I recently to spoke at The Uptown Lunch, a monthly event sponsored by my church during which the pastor asked a number of questions related to how I got where I am today. I shared that after three relationships that included physical abuse, rape and infidelity followed by abandonment, I didn’t like men. I wanted nothing to do with them for a very long time. Recognizing that I am now a well-adjusted happily-married woman, Pastor Stephen asked, “So, how did you learn to trust again.”
The easy answer
Don’t. “That’s right, don’t trust again. Stay out of relationships.” The devil whispered, “You’re a self-made, independent woman. You don’t need anyone.”
The father of lies wants to separate the sheep from the flock and make them ineffective for service. After all, if you hate half the population, can you really love the God who created them? What are you saying to God about his handiwork? And what does it do for you to hold onto your bitterness?
“Holding on to anger is like drinking rat poison and expecting the rat to die” (Anonymous).
Since the easy answer is wrong, what do we do? Let’s start with what God says:
1.God created us for relationship.
For this reason He spoke the two greatest commandments: “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 37, 39).
- God planned for us to have friends.
Proverbs 11:30 says, “The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.
- God instituted marriage.
Genesis 2:18 says, ‘Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”’
- God called us to choose friends wisely.
Proverbs 12:26, “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” (NIV).
- Friends can betray us.
Proverbs 18:24, “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”
- Betrayal has consequences.
Proverbs 18:19a, “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city.”
- We are called to forgive.
Jesus taught in Matthew 5:43-45a: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
- Relationship requires stewardship of your heart.
Proverbs 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (NASB).
What does this mean for you trusting again?
How can you trust that cheat/men/women again? Perhaps this can best be answered by the “5 W’s.”
- Who –should you trust? That’s a different question than who you should forgive. God tells us to love and pray for our enemies, but guard our hearts. We should only trust those who are truly repentant … not apologetic. Repentant means they agree with God that they have sinned and they change. The deeper the wounds, the more help required, especially as it relates to domestic/sexual abuse. You may never be able to trust a particular person with your heart again, but you can trust God to take care of them. They are His, after all.
- What – trust did they break? Was it a real trust issue or something from your history or family of origin? I didn’t trust men. That means I let three men cause me to distrust the other 3,477,829,635 men on earth.
- When – should we trust again? That depends on the circumstances … and maybe not in this lifetime.
- Where – Physical distancing is critical with abuse. You should not trust an abuser without significant intervention. Get away until those wiser than I tell you. It may be never. Temporary separation may be called for with infidelity. However, God does not call us to divorce an unfaithful spouse, but rather permits it “as a concession to our hard hearts” (Matthew 19:8).
- Why – Because God wants us to trust Him with the outcome. Other than the Bible and the Holy Spirit, there is no better mirror to our spiritual situation than a close relationship, especially our spouse. God may not be calling you to restore your relationships, but He is calling you to trust Him in all things.
How do you restore trust?
- Recognize how you got wounded. I made poor relationship choices. No, I did not deserve the outcome, but I should not have been there to begin with.
- Get educated. Over 90 percent of parents do not know how to do relationship, so how could they teach you? It’s not their fault – their parents didn’t know either. Get relationship training. For example, Living Water Counseling hosts “How To …” seminars most Saturdays which teach relationship skills.
- Trust God. I lost every material thing through my trials, but I gained everything that mattered. God had my back and restored me in ways I could not have dreamed. And had I not walked those paths, I cannot imagine the weak soul I would be today. Thank you, Jesus, for my trials.
Patricia Hartman is a forensic CPA/partner at Kofsky, Hartman & Weinger, PA. (www.khwcpa.com), a speaker, author of “The Christian Prenuptial Agreement” (www.ChristianPrenuptial.com), president of South Florida Word Weavers and a board member of Living Water Christian Counseling.