“Face Value”

Trust. A simple word it would appear, till you try to define it. Not that you cannot get the right words to, but the nature of its diversity would get you mixed up. A change in tense and you have a totally different thing. “I’ll trust you” expresses confidence, belief in someone. “I trust you” brings reassurance to whoever it is directed to. “I trusted you”-nothing expresses disappointment as strong as this. The problem, however, starts with “Trust me”. All of us have fallen to this line at some point in our lives. We use it to get favours, to win arguments, or to appear confident at something even if we are not. A bigger problem is about who deserves, and who does not deserve our trust… and if we ought to judge a person’s trustworthiness by their words, actions or looks. Speaking of which, why can’t face value just tell us all about a person??!! I guess that statement only expresses how much I would want to judge a book by its cover. I hate the fact that many people have mastered hypocrisy and pretension and have hence made ‘knowing a person’s ill intentions just by looking at them’ an arduous task.

Truth be told, we all have had trust issues at some point in our lives. I, for a fact, have had enough issues trusting people who I nearly know inside out and it only gets worse with a stranger. Fear of being betrayed aside, history has taught us that many good men have been bad kings, and some bad men have ended up being good kings. School of life has taught me that the more people you trust, the more vulnerable you become. I guess this has made me harden up, perhaps to a level of being a bit too careful with where I put my trust. I do not mean to be vain but I know that there’s a side of me that can be really nice and all but trouble erupts when it gets exploited. The mean side then begins to have an upper hand since it has leverage to prove that it’s no use being nice.

Then again, I hate that I can’t know if someone’s need for my help is genuine or if they’re just taking advantage of my being nice. I would do a lot for people who genuinely need help, but what happens when you feel like you’re being used? Like people seek your help because they know you’re nice enough to offer it, even though they could do without it? What happens when you begin to feel that someone could be making up a desperate situation that would make them be in a position to need your help? And what if you feel like people lie so that they can defraud you?
Then what happens if you are wrong about them all together? If they really are desperate and God gives you the ability to help them but you fail to since you think they are feigning desperation?

I guess I just fear being duped; being in a situation where you realize people thought you were naive and took advantage of it. A hundred shilling note given to a beggar does not pinch as much as ten shillings lost to a fraudulent tout. Sadly, today you can never tell who is a genuine beggar and who is a con. Today, even beggars get to quote the amount you give them,”Uncle, help me with twenty shillings” while it should be more of “Uncle, whatever you are offering, I’ll greatly appreciate.” This has made helping those who genuinely need the help very difficult. I still tremble with guilt whenever I have to turn down a small kid, because the realist in me feels her parents ought to have done better, or maybe they are completely unaware of their child’s “side-hustle”.

I often battle it out with my conscience. Maybe I’m just looking out for myself, being cautious so that I try not to get hurt. Or maybe I just can’t trust people enough, and maybe people don’t give me enough reason to trust them. But how would they know they don’t, if their weaknesses are what make them look untrustworthy, yet, they certainly mean no harm?
I really can’t answer all these questions but I guess all I can do Is do good to others as I’d want them to do to me. Whether the people really need my help is not for me to decide or worry about. I may not have the ability to judge a person’s truthfulness or trustworthiness from their face value but that’s not for me to worry about. All I got to do is help, help and help some more and let God be the Judge.

Author’s note: A special shout out to a friend who helped put this piece together. Thanks, I wouldn’t have done it better.

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