Forgiveness is Not Trust

A husband had an affair which devastated the wife. Later, he repented and begged the wife to take him back. She agreed, but set strict conditions: he has to tell her every hour on the hour where he is and what he is doing. He protested, “I thought you have forgiven me!” The wife shot back, “Yes, but trust has been lost.”


In our last blog, I wrote that forgiveness does not mean the absence of pain. Here, I will say that forgiveness is not necessarily the restoration of trust. Not immediately, anyway.


Forgiveness is one thing; trust is another. Forgiveness says: you have sinned against me, but I will not use your sin against you. You hurt me, but I will absorb the pain. I give up the right to retaliate or to demand compensation.


But the pain makes it difficult for us to trust the offender. We are afraid of being betrayed again and be exposed to further hurt. To cite a practical example, suppose you are a business owner and caught your employee stealing company funds. You may forgive him, but I doubt you will give him the keys to the petty cash box.


In due time, we may grow to extend grace to the offender and take the risk of being vulnerable again. But the reality is that trust, once lost, is hard to for the offender to earn it back.


So the next time you can’t trust the offender anymore, don’t fall for the guilt trip of “Aha! You have an unforgiving spirit.” After all, if we suffer from a broken bone, we need a safe place to heal. Why should a broken heart be any different?


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