Dr. Brene Brown says trust is like a “marble jar”.  We put marbles in when people treat us in ways that are trust promoting, such as keeping their commitments, and we take marbles out when they do things that are trust diminishing such as lying to us or being manipulative.  When the marble jar is full, “that’s what trust looks like”.

I like this analogy because it serves as a reminder that trust builds over time, with little gestures.  It also allows for forgiveness, for the eb and flow of authentic relationships.

If you were to ask me why I trust my closest friends, my natural response would be, “I don’t know, I just do”.  When I really think about it, however, I land on small moments and responses over the course of years.  Mainly what comes to mind is the way people choose to listen to me with compassion, offer their concern without judgment, or check-in on me and follow through when they know I am struggling.

I also remember trust breaking moments, like the time my cousin told a kid in my grade that when I was younger I wanted to grow up to be a “nerd”, and he told his friends until an entire group of boys was following me around calling me “nerd” repeatedly.  While I was able to repair trust with my cousin, it definitely took increased time and a period of hesitancy on my part.

Over time, I have learned with whom it is safe to trust the most vulnerable parts of myself (who I trust to stand by me with empathy) and with whom I choose to be more careful.  Upon further reflection, I realize that I have also learned the ways I am at risk for losing trust with myself and what I need to do in order to repair my self-belief.

So, I wonder: what creates trust for you?  What are marble adding or marble subtracting actions or behaviors for you?  Who are your marble jar friends?  And perhaps most importantly, how do you become a marble jar companion to yourself?

Companionship and belonging are significant aspects of what it means to be human. Opening ourselves up and giving ourselves permission to trust the people in our life who are worthy of it, is imperative to our ability to feel both safe and connected.

Additionally, being able to trust ourselves is fundamental to our capacity to be alone with ourselves in positive and life-affirming ways.

Deeper connection to faith:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “A positive religious faith does not offer an illusion that we shall be exempt from pain and suffering, nor does it imbue us with the idea that life is a drama of unalloyed comfort and untroubled ease.  Rather it instills us with the inner equilibrium needed to face strains, burdens, and fears that inevitably come and assures us that the universe is trustworthy and God is concerned”. 

How does your faith or belief system help you to trust in the Universe and God?   If your trust in the Universe and God gets strained, how do you work to rebuild again?


Nikki Holm, MA, Chaplain