Hello, friends. It’s been a while. Rather than spend an undue amount of time explaining my absence, I’ll just enjoy the moment of presence and do what I came to do – write.
First, a brief commercial break. I will have you know that I passed the first lemonade stand of the post-Memorial-Day season this weekend and practiced exactly what I preach. Two boys, who I’m guessing were five and seven, were standing street side, holding a torn, brown, cardboard sign with thin, white writing on it – which of course no one could read from their cars. The younger of the pair was calling out passionately to the drivers as they whizzed by (I know this not because I heard him, but only due to the fact that I saw his little mouth working exaggeratedly to form words). He and his sign twisted at the waist with every passing car, as if forced to do so by their sheer velocity. No one was stopping. It was a pitiful sight. Well, in addition to stopping and buying two cups of lemonade, I offered some sound marketing advice, as well: using white poster board instead of the brown cardboard, writing with thick black marker instead of white crayon, and exchanging the screaming for smiling REAL BIG and with teeth (which, as it turned out, were not so many at the moment). They were very grateful, and before running indoors to hunt for the suggested supplies, the older boy offered me a quarter of my money back “for the good advice” (which, of course, I let him keep after complimenting his outstanding manners). For Pete’s sake, don’t be a whiz-by-er. Make a kid’s day. Stop and buy the lemonade!
We now return to our regularly-scheduled programming.
Let me tell you about my new friend Dave. I met Dave about six months ago. We have a lot in common. Graphics and computer skills. Musical abilities. Core beliefs. Youth mentoring.
Dave looks like a younger version of Hugh Jackman. I just thought I’d throw that in there. We do not have this in common. I do not look very much like Hugh Jackman.
But Dave also has quite a bit in common with some other people I have known. People who haven’t been very nice to me, I’m afraid. People who, if truth be told, have been downright mean to me.
Dave has the same hair color as someone who recently betrayed me. The rise and fall of his voice is uncannily similar to the same former friend.
Dave has the same career as someone who recently gossiped and spread lies about me.
Dave uses certain obscure phrases that I’ve only ever heard used by a couple of people in my life – people who have hurt me. Dave goes places those people go, and reads books those people have touted as good reads.
On the flip side, one of the first times Dave and I talked, he told me that I rather reminded him of someone, as well. Dave had heard me singing. He figured out pretty quickly that I was outgoing and talked easily with people. And these things reminded him of someone else who was outgoing and could sing well, someone he’d invested a lot of time into in recent years. In the end, this person had broken Dave’s trust in irreparable ways and hurt people that Dave cared about. In short, this person had made Dave’s life quite hard for quite a long time.
We both acknowledged, from the very first time we talked, that it was a temptation to avoid getting to know one another altogether. “This guy is too much like the last one who caused me so much pain.” Engaging again with someone so similar in so many ways would just be asking for trouble — opening the door for the painful past to repeat itself. Wouldn’t it?
The truth is that Dave is a great guy and a welcome new friend. I enjoy talking with him. I feel excited about possibilities after we hang out. He values my input and I value his. We’ve started into writing a little music together, and he wasn’t afraid to sing in “girl voice” in front of me. I like his sense of humor, and he gets mine. We laugh a lot. I like Dave. I trust Dave.
Brace yourself for this next bit. Trust is a choice.
It’s hard to trust new people who are a lot (or even a little) like people who have betrayed our trust in the past. So, yes, it’s a potentially difficult choice – but a choice nonetheless.
What’s more, basing all new relationships on bad past relationships is irrational, if we really stop and think about it.
Every chair does not give us splinters – even if that one did when we were nine. Will we never sit again?
And that lobster red burn two summers later – the one that had us unable to sleep for days and cleaning skin peelings from our sheets for weeks – is hardly grounds to lock ourselves away in the cellar every time the sun comes up.
There’s a line in Anne of Green Gables, where Anne’s trusted mentor and friend, Ms. Stacy, has this to say: “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” And that is true of new relationships, as well. Each one is fresh, with no mistakes in it.
So, if you are afraid, then go ahead and say so. Decide together to do things differently. Be different, if there are things in you that could use changing this time around. But by all means, do choose to trust again. For to choose otherwise – to live within a self-made fortress of skepticism and fear – is to rob ourselves of the potential for future joy, as well.