Is my name safe in your mouth?

Posted on February 7, 2011


It’s an acknowledged maxim of business that you can work at the speed of trust, that the upper limit of our faith in each other is the upper limit of our efficiency, creativity, and success. The handshake deal is not a thing of some golden past, but a continuing reality between high-trust professionals. Even Warren Buffett can move billion dollar deals, on the history of association that has yielded intimate knowledge of what his partners will do when challenged, sealed only with a verbal agreement.

No relationship is free of this limit. Every day we look in each others’ eyes and move forward, or not, do more or don’t risk, based on our history and perceptions of one another. Our faith in one another is based largely on our experience with each other, and it breeds some level of trust. Interestingly enough, however, trust is an all or nothing thing. When we say we trust someone, we mean we always trust them.

How do you feel about someone who performs 90% of the time, who has your back 85% of the time, who is going to be there when needed 70% of the time? In those situations, we’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop, because we know that there is some percentage of the time when we have absolutely no idea what he or she will do. We can understand intellectually and emotionally that people aren’t perfect, but when it is about us, we only trust 100%, because when someone holds our heart in their hands, even 1% risk is scary.

Perfect trustworthiness can seem an impossible goal when stated in those terms, but it’s not. Your children know with 100% assurance that if they’re in a life-threatening jam, you’re going to be there for them, and it may not even need to be serious for them to have absolute faith in you. You have friends that you would move small mountains to help, and you know they would do the same for you. We each have people in whom we have perfect faith should we face a crisis.

It’s the little things that introduce doubt. Loyalty is a battle-weary personal value. Our penchant for humor at others’ expense, our poor handling of our own burdens and emotional immaturities, the stresses of balancing lives that are often far too busy and complex, all introduce opportunities to be disloyal in our speech. Before we know it, we’ve said something we regret, something that we would hate to have make it back to someone about whom we care deeply.

Perhaps we’ve been on the other end, and felt the sting of a trust not shattered, but not perfect. At those times we might wonder, “Is my name safe in your mouth?” We might pause before we venture somewhere we are intended to go, accomplish less than we are intended to create. We do our business at the speed of our … distrust.

How can we create a life of faithful association, where we can do all that we need to do with confidence? By being trustworthy ourselves. It is less a stretch than we might imagine that the names of those whom we love would always, 100% of the time, be safe in our mouths. This perfection is quite within our power with a bit of practice, and once the expectation of perfection is established firmly in our minds regarding our loved ones, it grows to include others, until we arrive at a place where everyone’s name is safe in our mouth.

I think this is a good place to be. It is far from where I have been, in my past, which made the necessity of the journey all the more obvious. When I spend my minutes at the end of the day evaluating what I have done that I’m pleased or sorry about, always it is the people things that cause the first dismay. Each night I wonder if everyone has been safe in my mouth. I wonder if I am growing into the kind of person who is worthy of a handshake deal, who can do more faster because there is no barrier of trust. The quest continues.

Today I’m pondering whether God’s name is safe in my mouth, whether I am a defender and advocate of the creator who has given me everything. Speech has great power, not only to expose the virtue of our thoughts but to create reality, to shape intent, and to influence. I wonder if I am trustworthy with His name, if He could deal with me at my word, if we can do more together because we have no barriers.

I taught today the power of that name, the one that he gave for himself to Moses, and in many playful forms when he ministered in person. I AM, he said. The self-existent one. Every time I define myself with that phrase and some adjective, I hear the name of God, and have the opportunity to invoke his blessing on my intent to become.

Is His name safe in my mouth? Is everyone else’s? Am I faithful, kind, hard-working, … trustworthy? My answer is not an affirmation of present perfection but a hopeful leap based on real intent.

I am.

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