Rebuilding Trust

(The Flower Vase Metaphor)

Trust can be easily broken. It is hard to repair. The best way to have lots of trust from someone else is to never break trust with them. This is no guarantee that trust will not be stressed. Trust is the volitional dependence upon consistency. As we interact with another person, trust grows in a positive direction as long as there is consistency in the interactions.

What if trust does break? What if one or both people in the relationship does something inconsistent and there develops a fracturing or loss of trust? Then trust must be repaired or the relationship will suffer until it dies. No relationship can survive in a healthy way without trust being in good condition. So trust must be repaired. How do you rebuild trust?

VaseConsider this metaphor for trust. Trust is like a simple, clear crystal vase. The vase is for what? It is for holding flowers. Consider flowers the produce of the relationship. People do not buy vases just to look at them. They buy vases to put flowers in them. Vases have purpose and so does trust. Trust keeps the relationship healthy while members of the relationship are away from each other. Just like a vase will keep flowers healthy while away from the garden. The garden is the area where the flowers are grown. The similar area of our relationships is the work we do together with common purposefulness for each other with each other.

If the vase and the flowers where knocked over by neglect/careless or violence, it will break. Sometimes in a relationship, there are times of disinterest, times of anger, times of frustration, etc. and these all break the vase and slow down the produce of the garden. If the vase is broken, do not despair. The garden is not destroyed because the vase is broken. Flowers can still be produced. There will be no display of the flowers for a while.

Vase BokenWhen the vase is broken, the flowers must be put in temporary place like a pot. Both members of the relationship must agree together to repair the vase. It matters not who broke it at this point, both must want to repair the vase or neither will see the relationship survive. As both agree, they begin to pick up all the pieces of the vase and carefully dry them off and place them so that all the pieces can be seen. Then, one by one, starting with the base, the pieces are glued back together. Both members look at the assembled parts and both search for the next piece to put back in. The tools for rebuilding are confession, repentance, forgiveness, and accountability. Both members of the relationship must take these tools seriously and learn to use them with grace and compassion for the other. If only one person does the work, the vase is not being repaired. The pieces are just being stacked one upon another. The vase will only look repaired and the vase will eventually crumble. The togetherness in the repair is the glue that bonds the pieces together.

Vase RepairedFinally all the pieces are glued back in. What do you do next? No! You don’t put the flowers back in yet. You put water in the vase and leak test it. If there is a leak, then poor out the rest of the water and dry the vase and patch the leak from the inside. Test the vase again. Repair all leaks this way until the vase will hold water. Sometimes this is a lengthy process with lots of chances for despair. As long as both members are working to stop all leaks, the process is working. Eventually there will be no more leaks.

Now the vase is ready for warm water, an aspirin and flowers.

As you replace the flowers that were in the vase you notice there is a great difference. First there are less flowers because some died while repair was under way. This is unavoidable. Second, the vase has a lot of little hairline cracks all along the sides. These are the repairs that will remind you to keep consistent. The cracks tend to be unsightly and there is a solution for this unsightliness. More flowers! The more flowers you put in the vase the less the cracks show. The produce of the relationship must be diligently cultivated and harvested so the cracks no longer bother either person. Remember, the vase is for the flower display. Trust is for display of the work of the marriage when the two people are not with each other. Working the flower garden is the work of the relationship. The together nature of the work gives you more to display and appreciate. Tend the garden and grow more.

Flower Garden

See more on these pages.

Trust - Trust Levels - Anger