I find it hard to believe that glass is stronger than steel. Yet that is the scientific truth according to a science program I saw the other day. Glass has more tensile strength than steel. But my experience is that steel seems so much stronger. I have broken glass by hitting a window with a baseball but that same baseball bounced off a car parked along the street. I have broken glass but rarely have broken steel. Yet the reality is that glass has more strength than steel.
Then it occurred to me that trust is like glass. There is great strength that can be found in trust. It is a strong foundation for friendship, marriage and family relationships. With trust we can navigate all manner of difficult situations. But trust can very easily be broken. It only takes an action, a word, a situation, a betrayal… and once broken it takes lots of time and energy to restore to a state of strength again – if it can be restored at all.
Trust is something that is earned – not something that is a right or a given in any relationship. And where a bond of trust has been broken in one’s life it brings other bonds of trust into question as well. Once broken it takes many small steps to rebuild that tensile strength to a point where one is comfortable trusting again.
The truth is that because of our humanity and its imperfections we will disappoint everyone in some way, at one time or another. So it is important for us to make sure we remain trustworthy. The strength we rely on in our friendships, community and family relationships is built on that strong but fragile foundation which we imperil to our detriment.