4 Biblical Steps to Rebuilding Trust
Trust is the essential cornerstone of every relationship. But how do we become trustworthy? And how do we regain trust in someone when they’ve done something to betray our trust? As essential as trust is for healthy relationships, trust is also tricky. In my counseling training, I was taught, “Trust is the result of trustworthy actions.” This is a handy description, but it needs some nuance to be effective. The obvious question is “What are trustworthy actions?” The answer may seem easy at first blush, but relationships of any length quickly reveal that what one person conceives of as trustworthy activity often goes unnoticed or underappreciated by the other.
We can outline the process of rebuilding trust in four steps: (1) admit and repent, (2) Practice forgiveness, (3) recognize and encourage trustworthy actions, and (4) trust in God.
Step 1: Admit and Repent
First be wary of clichés and pat answers that promise quick solutions to the problem you're facing. By your own testimony, it's taken many years to build the wall of bitterness and suspicion that now stands at the heart of your relationship. You can't expect to tear it down in a single day. Restoring trust takes time. It's a process that requires both an accurate understanding and an appropriate application of the principle of forgiveness. But you can't begin to move in this direction until you know what the words " trust" and "forgiveness" really mean. Trust is something that has to be earned. I’ve created a daily devotional that walks you through my prayer strategy for asking the Lord to help me repent and forgive. It utilizes scripture, worship, praise and prayer using Bible-based methods to connect you with Christ. You can get your copy by clicking here.
It's a mistake to assume that a person is worthy of trust simply because he's expressed remorse and you've offered him forgiveness. That's just the beginning. As has already been indicated, trust can be broken fairly quickly, but the rebuilding process can be lengthy and tedious. This is especially true where the offenses in question were unusually hurtful or if they've been repeated numerous times. When you've been wounded, it's difficult to trust again unless you can see tangible evidence that things are going to be different in the future. So if you're the spouse taking the initiative to restore the relationship, look for change and insist on seeing it implemented before moving forward. At the same time, don't make unrealistic demands. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, you might reasonably expect the following responses from your partner: A willingness to take personal responsibility for the damage done without shifting blame or adopting evasive tactics.
A determination to come up with a precise and definitive plan designed to prevent further offenses. A commitment to join you in seeking Christian counseling. This would include an active resolve to sort through all problematic issues and to make all the necessary changes. Patience and forbearance in allowing the wounded spouse the time necessary to heal without undue pressure.