The Support Needed to Trust Again

Finding Support

Reconciliation is about rebuilding trust because …

[Tweet “Trust cannot be given like love or forgiveness. Trust must be earned. “]

And trust is earned and established through respect and compliance with healthy boundaries and new ways of relating.

So the first job for the two parties is to …

Determine what you should require and expect of each other going forward.

This might seem simple to do, but I’ve seen and experienced the difficulty of determining what should be addressed, changed and established in myself and my offender. That’s why it’s important to begin this stage with support.

Ask yourself these questions to determine how “supported” you are in this endeavor …

  • How often do you turn to God’s word and pray? What gets in the way of this?
  • What Bible passages or verses do you focus on? Are they addressing the issues you’ve faced in your marriage or relationship conflict?
  • Are you praying daily for your spouse?
  • Are you praying daily for yourself to be a more loving, humble and sacrificial spouse?
  • Are you praying for both of you to see the sins that you’re blind to in this conflict?
  • Have you enlisted several mentors – godly friends, your pastor, a good Christian counselor/coach to hold you accountable on the issues you must change in your life?
  • Are your mentors supporting and praying for you regularly regarding the boundaries you must set?
  • Are your mentors asking you hard questions that break through your denial and fears?
  • Are you attending a healthy, spiritually vibrant and Bible-believing church regularly?
  • Are you actively involved in a small group that challenges you in your faith and knows what you are going through so they can pray and support you?
  • Are you realizing that you and your spouse are both sinners and that no sin is blacker than any other {although some sins are more destructive, carrying greater consequences and punishments}?
  • Do you seek a “sober view” of your sin daily? {Not letting it weigh you down with shame and condemnation but seeing the reality and destructiveness of it, then repenting and releasing it to God?}

If you can say “yes” or have clear and positive answers to these questions, then you’ve created a supportive environment where God can and will reveal to you what you need to …

  1. Require of your spouse moving forward in the reconciliation. And …
  2. Require of yourself, changing for the better in your relationship and life.

It may not come overnight. In fact, very often we must wait on the Lord so that our faith is strengthened. But in time and with commitment to living in the Truth, you will discover what should be said and done.

What boundaries do you feel you need to set in your conflicted relationship?

 

What areas of your life do you need to surrender or change in order to rebuild a conflicted marriage or relationship?

 

I hope you come back next week when I will be addressing how to communicate the boundaries in your relationship in a way that is clear and affirming. If you answer the first question posed above, I may choose the boundary you’ve identified as an example in next week’s post.

 

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* To read the previous post in our ongoing series on forgiveness click – How to Prepare for Reconciliation

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  • Beth, I love that you began your list with several bullet points on prayer and seeking God. He is our first source of support, it’s so true. Yet how often do we seek it elsewhere? Boundaries for me involve loving my offender yet not allowing the person to influence me any longer. Sometimes it’s a fine line.

    • Yes, it really is a fine line that we often can’t see with our limited and distorted human vision, Becky. That’s why it’s just so crucial to rely on God’s vision and insight. Thanks for your sweet words of kindness to me, my friend!

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  • Yes, we need community! And yes, we need to sit with these questions to be sure we’ve got some top-notch cheerleaders in our corner.

    • This is something that should be a no-brainer, Linda, but very often people don’t enlist the support they need in times of crisis. But then, you know that already, don’t you! 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement, my friend!

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  • Beth, this is such a great series. So needed too as we all have situations that need forgiveness. I liked what you said about trust.

    Thanks for hosting the party.

    • Yes, trust is something we must do (verb) but being trustworthy (adjective) is built/earned and not inherited, Judith. Thanks for your friendship and smiling face around my place.

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  • Nan

    Another great post and love the verse you’ve selected, it’s always been one of my favorites. Love how you point out the need to surround yourself with a support system and accountability. What better thing can you do for a person than point them to Jesus? Thanks for hosting another great party, my friend!

    • And it really boils down to that, Nan! Our supporters are pointing us to Christ! I love that! Thanks for weighing in and adding to our discussion.

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, and splendid checklist!

    I have three further thoughts, and would love to hear what y’all think…

    1 – I’m not sure about that trust must be earned, and can’t be given. I have two examples:

    First, we often ‘give’ trust on the flimsiest of pretexts…because someone looks of seems trustworthy. This is especially trust during courtship, when we choose to trust our beloved with our heart. Sometimes that doesn’t go too well, but it’s still a choice, and one sometimes made with evidence that it isn’t a great idea.

    Second, Jesus made the choice to trust Peter with His church, after Peter had denied Him three times during a single night.

    It begs the question – did Peter’s previous trustworthiness outweigh this lapse? And is this the example we should be using when we forgive another’s betrayal?

    Does complete forgiveness require the decision to trust again? If we require “re-earning” of trust, can we claim to have forgiven?

    2 – Are all sins equally black? Compare peter, above, to Judas. Both betrayed Christ, in ways that were different but not all THAT different.

    We do have Scriptural evidence that Judas regretted his actions, in his throwing the silver pack at the feet of the Pharisees.

    And he hung himself, but what happened after that? He’s reviled by most Christians, and they’d consider him to be one of hell’s most prominent citizens (based largely on Dante), but might his refusal of the silver and his suicide been wrapped up in an acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord?

    Is it Jesus who sees Judas’ sin as blacker than Peter’s – or is it us?

    The only Scriptural reference we have is John 17:12, which states that “none of them was lost, except for the son of destruction, in order that Scripture might be fulfilled”.

    Eternal damnation? Many, if not most people think so, but the next thing Jesus says is that “I speak in this world so that the may share in My joy completely”. Does this include a forgiven Judas?

    There is some theological debate on this (part of of which includes the interesting question of who declared Jesus the “innocent lamb” – Pilate, or Judas?), but it does boil down to the question – are some sins worse than others? If the answer’s no, what are we to make of Judas’ seeming damnation, even in the face of what seems to be repentance? (The question of the absence of free will leading to fulfillment of Scripture really isn’t relevant; the prediction was of betrayal, and it could have been anyone…the “irresistible temptation” was there, and Judas was the one who fell for it. And let’s not forget that the other apostles were guilty of sins like the lust for power and position.)

    And if the answer’s yes, do we dare appoint ourselves arbiters of our spouses’ sins?

    3 – I find that the hardest person to trust again is me.I have inside knowledge of just how devious I can be, and of the depths to which I can sink.

    I hold myself to a higher standard because I know the mitigating circumstances and lack thereof…or think I do.

    And if I hold myself to a standard that can be, in the long run, unrealistic…what might I do to others? Can I become, like Tacitus’ centurion, “all the more relentless because he had endured it himself”?

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2014/04/marriage-misteaks.html

    • JosephPote

      Yes, we are certainly capable of ‘blind faith’ or ‘blind trust’. That doesn’t make it a good idea or a wise choice.

      Wisdom tells us to trust those who have shown themselves to be trustworthy and to be skeptical of those who have proven themselves untrustworthy.

      For those we simply do not know, we tend to trust our instincts. Often those instincts are correct, but sometimes they are wrong.

      For situations where someone we are close to has repeatedly deeply wounded us, there is a natural desire to want to have the relationship restored to its former state of trust and intimacy. Sometimes, in an effort to achieve that goal, we too quickly give our trust again. When we do this, it results in two issues.

      For the wounded party, we are giving our trust to someone we know is not trustworthy, which creates a contradiction, which becomes a source of stress. We want to trust, but we really can’t truly trust, because both instincts and logic continually send alarms of distress and warning. We trigger and push ourselves into a state of hypervigilance that is unhealthy both for ourselves and for the relationship.

      For the offender, the unearned trust is also unhealthy. The offender has already, previously, disregarded the value of their partner’s trust. By having their offense treated lightly, they are likely to continue to treat trust as being of little value. We tend to value what we’ve lost and have to work to regain. Unearned and unmerited trust tends to set the stage for continued and increasing abuses.

      Far better to set healthy boundaries and commit to accountability, so a loving relationship can be rebuilt on mutual trust of two trustworthy individuals.

      • Thanks for responding to some of Andrew’s questions here, Joe. I know that you have a better grasp of the theological implications here than I do. I never claimed to be a theologian! ha! But certainly as a believer who wears many hats, I must have biblical clarity on this issue of trust. So Andrew is stretching me and that is good! But I’m grateful that you’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting! ha!

    • Oh my! Well, let me see if I can address some of these questions, Andrew. Although I feel a bit inadequate for the task!

      1. Yes, we often do give trust for the flimsiest of reasons. That doesn’t make it right. And although Peter denied Jesus, I think this is a great example of how we are looking for a long history of trustworthiness and not perfection. It is important to see how our offender responds in those times when he fails us again. I’ll be addressing some of these issues in my my next post in the forgiveness series. And I’m not sure if I would say that “complete forgiveness” requires the decision to trust again–unless it is trusting our Lord. But I do think “reconciliation” requires trust to be reestablished. Otherwise, we are foolishly making ourselves vulnerable and most likely enabling the bad character in our offender. In spiritual terms that would be classified as being a “stumbling block” to our offender’s spiritual growth–something Christ wants us to avoid.

      2. I don’t know if you caught it, Andrew, but I said that sins are equal, not in their destructiveness, consequences or offensiveness to our Lord, but in their defilement of our hearts. It’s just that it only takes ONE sin (no matter what it is) to be considered unrighteous (Rom. 3:23, James 3:2). That’s where I think that we cannot sit in judgment upon one another saying that someone’s sin is worse or even better than our own. And as far as Judas is concerned, I don’t know, but it seems to me that John 17:12 is a reference to Judas. I don’t know that any one of us, except Christ, can know what was in Judas’ heart the night he hanged himself. It might have been more of an awful realization and not a repentant one. I am of the opinion that if he had repented, he would’ve been moved by the Spirit not to kill himself. Again, that doesn’t mean I’m saying that those who kill themselves can’t be believers either. This is one place where it gets too complex and murky, Andrew. They are questions that will be made clear on the other side of eternity but for now they may only cause heated debates rather than clearer understanding of trust and forgiveness. I’m not sure where you would draw the correlation that we become “arbiter’s of our spouse’s sin” when we choose not to see their sin as worse than our own. It seems like it would have the opposite effect here. At least that’s been my experience.

      3. The fact that you are your hardest critic can be both a blessing and a curse. If you’re saying that you have a clear and sober view of how you are prone to sin and weak under temptation, then I think that’s a sign of your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s conviction. If you’re saying you feel deep condemnation and overwhelming regret for your sins, then I would say that you are carrying a burden that Christ wants to carry for you. Remember, Romans 8:1-2, my friend! There is no condemnation in Christ! If you feel condemned you are listening to the “accuser,” Satan. Big difference!

      I don’t know if I answered your questions completely. I just feel that we must trust other imperfect human beings, but not make ourselves victims to them. There is a difference between trusting (verb) and being trusted or trustworthy (adjective). Maybe that better differentiates what I was trying to say by not “giving” trust. Also, I think Matthew 10:16 references this difficult tension we must strike in life. All of this is not for the faint of heart and surely demonstrates how far God’s ways are above our own. Thanks for the “stretching” this required of me, my friend!

      Blessings to you!

  • Mary

    Your insight is so clear and so affirmative and practical. When my husband and I divorced there were almost no “yeses” to the questions above. God has since entered my life and showed me healing and understanding of relationships that I never had before. It’s a beautiful thing but I am still apprehensive about beginning a new relationship because of my past hurts. Thank you for being so real and for continuing this series to teach me. Blessings my friend!

    • And I can tell that you’ve made enlisting support a part of your practice and priorities, Mary. I’m sorry that you’ve had the loss of your marriage and now the loss of your mom, but God is redeeming those losses in your life, my friend. You shine beautifully for Him! *Hugs*

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  • Kim Adams Morgan

    Hi Beth, Another great post with so many checkpoints along the way, not only for spouses moving forward, but anyone needing to reconcile with someone. Thank you for the help and the link up, friend. Healing prayers to you.

    • You’re so very welcome, Kim. I’ve really appreciated your encouragement in this series. You’ve been a blessing, my friend!

  • I try to work towards earning trust by creating the right environment for God to show me what is required of me. It is not always easy but God always helps me.

    • Yes, creating that right environment is what support is all about, Ugochi. God wants us to rely on Him and help carry one another’s burdens. It blesses the burdened and the burden-sharers! Thanks for stopping by to weigh in, my friend!

  • JosephPote

    Beth, you’ve provided yet another excellent post on this important topic of forgiveness and reconciliation. I absolutely love how you’re handling this series. Reading today’s post, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with you.
    I esepcially liked (and tweeted) this:

  • bluecottonmemory

    Boundaries (Cloud and Townesend), The Love Languages (Chapman) and Spiritual Gifts (Don and Katie Fortune) – are must-have books for healthy relationships. The prayer of Jabez is a prayer for boundaries extended – but we cannot extend our boundaries, grow – until we know where our boundaries are right now. I think healthy boundary checks create a healthy marriage. I am fortunate – my husband is an administrator gift and server love language – and he is open to boundary discussions and checks. Like any farmer with his boundaries – it requires maintenance and dedication and sometimes hard work. I am really enjoying your series, Beth – sometimes we all need to recheck our boundaries!

    • Some of my favorite books, Maryleigh! And I’m so glad you have a husband who is open to boundary discussions and working on the relationship in light of these adjustments. Not many spouses want to do this, at least not many in “messy marriages.” Hmmm, might just be a correlation there! 🙂 Thanks for coming by and adding to the discussion, my friend!

  • Megan@DoNotDisturb

    Such an excellent set of questions I need to work through in a a relationship outside of my marriage that is in need of serious help. Will definitely ponder through these and move forward by the Grace of God and the leading of the Spirit.

    Megan

    • I’m so glad that this is helpful for you, Megan. I hope that you’re able to navigate this relationship issue better because you’re better supported. Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

  • Beth, I love what you have said about waiting on the Lord. It takes time and learning to really understand what should be done in conflicted relationships. It’s never an overnight journey.

    • It’s a reality of relationships, Ngina. We often want the changes to occur quickly, but God often uses the “wait” to deepen our faith. It’s a good thing, even though it doesn’t necessarily “feel good.” 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement, my friend!

  • Marie Steinhardt

    Hi Beth, I Love the questions. These are great for everyone and I will be sharing them with my husband for future discussion. I want us to be on the same page and to really think about ensuring our marriage is heading in the right direction. God’s Word has so much to reveal-really love Col. 3: 12-17!

    • Yes, Marie, God’s word gives us so much support and guidance, as do our godly and trusted friends. I’m grateful for the ways you’ve provided support for me in all the challenges I face in life, girlfriend! I thank God for you!

  • Denise Hisey

    Hi Beth, Reconciliation is a challenging topic. I reconciled with my mom after a 12 year estrangement and the process has some similarities to what you’ve described.
    Relationships are complicated and require considerable effort.

    • Yes, they do require effort, Denise! Reconciliation is not for the weak or for cowards! We really must be wise and prepare ourselves for the difficult conversations we will eventually have. “In the abundance of counselors,” we will have so much more success than trying to figure this out on our own. Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

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