When Knox arrived a year ago, my other three little guys experienced chaos and upheaval. For a solid 6 months (2 months before the birth, at least 4 months after) stood a tired and highly emotional mom.

Our relationships suffered. My boys just didn’t trust me. Eyes questioned my harsh tone. Bodies leaned away from my reach. They didn’t believe I had their best interest in mind.

Fortunately I’ve spent the last year rebuilding that trust. But it’s taken a focused effort. More patience and understanding on my part.

This process of rebuilding trust all made more sense when I recently read, “Horse Sense for People” by the Horse Whisperer (Monty Roberts). This man trains horses in an unconventional way. He does not use harsh methods. Instead he develops a trusting relationship with the horse and establishes he is not a threat to the horse. Then he proceeds with training.

He learned horses are fight or flight animals. “To saddle a horse, for example, is to provoke the sense that he is being attacked by a predator and this leads him to act in self-defense.” Traditional trainers keep the horse chained up and then whip him when he attacks or tries to get away. They work from the principle, “You do what I tell you, or I’ll hurt you.”

The Horse Whisperer realized he had to communicate to the horses they could trust him, and he had to earn that trust. He found he could help the horse to discover the joys of working together, all without coercion and pain.

Even though my boys aren’t animals (a fact hard to believe sometimes), there is something to be learned from the Horse Whisperer’s insight. By establishing trust, my boys learn the joy of partnership and working together. They are more willing to accept discipline because they know I have their best interest in mind (not just for my comfort & convenience).

Isn’t that the approach God takes with us? Our entire relationship with God begins with faith (or trust). A faith He does not force upon us. We are given the free will to believe in the existence of God, to believe He loves us, to believe He sent His son to die for us.

He does not force us into obedience. He provides rules (laws) for our own benefit, safety and blessing. He desires a relationship with us. Not only a relationship, but a healthy, loving, growing relationship.

Jesus approached the disciples the same way. He did not force them to follow him but proved himself loving and trustworthy. Once they viewed him as a Rabbi/leader/teacher, he trained and corrected them. Take the calling of Simon Peter:

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

(Luke 5:4,5,10,11)

Do you feel like your kids trust you? How do you help foster a trusting relationship in your home? 

*As I was processing this concept of trust, my son brought home the book “Lass” by Roland Gebauer. This story is about a man who gains the trust of a wild sheepdog, trains him how to herd sheep, and the dog ends up saving a single lost sheep. A great story to read with your kids about God’s redemptive work in our lives.