife and I recently completed a 2,400-mile drive to Saskatchewan and back. A lot of the driving was on divided highways; a lot of other miles was on 2-lane roads. We faced somewhere between hundreds and thousands of oncoming vehicles, from VW bugs to 24-wheelers, barreling 65 mph or more with maybe 15 feet separating us. I did not trust that they would stay on their side of the road. Rather, I hoped they would.
Merriam-Webster defines trust as: “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed.” I had no basis whatsoever to apply this definition to the drivers of the vehicles barreling toward me at warp highway speeds. The best I could do was hope they were being operated by drivers not drowsing off, not drunk, or not phone texting at the wheel. There is a world of difference between trust and hope. Merriam-Webster again . . this time on hope: “to want something to happen or be true.” To have assurance and confidence in someone or something is a far cry from simply wanting.
In my mountain climbing days, the people on my rope team were individuals that I trusted. In the life-and-death situations which alpine mountaineering always includes, I would not want to put my well-being in the hands of people in which I did not have a high degree of trust. That trust involved knowing that they had the required mountaineering skill set, and that we had a mutual commitment to one another’s welfare. To simply hope that this was the case could lead to dire consequences.
Anyone can hope for any old thing, but trust is something that rests on a solid-rock foundation. This is most certainly true with regard to human relationships. Anyone reading this knows individuals with whom they would trust their life . . . and individuals they would trust about as far as they could throw their car. A genuine trust relationship is something that is built over time. It often begins with hope, but repeated positive experiences morph the “wanting it to be true” into “assured reliance.”
Anyone who has had children has likely heard from them in their youth: “Trust me.” The smart parent would think (if not verbalize): prove it to me. In time, and as the children mature, the initial hope becomes gorilla-glue trust.
Honesty is one of the glue-trust constituents. I said to all three of my growing children: “If I know that you will EVER lie to me, than I can NEVER count on your telling me the truth. And if I can’t count on your ALWAYS telling the truth, that destroys a foundational part of a trust relationship.” All children and parents blow it at one time or another. The key is to learn from it . . . and not blow it again. As that happens, hope becomes trust.
Trust me. Beautiful words for a beautiful phenomenon . . . when the reality is that I really know that I really can trust you.