Pastor Jim discusses broken trust in relationships, how to rebuild that trust, and when and how to move on.
Trust takes time to build, but can be lost in a moment
Trust is such a valuable item. It takes a lot of time, energy, and consistency to build trust but it can be lost in a moment. I like to go to the dictionary to ground myself in the source of the word. Webster defines trust as: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.
The interesting thing about trust is that we do not think about it very much until it is broken. The results of a broken trust can be very devastating. The reaction is usually one of withdrawal to some extent. The more the trust is broken the more retreat we take.
Broken trust = broken relationship
Trust is a foundational element of any relationship. When trust is broken so is the relationship. Can the relationship be repaired? If it is it will be because of a concentrated effort on the parts of all parties in the relationship. (I say all parties because trust can be lost in a group relationship as well as in individual relationships.)
Another sad element about broken trusts is that too often the one that is injured is the only one that cares about the continuation of the relationship. The other person either cares less about rebuilding the trust or gives that impression.
If you are the recipient of a broken trust, consider the following to either rebuild or move on.
Don’t take the emotional response
If you value the relationship, I urge you to not take the emotional response of fleeing, fighting, or ignoring that it happened. These are the normal reactions we take when we are hit with the reality of a broken trust.
Gain perspective and pray
It would be more advantageous to take a moment to gain perspective and pray. Ask God to minister to your spirit and emotions and enable you to gain a balanced view. Take a deep breath and get in control of your emotional responses. An improper emotional response to broken trust can add injury and damage to an already difficult situation.
Share your perspective – instead of being accusatory
Share your perspective with the one who broke the trusts. Rather than blurting out ‘You’ followed by an accusation, begin by speaking about what you observed and that when they did an action or statement it made you feel ______. This approach will allow you to open the subject in a way that they will not be automatically set to react. They may react but at least you are not contributing to it.
Listen! – and give the benefit of the doubt
Listen to what they have to say. You may have misunderstood the action or words. Give them the benefit of doubt and see if there is a way to move toward mutual understanding and acceptance.
Be Christ like – make way for restoration
If they are receptive to your action and either express remorse or correct your understanding, be Christ like and make the way of restoration an open door for them.
Offer suggestions to rebuild trust
If they confirm the broken trust consider ways to offer where they can begin to rebuild the trust. It will not be a button you or they can switch on but the effort to rebuild the trust can actually make it stronger.
Should they confirm the broken trust and not want to initiate reconciliation, express your disappointment in the impact on the relationship. You do not have to continue in abuse; however, I suggest that it would be very meaningful and healthy for you to suggest that you are open to discussing ways that the trust can be restored and the relationship moved to a healthy and mutually rewarding position. Leave the door open so that when they come to a point of regret they will be able to find the way to restoration. The important thing is to not participate in the damage by adding injury to injury. You may not feel like it but be Christ like in the way you handle it.
MOVING ON FROM BROKEN TRUST
The damage can linger
You may arrive at a time when you are not able to rebuild the trust. The person may not want to do so, their repeated actions do not allow you to rebuild, or they may have moved out of your life. However, the damage of the broken trust can linger long after the action. This can become a prison for your emotions and hinder you from being able to move into future healthy relationships.
An opportunity to grow
The injury from this brokenness will penetrate beyond the psychic and emotions and into the spirit. There is only one who can work at this level with you to bring healing and hope. The Holy Spirit is standing ready and able to partner with you in this healing. He can do so instantly but I have not seen him choose to do so very often. It appears that this is an area that God can use to help us grow in many dimensions of our life. The interesting element of what He will do is to focus on the very thing that you need – trust! You will begin by trusting him and allowing this trust to build and flow outward to rebuild your trust in others.
Seek help from your pastor
God has drawn many to work in partnership with him. There are many pastors and counsellors that are trained and gifted to help you sort through the damage of a broken trust. It is not a sign of weakness to seek their help. I believe it is a sign of wisdom and courage to seek such guidance.
Focus on making wise choices
Building trust in others is a process that begins with small steps. There needs to be as much focus on your ability to make wise choices in others as there is on their sincerity to build trust with you. While withdrawing from others and cocooning from life is not a wise choice, neither is jumping into a new relationship or relationships without properly understanding what you are using as a base of reference to make these choices. There is so much truth in the fact that we continue to have the same results in life because we do not learn and continue to make the same poor choices. Develop mature healthy relationships with those of your own gender who can help you develop a balanced and proper perspective of life. This can be a valuable gift.
Find balance and satisfaction in your own life before seeking new relationships
Stop feeding the past broken trust! It is too easy to keep giving pity parties or to feed the memories of a broken trust than to move on with life. Find a new diet of healthy stories in the way you move forward with your life. Do not look for a quick fix or another person to make you complete. Find balance and satisfaction in your own life before you attempt to build a new relationship with the opposite gender.
Do not feel rushed!
Time is on your side! Do not allow the element of time to force you to make choices that can add to misery. You have all the time you need to make right choices.
Learn from these experiences
I know that it is not easy to move on when trust has been broken. I do know that much can be learned from these experiences in life. You and I have little or no control over the behavior of others. However, we have complete control over our choices and our responses. God is not a crutch and his principles are not cute little stories. Seek the deeper understanding of his principles and his guidance to enable you to not only trust again, but do so with vigor.