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“I trust you.” Three little words that have quite  the impact. Three little words that most people are careful to use. For the most part, one must earn trust. A person must keep their promises, demonstrating that he or she has integrity before gaining another person’s trust. She must prove to be honest, upright, true to her word. He must say what he means and mean what he says.

We all need someone who we call “my person.” He or she, whether a friend, family member, or spouse, is the one person who can be trusted whole-heartedly. This person is the one with whom you celebrate good news. This person is the one to whom you vent about the cashier who shortchanged you at the store. This person is the one you call when life falls apart because you know they will keep your confidence and help you put the pieces back together.

However, trust is fragile; it can easily be broken. Now I’m fully aware that even the most trustworthy friend slips up every now and then. They forget a lunch date or overlook something important on occasion. But, for the most part, their track record is solid. Sure, our trust in them might get a little bruised every now and then, but for the most part, we can forgive the occasional mishap and our relationship with them heals and remains strong.

But, what about when trust is completely shattered? What happens when the offense is so bad that trust cannot be restored? It’s a hard question for a Christian. We are often told to    forgive and forgive often, which is true. Forgiveness is an important part of our faith.  However, what I feel we often don’t take into consideration is what happens after forgiveness.

When we forgive someone, we are giving up our right to retribution as well as cutting both parties free from the past. Through forgiveness, a new start has been created at which point both parties ask, “Where do we go from here?”

At this point, you can decide to seek reconciliation and give the relationship another shot. However, at this point the option to part ways amicably in the spirit of goodwill, is also on the table.

Sometimes the latter option is the only option.

If the relationship is toxic and trust cannot be restored, the relationship is hindered from  maturing and both persons are at risk of failing  to grow and mature. In this case, it is okay to    release the relationship. You can go your way and let the other person go their way. Forgiveness has now allowed the opportunity for each person to be free of distrust, which holds one in the past as he or she questions everything that takes place based on past offenses. Now you and the other person are free to make new, healthy relationships that offer the benefits that healthy relationships bring, such as support, encouragement, and reliability.

Yes. We are to forgive, and we are to forgive often. Forgiveness, though, does not necessarily mean we are to remain in toxic, harmful relationships. Forgiveness may be a means of opening a door that allows each person to move forward in their own direction, free from a past that was detrimental to growth and development. Sometimes, all we can do is say, “I forgive you. Now, may God bless you and keep you as you go.” And sometimes, that’s enough. Amen. 

Blessings, Pastor John