Looking at a Throwback-Thursday picture of my fourth grade class, a wave of memories splashed over me—childhood friends, the games we’d play at recess, the subjects we studied, the annoying kids in class, the teachers I had. My classroom teacher had an exceptional smile on her face. She treated all of us—even the troublemakers—with kindness. She must have loved us equally.
But as I let my mind wander the halls of Livingston Park School, other memories walked by as clear as the passing of students between classes. Memories of being trusted to do things that few other students were asked to do. For example, I was a safety patrol who monitored the halls in the morning as students entered the building—I even wore a special shoulder harness that distinguished me from the others. I was also asked to help the teacher with the audio-visual equipment whenever we saw a film (back then we had film projectors with reel-to-reel tape that had to be threaded through the machine in a precise way.) I would always get my classwork done early and so, received the privilege of working on one of the giant social studies murals set up in the hallway, unsupervised, while most of the remaining students had to stay in class.
In each case I was trusted to do things that others never got a chance to do. I don’t remember comparing myself to them, thinking I was better than they were. But I do remember feeling honored in being the one picked, and I recall them as opportunities of great responsibility.
While my classroom teacher may have loved everyone, she could trust only a few of us with some of those important tasks. And while I felt good about being loved, I felt better about being trusted. I saw myself as useful and needed because I was trusted. That made quite a difference in my formative years and it still resonates with me as an adult today.
Being loved and being trusted—what is the difference?
Being loved is like being spiritually and emotionally nourished. When we are loved by someone, we feel safe and secure in our relationship with that person. We are strengthened by that love, and we in turn can radiate love to others. We grow in confidence, we are quick to seek forgiveness, and we are more willing to try again in all of our efforts. Being loved is a reflection on the giver—we are worth loving by virtue of who we are.
To be trusted is a special kind of love. To be trusted is a reaction of another person’s feelings of love for us. It stems first from love, but over time it is based on that person’s observation of our dependability and faithfulness. It means another person has seen us exhibit a level of honesty and responsibility that rises above the ordinary. Reaching that level earns us higher responsibilities and expectations. When my teacher taught me to work the film projector, she was not only teaching me a task, she was saying, “I trust you with this equipment. I trust you to do a good job. You’ve earned that trust because of how I’ve seen you deal with other tasks up to this point.” The message I received was that I was trustworthy—she noticed I was the kind of person who listened well, stayed on course, learned well, and didn’t shirk my duties.
Godly Love vs. Godly Trust
Our Father in Heaven loves all of his children. We’ve read about that love in the scriptures. We’ve witnessed that kind of love daily as he showers us with blessings. His willingness to forgive us and bless us is a reflection of that love. He cannot help but love us—we are his precious children. No matter what we do, we will always be encircled in the arms of his love. We can trust him on this. But how do we know if He can trust us? By our willingness to keep the commandments. How does he reward that trust? Through promptings from the Holy Ghost.
Keeping the commandments shows God we are trustworthy.
When we keep the commandments of God we are blessed. This included the commandment to repent. No one can keep every commandment perfectly, but we can sincerely repent on a regular basis. The act of doing all we can—not all someone else can, or all there is—but all we are able to do with the limitations of our unique frailties, is the way we show our Father in Heaven that we love Him. We are not expected to run faster than we can handle or do more than we are able. He wants us to show Him we love him by keeping his commandments.
Receiving promptings shows us that God can trust us.
Did you ever have a feeling to call someone out of the blue, only to find out they were experiencing a need that your phone call happened to fulfill? I’ve heard stories such as this dozens of times, where people were prompted to do or say something they had not intended to do, which turned out to be a blessing to others. This is how God shows us he trusts us. Promptings to perform acts of kindness come directly from heaven. God sends them to those whom he trusts, because he knows they are the ones who are listening. He knows they will act upon the prompt.
I can testify that there have been times when I have been so good at daily prayer, daily scripture study, and serving faithfully in my callings in church and with my family, I was receiving promptings on a regular basis from God to perform acts of service. I knew God trusted me to act and it was like riding a genuine spiritual high to be trusted like this.
Likewise, there have been times when I have felt void of such promptings—times when I neglected my duties, or maybe didn’t perform them as well, or times when I was struggling so much with my own problems, I was unable to notice the needs of others. In reflecting on these times, I had wondered, “Does God not trust me anymore? Am I of no use to him? Does he hold a grudge against me for not being on my game?” My answers came during personal prayer.
Trust God’s desire to trust you.
God sees more than we see. God knows our needs and our capabilities and he is willing to work with the flaws we come with. While we may not always feel useful to him, we are incredibly useful in ways we don’t even recognize. We follow promptings to serve others more often than we realize—we simply don’t see it in every case. But God knows.
Sometimes God needs others to receive promptings and to be trusted, while we play the role of the ones in need. How else can others fulfill their role of being trusted if we show no signs of need? Life is a series of giving and receiving. When we allow others to help us, we are allowing them to be trusted with prompting to do God’s service.
God trusts all of his children, and he manifests that trust whether we are aware of it or not. The more we strive to keep His commandments, the more open to the spirit we will be. The more open we are, the more we can be an instrument of good in His hands. We must have faith in His trust just as we have faith in His love.
God loves me, but more importantly, God trusts me. To be trusted by God means he loves me enough to allow his miracles to work through me. It makes me feel I am of good use to Him and to my fellow man.
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.