How Psalm 51 helped me rebuild trust

Photo by Sarah Geringer
Photo by Sarah Geringer

A few years ago I struggled with a thought-life problem about someone from my past. I hunted details online and became preoccupied with a slew of “What if…” questions. Certain songs brought up old memories and new regrets. Before long I daydreamed about him on a near-daily basis. I knew this whole thing was wrong as a married woman, even though I wasn’t in contact with him. I went to the scriptures to come clean with God.
That morning my daily reading was Psalm 51. These words jumped out as if handwritten for me:
Against you, you only, have I sinned
   and done what is evil in your sight.
I asked God, “I know my sin is truly against you in this thought-battle, Lord, but please, will you show me the root? Why can’t I stop thinking about this person?”
The Holy Spirit spoke tenderly to my heart and granted me special insight: The root of my problem was that I always looked to men’s attention for validation.
Scenes flashed through my mind…clerks, delivery men, waiters, acquaintances, pure strangers. If they were male, I subconsciously questioned their appraisal of me. Does he think I’m smart? Does he think I’m pretty? Does he think I’m sweet? Always, always searching…that was my struggle.
John Eldredge writes to men in Wild at Heart:

The deep cry of a little girl’s heart is am I lovely? Every woman needs to know that she is exquisite and exotic and chosen. This is core to her identity, the way she bears the image of God. Will you pursue me? Do you delight in me? Will you fight for me? And like every little boy, she has taken a wound as well. The wound strikes right at the core of her heart of beauty and leaves a devastating message with it: No. You’re not beautiful and no one will really fight for you. Like your wound, hers almost always comes at the hand of her father.

Fresh grief and shame filled me upon receiving new insight from the Lord. All the way back, as far as I could remember, I never could capture men’s attention to my satisfaction. I was always closer to my mom than my dad, even before their divorce. I never felt I had his full attention. But the divorce delivered a deadly blow to my feelings of worth in my father’s eyes. That’s why I had been searching for decades. That was the root of my struggle.
I read further in Psalm 51:
 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
   a broken and contrite heart,
   O God, you will not despise.
God cared about my struggle—why else would he have spoken right to my heart and revealed something new to me, giving me power to overcome it? I knew God to be trustworthy over the course of my life. He has been faithful to me in all my trials and tribulations.
I knew I needed to make a change: I had to let go of my lack of trust in men, and my constant search for their attention, and put my full trust in God alone. He alone provides the affirmation, validation, and approval I seek. He is my trustworthy Father.
How has God’s Word helped you overcome trust issues?

Related posts in this series:
Billie Jean, 1984
Trust: My broken view of men

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NIV Bible
Eldredge, John. Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul. Thomas Nelson, Inc. Nashville: 2001.

Copyright 2016 Sarah Geringer