Several seemingly disparate things came together this weekend, and they all got me thinking about Trust – and Shame.
1) First, before the weekend, I’d been thinking it was time to write another blog post about Psalms.
I’ve written a book called Praying with the Psalmists, and I’m trying to find an agent and/or publisher. In the book, I show people ten types of Psalms and how we can write our own psalms for prayer.
I’d love to end up with a website where people can post the psalms they’ve written. So why not start with blog posts? I’m trying to increase my blogging in order to build a platform — and in my Praying with the Psalmists posts, I would love for people to post their own psalms in the comments.
But now I’ve finished going through the book with my small group, so what type of psalm should I try to post? I decided my next post would be about Psalms of Trust.
I am going through a relatively stable time in my life. I don’t feel the need to write a lament. I don’t currently have a big deliverance story to put in a psalm of thanksgiving. However, I’m feeling a little unfocused, a little frustrated with the day-to-day trying to get things done and not getting enough sleep and having occasional odd health issues and just feeling a little out of sorts. So a psalm of trust might help me focus. (We’ll come back to this.)
2) Last Tuesday, I wrote a blog post about the terrible AI-produced children’s book I mistakenly purchased for the library and had to take out of processing so that it would not go on library shelves. This weekend, it got lots of attention, because on Thursday Betsy Bird, a librarian who writes for School Library Journal read it and tweeted about it. She said, “It begins. Librarians, warn your selectors. AI is making its way into our libraries by sneaky means.
@Sonderbooks has the scoop:” I’m not talking going viral, but as of Sunday evening, her tweet linking to my blog post has 24.7K Views, 108 Likes, 62 Retweets, 17 Quotes, and 18 Bookmarks. Which is a lot more than my tweets usually get.
3) At the same time, I read a tweet on AskAubrey, whose Twitter feed I’m unduly fascinated with and always shows up at the top of my “For You” Tab, showing terrible posts by men on dating sites or Reddit. The one I saw Saturday morning was posted by a woman. Her husband is obviously cheating on her with the “friend” he’s “renting” a room to. But she still believes him that they are exclusive. People are mocking her cluelessness, and I felt compelled to respond like this:
Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. I believed my ex-husband, too, when he told me he wasn’t having an affair with the woman he’d gone to watch movies with at midnight. He’s lying to you. You’re a trusting person, and he has exploited that. The shame is his.
By the next day, this tweet has gotten 14.5K Views, 158 Likes, and 2 Bookmarks. One reply said, “Glad I wasn’t the only one.”
4) Most of the responses to Betsy’s tweet have been positive. Well, aside from the shock and horror that such a book got published. But one library selector responded that this isn’t “sneaky” at all, and if we do an actual good job with collection development, we won’t let such things get past us.
And that response revived my shame.
But it also made me realize how the two popular tweets were similar.
In both cases, I should not have trusted, but I did.
In both cases, there were red flags, but I trusted anyway.
In both cases, I felt deep shame for trusting.
Let’s start with the trivial case: I ordered a truly terrible children’s nonfiction book about rabbits. It was masquerading as a series nonfiction book from a publisher that had more than 500 titles listed on our vendor’s website. But there were red flags, and I truly should not have ordered it. And I think of myself as a very good youth materials selector for the library – but trusting that particular publisher (“Bold Kids”) was a truly bad decision, it turned out. And I was deeply ashamed.
It took about a day for me to even talk about it. (It helped tremendously, I’m afraid, that another selector whom I respect fell for another one of their books at the same time.) But when I acknowledge that I am not perfect and I did, in fact, make a mistake — then my reaction is: Wait a second, who’s the one who should be ashamed here? “Bold Kids” is a scammer masquerading as a publishing company, and they are the ones who deserve the shame.
5) And that made me think of scammers on dating sites. When I first started trying online dating, I allowed a couple of men to email me off the site — and they turned out to be scammers. (Here are a couple of posts I wrote later about some tips for spotting them.)
When my friend helped me figure out one of those guys emailing me was a scammer, I hadn’t sent the scammer any money — but I felt very stupid and ashamed. And it left me feeling foolish for getting my hopes up. Did the scammers think I was so desperate that I’d fall for them? Who was I to think that anyone but a scammer would be interested in me?
So yes, even though they did not get my money, they did harm.
But going back to shame: Who should be ashamed of that? Not me! Shame on the scammers for preying on people’s trust.
And that brings me back to my ex-husband.
I was deeply ashamed when I found out he was actually having an affair.
But that’s backwards. Ashamed of trusting my husband?!?! He looked me in the eye and told me, “I’m not having an affair.” Twice!
We’d been married 18 years at the time, and I didn’t know of any reason not to trust him.
But I am not the one who should be ashamed. He is the one who should be ashamed of breaking my trust.
Now, I am the first to admit that I’m a naive and trusting person. That ties in with another thread:
6) I recently watched the “Shiny Happy People” documentary series and wrote a blog series in reaction, “Shiny Happy Childhood.” I think that authoritarian organizations like Bill Gothard’s seminars put lots of emphasis on trusting and obeying authority. I grew up in that, and I am a very trusting person.
However, I don’t believe that trust is a bad thing!
After all, I never intentionally lied to my ex-husband — so that’s a big part of why I didn’t suspect him of lying to me. I’ve grown up around a lot of good people, so I tend to think of people as good-hearted.
But it all depends on where you place your trust.
And when it turns out that we put our trust in a bad place, our first reaction is shame — when they are the one who should be ashamed.
7) As if those Twitter threads weren’t enough, yesterday morning I hit this daily reading in Melody Beattie’s book The Language of Letting Go, titled “Learning to Trust Again”:
Many of us have trust issues.
Some of us tried long and hard to trust untrustworthy people. Over and again, we believed lies and promises never to be kept. Some of us tried to trust people for the impossible; for instance, trusting a practicing alcoholic not to drink again.
Some of us trusted our Higher Power inappropriately. We trusted God to make other people do what we wanted, then felt betrayed when that didn’t work out….
[I for sure did that for years, praying that God would bring my husband back to me. I finally realized that I wasn’t really trusting God — I was telling God what should happen and gritting my teeth to believe it would, like a magic vending machine — instead of trusting that whatever God allowed to happen, God would be with me and would bring good even out of a bad situation.]
Most of us were taught, inappropriately, that we couldn’t trust ourselves.
The reading goes on to say that yes, we can learn to trust appropriately – trusting myself, God, and others. We are not foolish to trust, but we may need help with it.
8) And then today I was reading in Katie Porter’s book I Swear and saw this point in her “Guide to Consumer Protection”:
Never feel ashamed.
They cheated YOU! They are the bad guys. Would you report a burglary? It’s no different when a company rips you off. Expect them to make it right.
So Yes! I will resist being ashamed of falling for the scam that Bold Kids “publisher” is running. They are the ones who should be ashamed!
9) But coming back around to Psalms of Trust:
In my book, I put 21 Psalms in that category, so they are a big part of the Psalms. And one of the key concepts I found in the Psalms of Trust is Vindication. I used vindication as a positive way of saying the prayer that comes up again and again, “Let me not be put to shame.”
When we place our trust badly, the natural reaction is to feel shame.
And may I trust the Lord in such a way that I will not be ashamed. Because the Lord is good, and God’s love endures forever, and God’s faithfulness continues through all generations.
So, after all those musings, let me try to pray a short psalm of trust:
Lord my God, I trust in you;
let me not be put to shame.
Teach me to trust truly
rather than trying to control.
Take away my shame for being imperfect
and give me grace to warn others
and learn from my mistakes.
Grant me rest
as I trust that I am doing enough.
And I give you my endeavors:
My work at my dream job,
my reading for award committees.
Let me trust that it’s not all up to me,
that you love me as the person you made me
and my value doesn’t come from what I do.
There. A hodgepodge of thoughts about Trust and Shame. Does that bring up any thoughts for you? I’d love comments — don’t worry if they go off on tangents, because this sure did.