To Trust... Or Not to Trust
Dena Johnson MartinDena Johnson is a former single mom to three amazing kids: Blake, Cole, and Cassie and wife to her high school friend, Roy. She strives to follow Christ each day and to lead her children to do the same. She delights in taking the every day experiences of life and turning them into biblical lessons for her children. Dena's daily prayer is simple: Lord, my life is yours. Live through me. Love through me. Parent through me. Let me decrease that you might increase. Dena is the founder of Dena Johnson Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people find beauty through the brokenness of this life. Her heart's desire is to use her own pain to point others to the power of God who redeems every hurt, every pain. You can contact Dena at Dena@denajohnson.com. You can also find her blog at Dena Johnson Ministries.
- 2016 Sep 15
It is definitely a year I won’t forget. Death. Illness. Surgery. Financial struggles. New relationship.
Several months ago, I told you about our cat, Tigresse. She was one of a kind. She was our gopher hunting, mouse killing, door opening four-year-old cat.
But, I use the term “was.”
Back in March, she mysteriously vanished, and we were heart-broken. As much as she drove us crazy, she also stole our hearts. We know she will never be replaced.
But, living in a rural area, a cat is an absolute necessity. And thus began our hunt for a new cat. In May, my sister gave my daughter a new kitten, hoping it would give her some healing.
Less than two months later, Smokey disappeared. Vanished one evening while my kids were at church camp.
So I found Ace. Ace was a beautiful, sleek and shiny solid black kitten. He was a little high-strung and anxious. But, he grew on us…for the month we had him. Yes, he, too, mysteriously vanished.
By this time, we began to wonder what was happening to our kittens. Our best guess is that there may be a coyote stalking kittens in our neighborhood (I’ve seen neighbors post “Missing Kitten” posters so I know we aren’t the only ones with mysteriously vanishing kittens.)
You would think I would know when to stop. But I am determined to have a cat to kill the critters around our house.
This time, I decided to find two kittens. I was hoping they would keep each other company, keep them close to the house until they could turn into the great hunters I am hoping for.
When a friend posted on Facebook about two stray kittens, I jumped at them! Rushed right over and picked them up. I thought it would be an easy transition.
Boy, was I wrong!
These two kittens are terrified of humans! They run from us, hide from us. We are constantly searching for them, trying to make sure they haven’t crawled up into our cars before we leave in the mornings. They have been a true challenge.
A couple times each day, we open some cat food and set it out for them. We make sure they have water and cat litter (although they don’t use it). When we can catch them, we pick them up and hold them, showing them we are safe. We are doing everything we can to show these kittens we are trustworthy, that we want nothing but the best for them. But it has been a hard sell.
This weekend, one of the kittens had a breakthrough. After wandering away from the safety of our home, a kind neighbor brought him back to us. My son held him close, stroking his head gently. He began to purr loudly, to settle into the safety of Blake’s arms.
The next time we saw him, he actually walked toward us instead of running and hiding! It was a huge break-through! Maybe, just maybe, this kitten will learn to trust us, to allow us to love him.
As I was thinking about these sweet kittens, I began to think about my own life. It has taken years for me to let the walls down, to trust God with all the broken pieces of my heart. He has carefully fed me, pursued me, fought for my affections.
And yet, so often I find myself running in fear, not wanting to trust Him. I would rather cower in the corner, protecting my broken heart, allowing the walls to safely surround my heart and keep me safe—and keep others out.
But slowly over time, His tender mercies and unending faithfulness have broken the walls down. I’ve let Him in to heal my heart, to show me He is indeed completely trustworthy. And I’ve learned to run to Him, to let Him scoop me up and hold me close.
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7
Yes, I have learned that God is completely trustworthy. I trust Him with all my heart. He has helped me every step of the way, filled my heart with joy.
But now, I am trying to learn to trust a man with my heart.
Yes, I’m learning this dating stuff is not for the faint of heart, especially not after your heart has been ripped to shreds. I find myself acting just like this little kitten. Some days I run out in excitement, ready to be loved. I’m excited to move forward, to forget all of those days of wandering around like a stray kitten with no one to love me.
Other days, I find myself running and hiding. Finding any corner where I can cower in fear, uncertain of what the future holds. Can I really trust this man with my heart? Can I let my walls down? Will he protect me, protect my heart, like my Heavenly Father does? Or should I leave my walls up, stay inside the safety of the fortress I’ve built around my heart?
So far, my friend has been nothing but amazing! Roses just because. Rushing to my side in crisis. Loving my kids as his own. Fixing things around my house. Mowing my yard when the boys are gone. Being a listening ear when life is crashing around me.
He has stood by me in so many ways, honored me, treasured me. He has been my strength when I was absolutely weak, pointing me back to the Father when I felt as if my faith would crumble.
And yet, I still have my moments of fear. Moments when I feel as if I must run and hide. Moments when I am terrified to trust him with my heart. Moments when I think God must be crazy to ask me to break the walls down.
But that’s where my trust in my Savior comes into play. You see, while men have yet to prove they are trustworthy, God has proven Himself completely trustworthy. As I look back at the many ways He has cared for me, I know I can trust Him. I know He loves me completely, wants only the best for me.
This man has chosen to make God the center of his life. He is a fallible human, one who can—and will—disappoint me (as I will him). But, because he has chosen to make God the center of his life, I can trust God in him.
I may not trust him, but I do trust God in him.
That’s why I could never date anyone who hasn’t chosen to fully surrender to the Savior. I could never trust anyone who hasn’t chosen to be the one.
And I pray you also understand why it is absolutely essential that when you decide to let your walls down, you also choose to wait until you find one who has chosen to give his/her heart fully to the Savior so you can give your heart to him/her.