“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” – George MacDonald

“We all stumble in many ways.”– Bible

Joe was your average sort of guy. He was married, had three children and worked hard to provide for his family. He went to church with his family and tried to be involved in his children’s activities as much as possible.

Janice, Joe’s wife, respected her husband. She not only respected him, but she also trusted him.

Joe knew how his wife felt, and sometimes that worried him. He wasn’t sure he could live up to her trust. He made mistakes. Sometimes it was in the area of finances. Some of his investments weren’t the most lucrative things going. And once in a while he would spend a little too much on his fishing equipment.

More to the point, however, he had the typical male tendency to enjoy looking at pretty women. He tried never to look at them more than once and then not for very long.

But once in a while he would stumble on a website that had pornography. Joe would quickly close the website, but even those few seconds of viewing implanted on image on his mind that took a while to shake.

Should he tell his wife about these occurrences? He decided not to; they were accidental events and he believed he had reacted properly.

Joe did wonder from time to time, though, what Janice would do if he messed up in a serious way. With finances, he figured she probably would be upset but would understand and forgive him.

What if he had a moral failure? What would she do? Would he lose her trust – and maybe her respect as well?

So he decided to talk to Janice about this subject.

“Janice, could we have a talk after the kids are in bed?” Janice wondered at his seriousness as he asked the question but said “Sure, I’m at your service.”

Later that evening, Joe and Janice positioned themselves comfortably together on the couch and Joe popped the question.

“Janice, you’ve told me and shown me that you respect me and trust me, and I really appreciate that. I want to do my part in loving you and making you feel secure in our relationship. What would your reaction be if you found out I maybe didn’t always deserve your respect – or trust?”

Janice’s immediate reaction was obviously one of concern. “Joe, are you trying to tell me something?”

Joe caught her feeling. “I’m not preparing to reveal any serious failure on my part. I just want to know what your respect and trust is based upon. Sometimes I feel like I can’t live up to your expectations. Seems like it would almost be easier to go ahead and have some serious letdown to take the pressure off.”

Fortunately for Joe, Janice had more wisdom than he was giving her credit for.

“Joe, I respect you because that’s the right thing for me to do. You make it easier because I know you are working at being a good husband and father. Trust is a little more difficult because it has to be earned. The Bible says no ‘man’ is to be trusted. We must put our trust in God alone.

“So my trust for you includes forgiveness, and it includes boundaries. When you mess up, and I know you will – we all do – then I must work at forgiving. I must do this even if you don’t confess and repent, although your actions could make forgiveness a lot easier.

“The boundaries are established to help us keep our behavior in line with a correct set of values, kind of like the Ten Commandments.

“Because of the character I see in you, my trust for you has very wide boundaries. If a fall were to occur – on the part of either of us, for that matter – the boundaries may shrink.

“However, one thing will never disappear, and that is my unconditional love for you.”

The Family and Marriage Coalition of Aiken, Inc. (FAMCO) provides resources for you to succeed in your marriage and families. Roger Rollins, Executive Director, FAMCO, 640-4689, rogerrollins@aikenfamco.com, www.aikenfamco.com.