“Trust is earned.” I understand why you think that. You’ve been wounded, abused, rejected, and betrayed. You’re determined to protect yourself. You’re not going to put your heart in someone else’s hands. Never again.
I’m so sorry you’ve gone through that, and I pray you’re never the target of someone’s bitter insecurities again. But even when healthy boundaries are finally established, trusting anyone after being wounded can be so difficult. In your own strength, it’s nearly impossible.
Whether it’s someone you have a history with, or someone you’ve just met, if you believe the other person must earn your approval, you’re making yourself a god. The other person will never be able to measure up to the requirements your fear and pain demand. You’ll judge every word, action, and inaction through them, but the fear will never be allayed, and the pain will never be healed. They’ll only be temporarily placated through control and punishment.
Unless you’re planning to live in a cave with that fearful mindset, you’ll have to deal with how you’re going to build, and rebuild, relationships. Start with being open and honest with God, and trusting your heart to him again first. You’re right to not let anyone else determine who you are, but Jesus isn’t just anyone. You can make yourself vulnerable to him. No matter what’s happening around you, or what anyone else is doing, you can trust him with every thought in your head, and every feeling in your heart.
Stop seeing trust from the point of view of the old you. That broken version of you sees trust as a limited resource to be hoarded. But the new you, the redeemed you—the person God sees when he looks at you—knows trust is your constant state of joyful confidence, with which you can boldly engage life. Not because you can’t be hurt, but because you’re certain of the unceasing love and grace God has for you. In that grace, you can see others as he does—looking beyond what they’ve done, and treating them as the person he’s showing you they can become in his forgiveness, mercy, joy, peace, kindness, and healing.
Ask God for grace. You don’t have to earn it or beg for it. You just need to recognize he’s already made it available for you. Grace to heal, rest, and grow strong again. Grace to live in unyielding hope, peace, and joy. Grace to be free of needing others to act a certain way for you to be okay. Grace to see others as he does, not as your past wants to. Grace to trust.
Your identity is no longer dependent on what someone else does or doesn’t do. You are complete and secure in Jesus no matter what’s going on around you. You can do what seemed impossible on your own—forgive the ones who have hurt you. Bless them. Let them go. It doesn’t mean you have to let them hurt you again, it means you’re free from everything they’ve done. You’re free to be all God says you can be. You’re free to trust again.