It’s rough when you realize your loved ones don’t trust you.
Last year I had a conversation with my brother about Unitarianism. I wondered aloud about what would happen when my non-believing family showed up to our next family reunion.
This is how my brother responded:
I would think that if I were attending a reunion that was Christian and I was not, I would expect to be respectful and adapt, rather than expecting everyone else to change. Maybe you need to think about what your goals really are—what are you trying to accomplish with the family and your involvement in Unitarianism?
A fair point. But he immediately assumed I had an agenda. That I had a goal of converting everyone in my family to Unitarianism. I told him I was not trying to change anyone’s mind. He also assumed I would approach the reunion aggressively and disrespectfully.
There is a history here. My family tends to regard people who speak with enthusiasm as salesy, untrustworthy types. They can easily mistake my energy for argumentativeness about topics they are uncomfortable about.
I probably needed to curb my enthusiasm a bit in this conversation. But I realized that it is also a matter of low trust.
The low trust is a result of my separation and divorce several years ago, as well as my departure from the Lutheran ministry. My family took it very personally. In many ways I was on a pedestal, in an awkward unspoken way, and when I got off of the pedestal, everyone felt betrayed. They don’t ever say that directly. But the look in their eyes and their lack of trust is always evident, just under the surface.
It hurts to know my family doesn’t trust me. But it is getting better. With lots of emotional investment, presence, and patience.