Thursday, February 4, 2010


In my desk at work is a yellowed copy of "The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary." The front cover is missing and has been for as long as I can remember. The back cover is there and is showing its age as well. The pages are brittle and occasionally I'll lose a page off the front that contains the minutiae that explains how to pronounce this or that and may be incredibly helpful but I pretty much doubt it. I have no idea where I actually acquired this dictionary along the career path, but it has been packed and unpacked as I've played musical banks. All I can definitely say is that I use it every few days or so at work. I trust that it will be in my right top drawer and will keep me from making heinous spelling errors. It has been quite trustworthy so far.

In my job, I analyze financial statements, but I primarily write. Sometimes the keyboard sticks and I misspell something, and other times I just don't like the word I've chosen, and I am in search of a synonym. I suppose that everybody is plagued by the spelling of certain words, but it is a particular pet peeve of mine. Not if other people misspell words...but if I do. I've had to learn to get over myself these past five years because from time to time I'm just going to miss something. It happens.

And then there's that distressing problem of relying too heavily on "spell check." Just because something is properly spelled, it doesn't necessarily reflect what we intend. A particularly mortifying example would be leaving the "l" out of "public." Been there. Done that.

Anyway, I use the dictionary fairly often and have come to rely on it. At home, I cheat using the search feature in another window when I am writing. I've had to rethink this policy as of late. My recent mangling of the word "pachyderm" (kindly pointed out to me privately by a teacher friend) taught me that you can't always place blind trust into something. Dang that Google.

According to the dictionary on my desk (which I consulted before leaving today), the definition of "trust" is "reliance on the integrity, veracity (which means truthfulness, accuracy) of a person; confidence." Forgive me for giving you that definition within a definition if you knew it, but I didn't. However, that being the definition, who can you really trust?

You certainly can't always trust yourself. I can prove that being in a room with a caramel cake for longer than 30 seconds. I also know that my impressions are often faulty. I've met people that I liked on sight but learned as the layers of friendship were peeled back that I was dealing with someone totally foreign. Other times, people have initially annoyed me beyond belief, but over time I've learned that I'm responding to their defense mechanisms instead of the heart of gold underneath. I've made commitments I've broken, and I've fallen short. I've stepped in it and I've avoided obligations. While I trust my instincts in most areas, I also know that I am not invincible. I am human. And the one thing that I can completely trust is that I am in no way perfect.

Other times your perception of a situation is simply wrong. You see life through the cloud of your unique experiences, biases, impressions, and even hormone levels, and you may totally misjudge it. Being wrong...especially can make you stop trusting yourself and start relying on other people to make decisions for you. If you need this for a season of life...fine. But out of something like fear or is just ridiculous.

People will let you down sometimes. Somewhere along the way, you may have found that people are (gasp!) imperfect. Maybe you've set up rules for yourself that keeps people at arm's length or perhaps you've just given up and become a doormat. Maybe it was when you were a child and realized that Santa Claus was actually a tradition and felt like you had been lied to in the name of the magic of Christmas...and felt foolish for being so gullible. Perhaps you trusted a friend who stabbed you in the back or embarrassed you publicly. Or maybe you were led astray because you believed what someone said and later found out that they lied to make it easier on themselves. We all learn the lesson in different ways...but we all learn.

Some people put their trust in the government. This is a tenuous prospect at best. The government is a political animal with a ferocious appetite and very little conscience. Laws and lawmakers change, and those who rely on the government sell their productivity and individuality for a monthly check. The programs are normally put in place to help people on a temporary basis. It is now - sadly - a lifestyle option.

You certainly can't put your trust in money. Markets go up and down, fortunes dry up, and technology makes items obsolete. The newspapers are full of stories of heirs to large fortunes living lives of debauchery and excess. This practice of cutting the butterflies out of the cocoons means that these people never build the muscle to figure out how to make life worth living, and are doomed to weak and unproductive lives. They may look pretty...but they are not functioning for the purpose that they were created.

Money is a cruel taskmaster. There never seems to be enough of it, and people will do some pretty twisted things in pursuit of it. It doesn't buy security or true friends...ask any lottery winner. Kept in its proper is not necessarily negative...but money alone certainly cannot be trusted.

You can't trust your education, your experience, or your marketability. Skills have to be updated. Jobs move overseas. The new boss may not like you. Even if your intentions are good...someone may take it wrong...and accuse you of trying to interfere. So, what is a person to do?

In my experience, I've been blessed with many people in my life who have been worthy of trust. They are not perfect people, but their hearts are pure. But the only one who has not let me down is God. Sometimes I've thought that He has...and sometimes I've disagreed with him vehemently...but I know that He is there and that He is real.

We can put our faith in that knowledge. And we can do our best to prudently trust ourselves and those around us. We have to remember that we will sometimes have to forgive other people...and they will have to sometimes figure out how to forgive us. And in is built.

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