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By Marisa Stokley, Director of Marketing, WhiteFire Publishing Group

Trust. Blind faith. Belief that something bigger is at play than what can be seen before you. Confidence that another person has your best interests at heart. Conviction that you will be able to handle whatever comes your way.

Regardless of someone’s preferred wording, trust comes down to one theme: belief. Whether it is belief in themselves, in someone else, in a deity or supernatural being, or in a situation, this certainty is born of an acceptance that someone has only so much control in their own life. This belief offers comfort during challenging times and positivity during good ones. Whether it be good or bad, knowing an outcome is out of our control takes the weight of responsibility for it off our hands and puts into someone else’s.  To God be the glory, for example, or “Well, so-and-so didn’t happen, so the universe must not have wanted it that way.”

Knowing an outcome is out of our control takes the weight of responsibility for it off our hands and puts it into someone else’s.

Mackenna Sparrow, the heroine of Heart of a Royal (WhiteSpark Publishing, 2019), experiences this dichotomy between trust and control while growing up as an unofficial daughter of the Peverell royal family. Under the guidance of the king and her parents, she implicitly trusted her caregivers because she knew to do no differently. Her parents set the example to follow the king’s instructions, so Mackenna did the same with the understanding that she would be cared for. Mackenna’s needs were met, and Peverell flourished under the king’s reign. She never worried about her future because the needs of and requirements set by others drove her circumstances.

Much like the royal family of Peverell, royal families of today are most successful when they inspire trust among themselves and among their people. Britain’s monarchy, the Windsor family, is known around the world due, in large part, to its beloved queen, Elizabeth II. The monarch has been on the throne for seventy years and recently celebrated her Platinum Jubilee to celebrate the milestone. The Windsor family rose in prominence during the First World War, its popularity strengthened during the Second World War, and it became a powerhouse of strength with the ascension of Queen Elizabeth and her descendants. The queen and her family inspired trust during exceptionally difficult times, setting in store a foundation that should be unbreakable, yet during the past few years have seen that trust wither with the drama between the “Fab Four”—Prince William and his wife, Catherine, and Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan. Watching this family’s seemingly perfect life fall crack at various seams in front of the entire world is a reminder of how fragile the bonds of trust can be, even when those bonds were cemented with the sturdiest of glue.  

Trust is an innate quality that diminishes throughout time and can be difficult to regain; yet with a guiding hand from caring individuals and an open heart to spiritual nudging, trust can be one of the most significant themes in a person’s life. Babies are born with an instinct to trust their caregivers. Without this inborn behavior, they would never survive. This is seen in every way that a person can be cared for: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Caregivers feed, bathe, dress, play with, read to, and interact with their children. They also, in the Christian faith, have their babies baptized to begin their faith formation. Babies and young children cannot make the decision to be baptized themselves. It is up to their caregivers to understand that God has entrusted them to set that foundation of Christian faith into motion by teaching children about it and having them cleansed of sin. With baptism, caregivers demonstrate to their children that they themselves trust God and that children should as well. Only life—beautiful, challenging, real life—teaches people that trust can be broken and that, sometimes, it is easier to rely on themselves than others.

When instinct turns into experience, people need to become active participants in what and whom they trust. Children blindly trust the caregivers in their lives because those adults keep them safe, healthy, and happy. As adults, however, experience and time requirement critical thinking and judgment to influence in whom and what people place trust. Doing otherwise can lead to difficult circumstances, misunderstandings, and placing trust in the wrong people or situations in an attempt to exert control. 

In Heart of a Royal, only when a massive life change occurred did Mackenna begin to see that her trust in her caregivers was misplaced and that she should have questioned her own reasoning and that of those around her. Her belief in the life she’d lived for eighteen years was shaken upon a loss of control of her own circumstances and a breaking of trust between her and those closest to her. With no one left to lean upon and no ability to influence anything around her, Mackenna lost herself. She witnessed destruction of the world she loved and had to rebuild her understanding of whom and what to have faith in. Her belief needed to come not from people but from the One who would remain the same regardless of earthly circumstances.   

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex have been experiencing similar difficulties with trust ever since the two began dating in 2016. Upon the death of Prince Harry’s mother in 1997, one of the biggest drivers of popularity for the Windsor family was the close relationship between Prince Harry and Prince William. This relationship turned cold once Prince Harry and Meghan’s relationship intensified in late 2016; six years later, the relationship seems to be in no better state, as exemplified by the couple’s move to California with their two children. While Prince Harry remains as popular ever, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge often face media scrutiny for their presumed poor treatment of Prince Harry. In addition, the former third in line to the throne and his wife are fighting against a lack of trust from the public, who don’t know which brother to believe nor which royal household is telling the truth about this “battle of the brothers.” Prince Harry, meanwhile, is up against an even more hurtful foe: the breakdown of the relationship with his brother and his father. The brothers and Prince Charles once formed the backbone to a revitalized monarchy. At present, Prince Harry remains on the sidelines with only his wife and children and a slew of painful comments from the once trusted more than anything to keep him company.

Trust, Mackenna learns, is belief; but placing that belief solely in those on earth will lead to disappointment because humans are fallible. Try as we might, we do not always make the right decisions. Should Makenna’s parents have granted the request of the royal family when Peverell needed them? Was it right for Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex to leave the monarchy? Scripture says to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight,” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Christians are called to trust the Lord in every way and with everything they have. Difficulties, uncertainty, and pain still will come, but so will joy, love, and peace beyond all understanding. Just as Mackenna experienced during her time at the palace with Peverell’s royal family, Christians know that control is much easier to handle and release with a gentle grace when trust is placed in Jesus’s hands.