amy patton

apples to apples

amy patton
apples to apples

Po-tay-toe, Po-tat-oe. 
Same, same. They are the same thing, no matter how you say it. They taste the same, look the same, smell the same. #same.

In my experience, most people think forgiveness and trust are the same thing. There seems to be this misconception that they are a package deal. “If I forgive someone, then I must also trust them.” Or “If I can’t trust someone, then I can’t forgive them either.” But this, my friends, is simply poppycock. They are two very different creatures. Instead of apples to apples, it’s more like apples to chili cheese dogs. They are both food, but that’s where the similarities end. One is always good for you and the other will tear you up if you aren’t ready for it. 

Let’s talk forgiveness. In relationship, forgiveness could only require a heartfelt apology and a quick release of the anger in our heart. But sometimes the hurt cuts us so deep, we can’t even catch a breath. It’s the kind of pain or betrayal that slices you to the bone and leaves you for dead. That pain can take years to move past, or maybe there isn’t any getting past it at all. But even in the midst of the soul crushing pain, there always comes a point in our journey where it’s time to forgive. It’s time to release the anger, the hurt and the bitterness to create space for something else. It is a leap of faith to let go of something that has felt so right for so long. This is the hardest part because it FEELS like forgiving is saying that what they did was ok. It FEELS like we are just a big ol’ punching bag, coming back for more. It FEELS like letting them off the hook. Yet in this place, we must fight the feelings with the facts.

Fact: unforgiveness doesn’t hurt anybody, but us. The offender is usually off, living their life, tip-toeing thru the tulips and have a handy dandy time doing it. We are not even a blip on their radar. But every day that we sit in our unforgiveness, we are drinking another glass of poison. It raises our blood pressure. It causes our stomach to turn and our hearts to burn. There isn’t anything productive about it. 

The Lord promises to be our defender, but only if we give Him the opportunity. As long as we hold onto unforgiveness, we do not give Him space to work on our behalf. Forgiveness takes them off our hook and puts them on God’s hook. Romans 12:19 says so. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written ‘Vengence is mine, I will repay’ says the Lord.” How can God go to work if you won’t turn over the problem?

He is also very specific about how many times we are to forgive. In Matthew 18:21, Peter is all “Hey Jesus, how many times do I have to forgive these jokers? Like, is 7 good enough?” Jesus replied “Nope. 70x7.” WHY????? Why God, do you ask me to forgive the people who broke my heart and tore my world apart? Hint: it is not for the sake of the other person. It’s because He wants good things for us and to keep us from harm. He knows joy and unforgiveness can’t coexist in the same space. Forgiveness, just like an apple, is always good for us.

On the other hand, we have to deal with a little thing called trust. Trust is built thru consistency over time, but can be destroyed in a matter of seconds. Once it is destroyed, deciding whether to rebuild can be a tough call. There are a few things to consider:
*Has the person who broke your trust come into full disclosure? 
*Have they owned their part and been honest about the events that took place? 
*Did they offer a sincere apology? 
*Is this the first time this has happened OR does this person have a history of breaking trust and wounding others?  

If these answers fall in the negative, it’s probably wise to file that person in the “not safe” category and move on. But if the answers are a positive, the next question we must answer is this: 

*Do I want to do the work involved to rebuild trust with this person? 
*Is this relationship worth the investment of time and emotional energy required? 

Even if your answers here are a resounding yes, there is still a season of rebuilding ahead. 

NEWS FLASH: the burden to rebuild trust in a relationship falls solely on the one who broke it. The other party’s part is just to remain open. Is that BRAND NEW INFORMATION?!?! I know all of this can sound like a lot to wade thru, but here is how trust is like a chili cheese dog. If you don’t do the prep work necessary and just dive in, there’s a pretty good chance it will tear you up. Just like a chili cheese dog requires a preemptive chug of Pepto, rebuilding trust requires a heavy dose of soul searching. There is no benefit in circumventing the process and there is no substitute for consistency over time. 

The bottom line is you can forgive someone, no matter how horrific the wrong, if you chose to hand them over to the One who promises to take care it. You can also forgive someone and not trust them farther than you can throw them. You get to decide who has earned the right to have a seat at your table. Forgiveness is a necessity; trust is optional.