One of the saddest moments in ministry is when a couple comes for counsel after infidelity has occurred in the marriage. There are always mitigating circumstances for why things arrived at the place they did. Whatever the reason may be, in many cases, a desire for healing, restoration and a healthy marriage is still present. But how does restoration happen??? How can a marriage be mended after the most basic commitments to one another have been shattered? When trust has been broken can it ever be fully restored? Can we rebuild trust in a broken relationship?
The restoration of trust is difficult and requires a great deal of work. Many times the people involved simply do not have the desire to do the hard work. Restoring trust is a long process and many times people do not have the patience for what must be done to do so. So the first questions are simply ones: Are you ready to work hard? Do you have the patience for a lengthy process of rebuilding trust? If the answer to these questions is yes then there is hope for a renewed and mended relationship.
Trust between human beings is based on the same principle upon which we trust God. Trust is a matter of dependence upon the character and ability of someone. In the case of God, we know His character is perfect and His ability unlimited. Thus, we can completely trust in God with the whole of our heart (Prov. 3:5-6). But in the case of fallible human beings we learn to trust based upon observation. We learn that another person is consistent in character and reliable to do what they say. We learn that another person has certain abilities upon which we can rely. Over time our observation allows an opportunity for dependence upon the character and ability of the person we desire to trust.
Trust the Lord with all Your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will straight your paths.” — Proverbs 3:5-6
When trust is broken the work of “building trust” must begin anew. The process of observation must begin again. Over time, as the offended party sees the changed life, mended character and renewed ability of the one who broke trust there can be a new found opportunity for a healthy relationship. But these things come with time! There are no shortcuts! There must be a lot of work! There must be a LOT of prayer!
A mentor once told me that I should work as though everything in life depended upon me and pray knowing everything depends upon God. I know my mentor did not come up with this idea on his own but rather picked it up from something he heard or read. However, the truth is certain and timeless. In the case of rebuilding trust between two fallible, broken, sinful human beings this truth finds perfect illustration. Work hard, pray hard and be patient! The prospects of a renewed and healthy relationship, whether one of marriage, friendship or family, is real and possible if you work and pray with diligence and faith.
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