Most of us are very careful about who we trust. From childhood, we are filled with a fear of strangers and friends will with ill intent. Lend someone your money, and you may never again see it; give a man your time, and you may never get it back; reveal to a woman your heart, and she may choose to break it. Caution is the name of the game.
I’ve always approached life with a healthy dose of skepticism, which until this point, it has served me quite well. I am very careful about who I trust; I won’t lend my money, my time, or my heart, to someone I don’t know well.
But life is full of change and new beginnings, and there will always be times when we find ourselves in situations where we don’t know anyone well. In these moments, the wise words of Ernest Hemingway ring true: the only way to discover if we are able to trust someone is to start trusting them.
And this is absolutely terrifying.
I grew up in a small town in Montana, where everyone knew everyone, so it was quite shocking to come to Rwanda personally knowing only five people in the country and being completely unable to communicate. If I wanted food or water or directions around the city, I had two choices: figure it out myself, or trust someone to help me. I quickly learned that the “figuring it out for myself” option was rarely a sufficient means to meet my needs, which has left me to wallow in the discomfort of my only alternative: trust.
Take, for example, transportation. One of the primary means of navigating the Kigali is by moto, which is a small motor bike with two seats and two helmets, one each for passenger and driver. Locals take motos like they drink water — but I am most obviously not a local. I am totally comfortable with Uber, but for some reason, I find it very unsettling to get on the backseat of a motorcycle driven by a person with whom I have no means to communicate.
Up until now, the moto-riding process for non-native me has gone something like this: I flag down a moto. I greet the driver with my approximate version of the Kinyarwanda “hello,” then dial a local friend to ask them to give directions in Kinyarwanda to the driver. I spend the entirety of the ride going down unfamiliar streets praying all the while that the stranger I am sitting behind is a good and honest person who will take me safely to my destination. So far, my prayers worked.
If you come to visit me in Kigali, I will suggest that you take moto exactly in this manner. And if you are anything like me, you will be terrified.
Often in life, however, we have no choice but to get on the back of a stranger’s moto and pray to God that everything is going to be ok. Sometimes, we must resign ourselves to being pulled through a maze of dark and unfamiliar streets, wondering all the while why we agreed to get on the moto in the first place. The driver of our fate receives the directions form Someone on high in a language we find unintelligible, leaving us with no idea where we are going or how to get there.
You needn’t despair, however. Although I may never fully trust Kigali moto drivers, you, like me, can have confidence in the friends who give our drivers directions. Likewise, we can have confidence in the guidance of He Who Is on High, for if it is His will that we arrive at our destination safely, surely, we will.
We will all encounter moments when we can lean not on our own understanding. In these times, we have no choice to trust in Someone who knows the right way, and jump on the bike of a stranger’s moto in faith that – Lord willing – we will arrive at the right destination.