I have a friend who treasures his substantial beard with such joy that, since his furry procurement mid-adolescence, only a handful of times has he been spotted without some presence of facial hair. He often recounts one of his least favorite decisions: to reluctantly appear clean-shaven to his wedding, though to his bride’s delight. All the earthy brown tufts, reduced to mere stubble, then cleared to the contour of a once-masked face. He immediately began the long journey back to beardedness (although in his case, facial hair reproduction is paced nearly of spiritual gift-proportion). It is his preference to remind his facial hair-challenged friends that, “if your dad doesn’t have a beard, you’ve got two mums.”
Trust is like a beard; it is gained slowly, but can be lost quickly.
Honesty is foundational to any healthy, meaningful relationship. One party must instigate an interaction that moves past the superficial and breaks through perceptions (or misconceptions), approaching the core of who a person is. The tendency for many people is to hide safely behind barriers of untruth, false projection of self, or distraction away from self, all to run interference so as to keep another at arm’s length. Certainly, relationships of any sort can be risky, because with openness of oneself to another (transparency) comes the danger that the other may enact a betrayal of a part of the relationship that was shared in confidence. Honesty provides the arena for a relationship, a context in which traction can develop between two parties.
Trust is risky; it is a bold venture into the fray of uncharted relational territory.
Built upon honesty and a certain level of transparency, a relationship grows in trust as two parties become more familiar with one another, seeing more accurately what’s at the core of the other. Passage of time reveals the consistency with which one both respects the other’s transparency and successively offers his own; the more I’ve seen proven character over a period of time, the more likely I am to deepen trust with that person. One should be hesitant to overstep bounds of wisdom in sharing too much transparency, neglecting proving grounds of time, without mutual and proportional benefit in the relationship.
In an instant, trust is betrayed. A lifetime of relational investment may turn sour when one party’s openness is taken advantage of. The human spirit cringes at the sense of betrayal. The closest of relationships carry the potential for the most fulfilling and the most destructive outcomes, depending on the foundation upon which trust is built. Humans are wired for a variety of connections, forged in honesty and deepening in trust, to the end of interpersonal and communal benefit.
May your trust beard ever grow, slowly but surely.