In a presentation other day which rambled over topics of self-help, speaker at one point asked group, “Why do we forgive?”
“For ourselves,” group muttered.
“You’re only third group I’ve spoken to who’s known that,” speaker replied.
FORGIVE FOR YOURSELF
Most of us do realize these days that we forgive for ourselves. The perpetrator of act requiring forgiveness has done what they’ve done, which largely can’t be undone, and probably are getting on with their life. If we continue to harbor rancor and resentment, we make ourselves doubly victim. Whether or not we forgive other person makes difference mostly to us, not them. If we do forgive, we can then, like them, get on with our lives.
Forgiveness, then, can be unilateral. While sometimes we will do this with another person, listening to their explanation and/or accepting their apology, and saying words, “I forgive you,” we can also do this without other. We can do this on paper, journaling or writing person a letter we never send, in a therapist’s office, confiding in a trusted friend, in our own minds, or in prayer or meditation.
TRUST IS BILATERAL
Trust, however, is another thing.
Whether act requiring forgiveness is a lie, 10 years of drinking, or an extramarital affair, if relationship with other person is to continue, forgiveness is just beginning. Regained trust is goal, and another beginning.
When you seek to forgive a person who’s harmed you and to continue in relationship, you need to work on trust aspects. Understand that this, unlike forgiveness, is not a “given.” You can grant forgiveness. The other must earn back trust, and you have a right to expect this be done.
Haven’t you heard someone who’s had an affair saying, “It’s like she doesn’t trust me. I told her it was over. I don’t understand why she’s so suspicious.” And then they go on to name acts of offended spouse they consider “paranoid,” such as monitoring cell phone bills, checking on time away from home, and watching closely at social functions.
Trust is hard to build, very hard to rebuild once shattered. If you want to earn back trust, here are some things you will have to do, consistently and over time. The onus is on you to over-communicate and over-act until fragile thread of trust becomes stronger.