Question: How do I forgive my spouse, and what is the difference between forgiving him and trusting him?
This is about the weightiest of all topics, isn’t it? Let me start by saying that I believe we are all called to forgive everyone for what they’ve done to us, but I do not believe we are called to blindly trust everyone.
Here’s the thing about forgiveness. It’s about you, it’s not about him. If you are in a perpetually bad marriage or your husband is cheating on you or lying to you all the time, this will be an uphill, daily battle. Every night before you go to bed, you could probably benefit from taking a few minutes with a journal and saying, “Here’s what happened today…this and this and this. And I am choosing to forgive him. And I am choosing to remind myself that Jesus died on the cross for me as much as for him. And I am asking you to help me forgive fully and freely.”
But this does not mean you forget, which ties in to the difference between forgiving and trusting.
Say, for instance, your husband is looking at pornography every night before he comes to bed, and he lies to you about it. Do you need to forgive this? Yes. It will be hard and feel impossible, but you do. Because this is about keeping your heart free and open; it has nothing to do with his behavior stopping or changing, or even if he apologizes or not.
But do you need to believe him when he lies to you? No. A liar cannot be believed.
Do you need to act as if it’s totally okay that your husband has a pornography addiction? No. Because an addiction is not okay; it’s not what God wants for him or for your marriage.
A reminder here: you cannot muster up trust for someone who has broken trust. You can only pray for an open heart to be ready to receive someone’s changes and amends. But it is the person’s responsibility who broke the trust to rebuild it. Not yours, bottomline. So take that load off your shoulders, sweet one.
Your part is to keep your side of the street clean. Meaning, you follow God. And you confess your sins. And you have an accountability partner.
Your part is to gently confront him. You tell him what behaviors are unacceptable to you and what changes you feel need to be made. You then tell him that you’ll be following up with him in such-and-such a time frame.
Your part is to pray for him. No one can pray more intimately for someone than their spouse. You know the details of his heart and life like no one else.
Your part is to follow through. If you set out some tasks of accountability, you must be consistent and check in to make sure he’s done his part. If not, then you move on to the next step of your plan.
Do you see where I’m going with all this? Forgiveness is something you do with your heart wide open. Trust is something you let someone else rebuild with your eyes wide open.
Love is not blind. That is cultural, not scriptural. Be wise and discerning. Forgive all, but trust only the trustworthy.
Holy Spirit, please make us able to see who people really are and help us know how to love wisely. Amen.
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