When entering into a relationship, it is safe to say that you are probably going to have little to no idea how the brokenness of your partners past is going to affect the world the two of you are going to build together. Ice that cake with the fact that neither one of you are perfect in the best of scenarios, and the themes of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘trust’ will no doubt become items for discussion, and mountains to climb… together.
While trust is one of the most important ingredients to any relationship, it is also one of the most fragile. The old saying about it is true:
Trust takes time to build, but can be destroyed in a moment.
Forgiveness on the other hand is the foundation that is needed for trust to be rebuilt. The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as ‘granting free pardon and giving up all claim on account of an offense or debt.’
It’s important to bring to mind here, that to forgive does mean that you are letting the offender off easy. It doesn’t mean that the hurtful actions of another are being accepted and the feelings of pain are no longer there. It does mean that the person who has been hurt is choosing to not let the pain have a place of control in their life.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while building on a foundation of forgiveness:
- Trust needs to be earned… not demanded.
- Patterns of distrust develop over time… and those patterns need time to be undeveloped.
- When trust has been shattered… be on the lookout for control issues to surface.
- Time… intention… and small steps forward.
If you are on the front end of rebuilding trust within and existing relationship, or you are getting a second chance in a new one (that you are bringing all of your baggage into), keep in mind that in order to build strong, lasting and loving relationships is going to require intention. Every facet of your ‘new’ relationship is going to need to be journeyed with an eye towards long-term trust patterns that are being established. Be patient with each other.
Learn skills of honest communication that bring restoration and healing. Give yourself permission and space to feel a degree of safety again… and when you are not feeling safe, make it known… and speak with words what it is that you need.
When those old patterns and feelings of distrust arrive, make it a point to pause… stop everything… until the issue has been resolved, and the two of you can move forward together. Don’t allow either persons emotions to be trivialized… or minimized.
Accept the other person for who they are, and set your expectations at a place where they are realistic.
Both of you are going to need to take responsibility for your feelings, thoughts and actions when you are moving towards forgiveness and trust. Betrayal hurts, and the easiest thing to do is to begin deflecting blame elsewhere.
Time… time… and more time.
And if you fail again… and again… and again… get back up… continue to move forward. Desire that your relationship be the best that it can be, despite the difficulty that trusting ‘again’ may bring. All the while, trusting wisely… with courage and honor for the dignity of everyone involved.