In Others’ Words: Trust


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“One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life.” ~E.M. Forster (1879-1970), English novelist

As a novelist, I spend a lot of time with imaginary people.

I don’t just hang around with them — I actually expend many hours and much energy getting to know these fictitious characters. I try to understand their pasts so that I can properly write their presents and futures. Along the way of delving into all the “who are you?” questions and “why do you do things that way?” questions, I discover my characters’ values.

Case in point: In my second novel, Catch a Falling Star (Howard Books, May 2013), I discovered my hero valued independence — for lots of reasons I won’t go into here. And I discovered my heroine valued helping kids.

Funny thing is, as I discovered all these imaginary people’s values, I more clearly understood my own values. For so long I would nod my head when someone said kindness was important. Or truthfulness. Or courage. Or gentleness.

All true — and probably what these people valued.

But I’ve wrestled with the “What do I value?” question for several years now and I know that I know that I know that I value relationships. (And several other things, but that’s another blog post.)

And to be in relationship with people you have to, as E. M. Forster said, “… be fond of people.”

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

But it’s not always easy to do, even for a relationship-valuer like me. I don’t always like the things people say and do — and I’m willing to bet there are times people don’t like me.

And then there’s the whole issue of trust (my word for 2012!) Here’s what I believe: To not make a mess of life, you have to learn who to trust — and who not to trust.

In Your Words: What do you value? And what lessons have you learned to not make a mess of life?


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  1. August 1, 2012, 6:06 am   /  Reply

    I value independence…the I can do this myself sort of thing. lol. And friendships. And
    along the way, I’ve learn, like you said, who to trust and who not to trust.

    • Beth Vogt
      August 1, 2012, 3:23 pm   /  Reply

      Friendships = relationships.
      Works for me, Pat!

  2. August 1, 2012, 7:28 am   /  Reply

    So true, Beth. Your quote is more apt for me than Forster’s. Relationships are in my top three list (maybe the top) of things I value, so I was disappointed when I faced that I don’t like and trust all people. And, like you said, that everyone doesn’t like and trust me.

    I learned about who to trust the hard way, by trusting several untrustworthy people. In fact, I used to be drawn to people I couldn’t trust, then I’d spend a good bit of time trying to reform them. That’s how life got messy around here.

    Happy to say things are a changin’. Posts like this one help. Thank you.

    • Beth Vogt
      August 1, 2012, 3:24 pm   /  Reply

      I have my top 3 values too, Kim — and I’ve come by them the hard way. It’s funny how we can live our lives thinking we value one (or 2 or 3) thing(s) — and discover we’ve actually just been talking into valuing those things. They don’t reflect who we are at all.

  3. August 1, 2012, 7:29 am   /  Reply

    I value a lot of things–education, freedom of religion, simple pleasures–but I agree with you: relationship above all else. We are relational people. We weren’t meant to go at this life alone. God gave us one another. We MUST lean on each other to be successful at anything…even, just living.

    • Beth Vogt
      August 1, 2012, 3:24 pm   /  Reply

      Agreed, Lindsay. Agreed.

  4. August 1, 2012, 7:30 am   /  Reply

    I value direction and purpose and passion…with some adventure and freedom thrown in. And, yes, relationships. But back to that first set–I feel like I’m most settled with myself and the world around me when I’ve got some semblance of direction, when I know-know-know my purpose (found in Christ) and am living life with passion. When I lose sight of that purpose, when I’m drifting, that’s when I get emotionally muddled. And I want to be a person who inspires others to know where their purpose comes from.

    • Beth Vogt
      August 1, 2012, 3:25 pm   /  Reply

      May I borrow your value, Melissa?
      So well said!

  5. August 1, 2012, 7:54 am   /  Reply

    I highly value loyalty. Someone who will stick with you and have your back in difficult situations. It is so important to pick friends who are loyal. When the going gets tough friends take you shopping…LOL. Seriously, though true friends are loyal when you are at your best and worst. They speak the truth like a Proverbs friend, but encourage and always, always, always have your back.

    Great Post, Beth!

    • Beth Vogt
      August 1, 2012, 3:26 pm   /  Reply

      Loyalty — yep, I agree, Michelle.
      Loyalty is another word for trustworthiness in my book.

  6. Loree Huebner
    August 1, 2012, 8:08 am   /  Reply

    Seek the truth and trust God – I seem to stay out of trouble when I’m on that path.

    • Beth Vogt
      August 1, 2012, 3:26 pm   /  Reply

      Sounds like a system that works, Loree.

  7. Jeanne
    August 1, 2012, 8:12 am   /  Reply

    Great post. Tough questions. 🙂 What do I value? Relationships, certainly. Withing hte context of relationships, I believe integrity, honesty, and being real are crucial.

    I still make messes in my life. Usually, it’s because my thoughts go where they shouldn’t and I act on them. So, I guess one thing I’m learning is to listen to and believe truth rather than my thoughts, when they diverge. Having trustworthy people in my life who speak truth help with this. 🙂 Does that make sense?

    • Beth Vogt
      August 1, 2012, 3:26 pm   /  Reply

      Absolutely makes sense, Jeanne.

  8. August 1, 2012, 8:57 am   /  Reply

    Before I started to write I hadn’t really considered what I valued, in actual words. I knew in my heart, but I’d never articulated them before. For me, I value family, friendships, community, education and faith. Since following my dream to write, I’ve also learned how much I value hard work and determination.

    What lessons have I learned to NOT make a mess of life?!?! 🙂 Ha! To tell you that, I’d probably have to tell you what I’ve learned makes a mess and to do the opposite! I’ve learned when I hold on too tight to my own understandings, plans and desires, I usually make a mess. Instead, when I cling to Proverbs 3:5-6 and I trust in God, I’m able to hold on to what I value and to do it well.

    • Beth Vogt
      August 1, 2012, 3:27 pm   /  Reply

      I think writing is one way to clarify values, Gabrielle — absolutely!

  9. August 1, 2012, 1:54 pm   /  Reply

    And here we are thinking alike again, Beth. My post for tomorrow is about trust. I love your quote! We can certainly make a mess of things, can’t we? It makes perfect sense that you are a relationship-valuer. Your kind words and encouragement of others highlights that wonderful characteristic. What do I value? Honesty. Integrity. Being a sold out Christ follower. And I’ve made a mess of all three at one time or another. It’s a good thing God surrounds me with people who don’t. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      August 1, 2012, 3:27 pm   /  Reply

      Can’t wait to read your post tomorrow, my friend!

  10. August 1, 2012, 2:38 pm   /  Reply

    Helpful stuff. When we know our characters well enough, I see that they will tell us their stories. Commenting today from Atlanta after just eating at Chick-fil-A (with hundreds of others in this one spot).

    • Beth Vogt
      August 1, 2012, 3:28 pm   /  Reply

      I had breakfast at Chik-fil-a!
      Safe travels!

  11. August 1, 2012, 6:31 pm   /  Reply

    Great thoughts, Beth. I’ve learned that I have to trust God, which means putting my concerns in His lap and leaving them there. I make a mess of life when I worry and try to fix everything. When I trust that He’s big enough to take care of it, things seem to work out.

    What do I value? Love. All those things you said, I nodded at them too. They’re all important. But I won’t have kindness, truthfulness, courage, gentleness, or relationships if I don’t have love.

    Thanks for making me think about something worthwhile today!

  12. August 1, 2012, 6:53 pm   /  Reply

    This post made me think! You’re so right–as we figure out our characters, we figure out more about what we value (and what we’re trying to say w/our book!). As for me, I’m very transparent w/my life, but I have a few really close friends (husband included) who know me well enough to know how to really pray for me! And I pray for them, too! It’s so good to have loyal friends we can share our burdens with!

  13. August 1, 2012, 11:22 pm   /  Reply

    Honesty, empathy, loyalty-come first to mind. A backbone and a sense of humor, too.
    Used to value self-sufficiency. My thinking=”God gave me the intelligence to handle this…blah, blah, blah…”. But I just didn’t fully get it. I’m so thick-headed sometimes. I had to be knocked down in a way that the only thing I could do was to give it ALL to God and hang on. God came through-bigtime, but not in a way I would have ever imagined on my own.

    I’ve learned so much about myself since I started creating characters in earnest. They say, “Write what you know.” It’s like taking little bits and pieces of myself, good and bad, analyzing, expanding. Isn’t writing great? A constant journey of self-discovery.

    Great post, Beth. Made me think.

  14. Alena Tauriainen
    August 2, 2012, 11:12 am   /  Reply

    Hi Beth!

    Great post! What do I value? Loyalty. Friendships / relationships of people I can trust to tell me the truth and love me, not throw me under the bus. Funny, as I write out my characters, I too am finding out my values. It’s making me grow, sometimes painful, sometimes fun.

    Alena T.

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