Snowballs of Trust

If you ever wanted to understand how trust works, here you go!

I’ve determined that trust is a snowball.

More precisely, when you give people any amount of trust, you give them one of your own personal snowballs of trust. And, in turn, they give you one of their personal snowballs of trust. So then you each have one of the other person’s snowballs of trust.

Confusing?

Yeah, I know. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

1) Usually, you give someone a snowball of trust as soon as you meet them. Yes, I know, why would you trust anyone as soon as you meet them? Shouldn’t you get to know the person first?

Well, in order to let the person get to know you to any extent, you have to give them some amount of trust, right?

So, the moment you meet someone, you give them a snowball of trust.

There are, of course, some exceptions (as there always are), but generally this rule holds.

2) The snowball you give them can come in a variety of sizes, depending on who you are and who (you think) they are.

For example, I generally give everyone an apple-sized snowball of trust when I meet them. Give them something to work with, you know?

(Note that I actually have trouble trusting people, which you might think conflicts with my previous statement. Continue reading, you’ll understand somewhat by number 4, entirely by number 7.)

3) The snowball you give them can also come in a variety of shapes (spheres, cubes, pyramids, dodecahedrons, etc.), colors (white, black, purple, rainbow, clear, etc.), and even materials, though most people stick to the usual snow.

Though I do know someone who gives rubber snowballs… They’re very hard to work with, and I’m still trying to figure out how to work with mine.

Anyway, I personally usually stick to a regular white sphere made of snow, though I have varied the shape on occasion, and maybe even the color once or twice to see what would happen.

4) You may also choose to vary the conditions in which someone can build up the snowball in order to make it more difficult to build up trust.

This is one way that I deal with my trouble with trust. You see, there are dozens of weather conditions that you can face people with while trying to build up your snow(wo)man. You can give people sticking snow, of course, but you can also give them non-sticking snow, ice, force them to work in a blizzard, increase the temperature, decrease the temperature, whatever.

It may seem rude to make it so difficult to build up the snowball, but this is your trust we’re talking about. If they’re willing to fight through a blizzard in order to build up your trust, then you can be certain that you can trust them.

5) You don’t always necessarily give someone the snowball. Generally, you give someone the snowball and they accept it graciously because manners, but there are other ways to go about the snowball exchange.

The friend that I discussed this with said that one of her best friends from high school basically just stole one of her snowballs and went crazy building it up.

On occasion, I choose to throw one of my personal snowballs at someone. It’s a bit of a risky move, of course, as they then have to take the time to gather up the snow bits covering them, but if it works out, they usually end up being one of your closest friends.

6) The ultimate goal is to build a snow(wo)man, which generally means building up three or more snowballs of trust and stacking them on top of each other as you would with a snow(wo)man.

This can be interpreted many ways. Perhaps you and the other person each build up the other’s snowball of trust, then you build one up together and stack them into a snow(wo)man.

Or, perhaps, you each have layers of trust, and you must build up one snowball for each layer, and you each end up with separate snow(wo)men of trust (or perhaps a very large combined snow(wo)man of trust).

Or perhaps you work together on each snowball that you add to the snow(wo)man, or perhaps you go through some other process entirely. Honestly, this part of the process varies the most between relationships.

7) You may choose to throw some sludge in while someone is trying to build up your snowball. Or you might accidentally kick some sludge in. Or someone else might throw the sludge in without your consent.

However it works out, the person you’ve given a snowball of trust may be forced to work with sludge. This generally leads to two possible outcomes: either they give up on making the snow(wo)man because now the snow’s ugly and it’ll never look good enough, or they’ll continue building the snow(wo)man regardless of how it might look in the end.

Now, remember how I said I have trouble trusting earlier? And that messing with the conditions is just one of the ways that I deal with my trouble with trust?

The primary way I deal with it is by throwing sludge into the mix. Sometimes, I do it intentionally. Sometimes, it’s entirely unintentional.

(I have a very good example of this, but you’ll have to read through to the end to see it.)

8) Some people won’t ever even try to build up the snowball. You’ll meet hundreds up people throughout your life, and they’ll all meet hundreds of people throughout their lives, and you can’t build up everyone’s snowballs of trust, and not everyone can build up yours.

Sometimes it’s because they don’t care, sometimes they don’t have times, sometimes they have more friends then they can count, sometimes they just can’t. There are a variety of reasons why someone might not build up the snowball you give them, or you might not build up theirs.

(The important thing to remember is that this all goes both ways. Not only do you give someone a snowball of trust, but they also give you a snowball of trust.)

If someone just tosses away your snowball of trust, don’t be upset. It’s okay. You can’t build a snow(wo)man with everyone. Just focus on building snow(wo)man with the people who want to. They’ll be enough, I promise.

9) Sometimes, people will build a giant snow(wo)man with you, then tear it down. It happens, and it hurts. Of course it does! When someone puts so much time and effort into building up your snowball of trust, manages to build a freaking snow(wo)man of trust, then goes and tears it down?

Not only does it not make sense (because why would someone spend that much time and effort just to tear it all down?), but it hurts because you let them.

Everyone goes through this. I went through it at least three times with the same person. I gave her a snowball of trust, but I was desperate for a friend and I made it far to easy for her to build it up, gave her perfect conditions to build the snow(wo)man.

When she tore it down, I was upset, but then she apologized and asked to try again, and I was all too happy to let her. She built the second one even faster, having had practice with the first, and it ended up being even bigger and better than the first.

The second time she tore it down, I wasn’t as quick to forgive. It took quite a bit of convincing before I gave her a third chance, but that time, the conditions weren’t nearly as good and she struggled in building the snow(wo)man. That time, she eventually just gave up and left the snow(wo)man unfinished.

The important thing to remember is, when you go through a situation where someone tears a snow(wo)man down, you aren’t alone. Look around you. Look at all the other snow(wo)man people have built from your snowballs of trust. No matter how much it hurts, you’re never alone.

10) Every situation where a snow(wo)man is built is different, and sometimes the strangest situations build the best of friends.

For example, I did not make it easy for my best friend to build up my trust. From the very beginning, it was crazy. Rather than exchanging snowballs, we started off with a snowball fight. Then, when we finally settled down and agreed to actually exchange snowballs, I gave her a stella octangula.

When she asked what she was supposed to do with it, I responded that she was supposed to roll it. So, after first rolling her eyes, she complied.

She didn’t make it far before I threw some sludge into the mix. She glared at me and asked, quite simply, why? And I just told her to keep going, and after a few more moments of glaring, she complied.

I continued throwing sludge into the mix every once in a while, and every time, she would glare at me before continuing in her attempt to build a snow(wo)man. Of course, seeing as she was working with such a strange shape, it wasn’t an easy task.

Then a terrible and unexpected thing happened in my life (which I explained in my post “The Darkest Night: The Essay“) and I found myself chucking a whole pile of sludge at her because I honestly didn’t know what else to do.

I’d never done something like that before, actually, and I can’t tell you why exactly I did it for her. You see, sludge can be a tricky thing. I use it often to test whether I can truly trust people or not, but I only use small amounts of it. There generally already has to be a snow(wo)man present for me to chuck even a handful of sludge into the mix.

But with my best friend, I chucked a whole bucketful of sludge into the mix before she’d even finished building up the first snowball.

I don’t know what I was thinking. I don’t know what I was expecting. And I definitely don’t know what I would have done if she had just given up then and there.

But she didn’t leave. Instead, she did something absolutely insane. She used the giant amount of sludge to fill in the gaps of the stella octangula I had given her, and when she was finished, she had a nasty, dirty sphere to work with.

And she built a snow(wo)man out of it. The biggest snow(wo)man anyone had ever built out of my snowballs of trust.

Since then, we’ve started building snow(wo)man together just for fun, then blowtorching them because why not? But we’ve never torched the original sludgy snow(wo)man. Honestly, I think it’s the most brilliant snow(wo)man I’ve ever seen.

 

And that’s basically how it goes. This is the easiest way to understand how other people trust. The more you understand, the stronger your relationships can be.

 

 

A Miracle in My Life

Do you believe in miracles?

image

Miracles are real.

I know many people don’t believe in them, and I understand why. It’s nerve-wracking to try to believe in something so unknown, something that can’t be controlled. It’s overwhelming to believe that a situation can turn from one end of a spectrum to the other in the blink of an eye.

It’s scary to believe in the impossible.

But I’ve seen proof that miracles are real. At many points throughout my life, I watched as my family and friends fought to be strong when it seemed there was no strength left, and I watched as they wept when they thought I wasn’t watching. They believed I would fall apart if I saw them falling apart, and, being the youngest in the family, they had to be strong for me.

I’ve always let them do this because I know it will help them be strong if they have someone to be strong for. However, in every instance, the moment I was alone, I knelt down and prayed.

I prayed that the situation would turn out okay in the end, that things would happen the way God planned them to. I prayed that my friends and family would find strength in Him, and that He’d help them find peace no matter what became of the situation. Sometimes, I asked Him to save whoever it was who needed the miracle, but usually I just asked Him to give me strength to deal with the outcome. I trusted Him, and I trusted that he would do things His way, and I trusted that His way would always be the best way.

So why am I saying all of this?

Because, my friends, I recently watched an impossible miracle unfold in a person very near to me, and I just don’t understand how people can deny it being a miracle.

You see, in early March, I was talking to my mom late at night, when she said she needed to call my brother at Purdue and tell us something very important. My brother answered, and we cheerily asked what she needed to tell us.

Neither of us expected her to bring up my dad’s recent skin care check up, nor did we expect her to tell us that the doctor found a dime-sized grayish-brown spot on the roof of his mouth.

Melanoma, she told us.

And not just one of the small cases he usually got from visiting Florida and spending too much time in the sun. No, the doctor had already said that it was one of the worst cases he’d seen, and they’d have to do a biopsy on it. Maybe more… But they’d talk more about it when the time came.

The biopsy was to occur on March 31st. The doctor had wanted to do it sooner, but my dad was determined to go on his mission trip and wanted to make sure he could help us move to our new house as soon as he got back. And, of course, he wanted me to be able to enjoy my senior year Spring break before having the surgery, just in case it didn’t go well.

My mom asked us to pray for him, but stayed away from the details. My brother and I were careful not to sound upset or ask too many questions, because she already looked and sounded like she was on the verge of tears. It was one of those silent agreements. My mom could think she was being strong for us, but in truth, we would be strong for her.

I went up to my room after that, plopped down on my bed, and prayed. I don’t know how long I prayed. I just started talking to God, asking Him to give me strength, to give my mom strength, to give me guidance and acceptance. For a bit, I talked about what I thought life might be like without my dad, and I started crying and begged God not to take him from me. Then I calmed down and told Him that I trusted Him and if He took my dad from me, I would be strong because everything happens for a reason. I’d grow stronger and things would turn out okay.

Eventually, I felt more at peace with the whole situation. I thanked God for listening and always being there for me, praised Him for the way He’s moved in my life and the great things He’s done, and went to bed.

I actually forgot about it within a couple of weeks. I lost track of time and got completely caught up in practicing. It wasn’t until I got home from guard this past Thursday that it came up again.

I was sitting in my room, reading and minding my own business, when my mom came in with a big grin. I immediately tensed up, not knowing what to expect. My mom sat down on the bed next to me and rolled her eyes at my reaction before asking if my dad had told me the good news.

I was confused. What good news? What could the good news be about? She looked like she was just barely keeping herself from jumping up and down, so I was just a bit worried about what it could be (why I always worry when someone looks that happy, I have no clue. I’m just very defensive).

She took a deep breath and told me my dad had gone to the doctor’s office today (I figure it was probably the hospital, but she knew from past experience that I would freak out if she told me my dad had gone to the hospital, so she went with the other term), and I immediately remembered our past conversation. March 31st. It was March 31st. And if she looked so happy…

My mom explained to me that the doctors had already hooked my dad up to the IV and were ready to give him the anasthesia when they double checked for the spot in his mouth.

They were shocked to find it completely gone.

They pulled out the pictures they’d taken of the spot, double checked his mouth multpile times, did a full examination to see if it had moved, but it hadn’t. They had picture proof that it had been there, that the doctor who had examined him originally hadn’t been seeing things. But the spot was no longer there.

The doctor who had origianlly made the diagnosis was completely overwhelmed. He said he’d been worrying about my dad ever since making the diagnosis, told him it was the worst case of melanoma he’d seen in a long time. He said he’d been nearly certain that the biopsy wouldn’t be enough and was worried they’d have to go into the bone, which would be much worse.

He stated quite clearly that things like that don’t happen. Melanoma that bad doesn’t just disappear. It was impossible.

He looked at my dad dead in the eyes and said, “This is a miracle.”

My mom told me all of this, and all I could do was shake my head in awe. My dad accepted it readily with little surprise. My mom didn’t even question it, as she was overcome with relief. I don’t know if my brother accepted it, or if he’s still in denial because it’s just so impossible, but I get the feeling he’s having trouble wrapping his head around it.

As for me, I’m amazed and awestruck, but not surprised in the least. Like I said before, I trust God with all my heart. I don’t know how or why. Usually I have trouble trusting, but not with Him. Maybe it’s the childish innocence that makes up a great portion of my soul. Maybe it’s because I already have more than enough proof that I can trust Him.

Whatever the reason, I knew things would turn out okay in the end. I can’t say I expected exactly what happened, but I must have subconciously expected something along those lines because I felt very little actual surprise. Rather, all I felt was joy and awe and the same wonder I always feel in these situations.

Miracles are real. This right here is the greatest proof I have ever seen. The impossible just became possible. Disaster has been averted. I’ve been given more time to spend with my dad.

Miracles are real. The proof is right in front of you.

All you have to do is believe.


 

Picture source: crosswalk.com

In the Matter of a Second: My Brother

A story of trust.

It only takes a moment, a split second decision, to build something… or destroy everything.

When I was young, I had faith in everything and everyone. I trusted unquestioningly, devoted myself to people without a thought.

When I was young, my friends would always be there, my brother would always protect me, my parents would never let me down.

When I was young, I was innocent and naïve, and my smile was never fake.

But now, I have trouble trusting. I never let people see me, not without a fight. They see me through windows, imagining they have a view of everything, but only seeing fragments. They see a completed painting, not realizing it was cut down to fit the frame.

My brother lost my trust first. We moved for the umpteenth time, and I found myself in a new house and a new neighborhood in the middle of the school year. I was shy, so I stuck to my brother as we stood at the bus stop that first morning, believing naïvely that he would never let me down.

It only took a minute for someone to ask if I was his sister. I can understand where the question came from. We were polar opposites. He was tall, had bleach blonde hair, and spoke like he owned the world. I still hadn’t hit my growth spurt, had dark hair, and did my best to hide in my brother’s shadow. Even our eyes were completely different shades of brown.

I started to answer, started to speak a soft but proud “Of course!” when he said, “Her? No, she’s not my sister.”

And my heart shattered. I stared at him with wide eyes, but he didn’t spare me even the smallest glance. He just went on chatting and laughing.

I tried to find a way to trust him again, but he never gave me a chance. Every day that followed, he acted as if I didn’t exist, and they followed along. I gave him plenty of chances at redemption in the following years, but he never took them. He didn’t want them.

And so I stopped trying. Every day that followed, I stood there silently, staring at the street, waiting for the bus that could never come fast enough. He never noticed, never cared.

That day, the first piece of my unwavoring smile became fake.

image