Forgiveness is the Path to Rebuilding Trust – 8 Principles to Remember

i-forgive-youSuffering a betrayal of trust can be one of the most difficult and challenging times in your life. Depending on the severity of the offense, some people choose not to pursue recovery of the relationship. For those that do, the process of restoration can take days, weeks, months, or even years. If you choose to invest the time and energy to rebuild a relationship with someone who has broken your trust, you have to begin with forgiveness.

I’ve experienced this personally in my own life and can attest to the fact that trust can be rebuilt and the relationship can be stronger and healthier than it was before. But it requires the parties involved to step out in faith, invest the time and effort, and be accountable to each other.

There are many misconceptions about forgiveness, like it’s a display of weakness, it lets the offending party off the hook, or opens the door to people taking advantage of you. Those are misconceptions for a reason: they’re wrong. As you consider forgiving someone who has betrayed your trust, here are 8 principles to remember:

1. Forgiveness is a choice – It’s not a feeling or an attitude. Forgiving someone is a mental decision, a choice, that you have complete control over. You don’t have to wait until you “feel” like forgiving someone.

2. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting – You don’t have to forget the betrayal in order to forgive. You may never forget what happened, and those memories will creep in occasionally, but you can choose to forgive and move on.

3. Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate consequences – Some people are reticent to give forgiveness because somehow they think it lets the other person off-the-hook from what they did wrong. Not true. Consequences should still be enforced even if you grant forgiveness.

4. Forgiving doesn’t make you a weakling or a doormat – Forgiveness shows maturity and depth of character. If you allow repeated violations of your trust then you’re a doormat. But forgiving others while adhering to healthy boundaries is a sign of strength, not weakness.

5. Don’t forgive just to avoid pain – It can be easy to quickly grant forgiveness in order to avoid conflict and pain in the relationship. This usually is an attempt at conflict avoidance rather than true forgiveness. Take the appropriate amount of time to think through the situation and what will be involved in repairing the relationship before you grant forgiveness.

6. Don’t use forgiveness as a weapon – If you truly forgive someone, you won’t use their past behavior as a tool to harm them whenever you feel the need to get a little revenge.

7. Forgiveness isn’t dependent on the other person showing remorse – Whether or not the person who violated your trust apologizes or shows remorse for their behavior, the decision to forgive rests solely with you. Withholding forgiveness doesn’t hurt the other person, it only hurts you, and it’s not going to change anything that happened in the past. Forgiveness is up to you.

8. Forgiveness is freedom – Holding on to pain and bitterness drains your energy and negatively colors your outlook on life. Granting forgiveness allows you to let go of the negative emotions that hold you back and gives you the ability to move forward with freedom and optimism.

Forgiveness is the first step in rebuilding a relationship with someone who has betrayed your trust. If you skip this step you take the risk of trying to rebuild your relationship on shifting sand and eventually trust will crumble again. Start with forgiveness, you won’t regret it.

10 Comments on “Forgiveness is the Path to Rebuilding Trust – 8 Principles to Remember

  1. Love your emails. Love your teachings. Loved this one. Love that in point three you understand forgiveness and justice are separate issues and neither satisfies the demands of the other. Most don’t get that. Well done. You are very good. Have agreed with every point of every teaching but have a question about one of these points. Question about point seven.

    I am a person of faith, Christian. I used to believe point seven exactly as you do. Forgive isn’t dependent on repentance etc. I agree with number eight, ie removing bitterness and anger and resentment and all negative emotions that keep you in bondage. But like forgiveness doesn’t mean no consequences, I now see releasing the negative harmful emotions within as separate from extended forgiveness without. It was a specific scripture I read that went against what I had been taught. It is Luke 17:4 in which Jesus simply says, ” if he repents, forgive him”. It made me rethink this. As even God doesn’t forgive until people repent. If he did everyone would be saved. But the requirement actually to being saved or receiving God’s forgiveness, as Peter said in acts 2 is repentance. So I reread the forgiveness passages and they are in the context of repentance. I’m open. Could be wrong. I believe the offended should release the offense as you said. But now for the sake of the offender or sinner from God’s perspective , should let them come to a place of repentance just like God does with us in salvation. Otherwise everyone be saved whether they repented of their sins or not. Anyway, you may not be person if faith so quoting a verse might not matter but this is commonly taught and I was curious about your thoughts on this.

    As an aside, I found David’s stuff as I was writing a series on trust. It’s explicitly Christian. I based it on scripture. I’m a minister, but would base it on scripture even if not. So Lots bible it it. See crisis of trust . But I had seven attributes that build trust. Then found his eight pillars and was excited. Six basically same though couple words different. I emphasize one he doesn’t really and he had two I didn’t. Loved it very much. There is a reason trust was chosen in the motto in God we trust. Not love, or hope, or believe etc. It’s the foundational value. And we’ve lost it. I pray Godspeed on his calling and mission, especially in America.



    “” wrote: > a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: none; color: #0088cc; } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff; } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: #11729E !important; color: #fff !important; } /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } */ Randy Conley posted: “Suffering a betrayal of trust can be one of the most difficult and challenging times in your life. Depending on the severity of the offense, some people choose not to pursue recovery of the relationship. For those that do, the process of restoration can t”

    • Hi Rick,

      Thanks for your wonderful comments. As a fellow Believer you have given me something to think about. I haven’t previously made the connection with repentance and forgiveness. You also made a good point that it is possible to release the negative emotions from I forgiveness separately from forgiving someone.

      Dave Horsager’s pillars of trust is good stuff.

      Take care, Randy

    • Joke,

      Rick, I thought the bible verse you quoted says if they repent. Luke 17:4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

      The number 7 point to my understanding says you can choose to forgive people even when they didn’t apologies or feel remorseful of what they have done. “Forgiveness isn’t dependent on the other person showing remorse”

      We can forgive others so that our Father can forgive us our own sins. Acts 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,

      Thank you,

  2. Great points on forgiveness, Randy. Too often, we forget that forgiveness still should include honest conversations. Forgiveness needs to embrace honesty and empathy. As tough as it is, we need to clear the air as well as forgive. Thanks for really highlighting all the key elements of forgiveness. Jon

    • Thanks for your comments Jon. I love that you called out the importance of honest and empathetic conversations. I see that as the vehicle for expressing forgiveness.

      Have a good week!


  3. This is so very true from my life experience. Forgiveness is a relief. Give yourself a chance to move on, rather than lingering in what happened in the past you can’t change. Grudge is bad for health.

  4. Randy, a powerful and underrated trait that people need to keep in mind. Without forgiveness, barriers continue to impede trust and progress. It requires humility and understanding. Great points, Radny, and a great article that I’ll share.

    • Thank you Paul. I think having a humble spirit is critical for being able to express forgiveness. We’ve all messed up and needed forgiveness and approaching these situations with humility and compassion help everyone involved.


  5. Pingback: FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday | Coram Deo ~

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