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The Loss of Trust

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

The pain of a loved one lying to you cuts deeply. It’s disappointing wounds damage (and can destroy) the foundational elements of a relationship; respect and trust.

Lies, betrayal and infidelity cause such significant relational breakdown, not only because we grieve for the loss of trust, but also the loss of hope. Pain is significantly more discouraging without hope present, as hope is vital for healing grief and loss.

My heart sinks heavily. As I sit here writing this I’m speaking from experience, this is a current situation I’m in now. It’s deeply saddening that a person I trusted has betrayed me; dishonouring the friendship and love we built.

It’s discouraging when you can’t see how you would be able to trust them again (if ever). Trust doesn’t grow on trees; it doesn’t come easy; it is earned by experience over time and yet can be diminished to smithereens with one swift blow.

The question arises ‘do I even want to trust them again?’ and I think to myself, ‘you might as well ask me if I want to feel like a total fool again, and the answer is not a chance.’ However, having trusted someone that betrayed you does not make you a fool (although it may feel that way); it merely makes them a liar and you the one that was deceived.

Be careful not to automatically blame yourself for what ‘feels’ like a mistake. Sometimes we learn from a young age ‘something went wrong it must be my fault’ and this becomes a default feeling that rises up when something goes wrong. But don’t be so quick to assume you are at fault before there is any evidence to support it. Perhaps ask yourself ‘how did I contribute to this?’ but remember you are not responsible for another person’s choices. Ever. Just because you ‘feel’ at fault does not automatically make it true, be careful of emotion-based reasoning here my friends.

You trusted someone and simply put this means ‘to believe true’, so you believed them to be true. If this was you, consider that trust is a form of goodwill and isn’t something to feel ashamed of, or guilty over.

I have noticed in life that some people who do not trust others are more likely to be untrustworthy themselves; perhaps it’s due to a projection on others of their own ways. It’s important to note here this is not always the case, perhaps they sadly learnt not to trust others through a great deal of pain.

In either case the liar, me and you are all in the same boat, because we are all untrustworthy to some degree.

Proverbs says a few things about liars and take courage because none of them are good. Take courage because there is hope and I will get to that soon, but first, let’s see what truth says about lying.

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. Proverbs 12:22

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Luke 16:10

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. Proverbs 10:9

A fortune made by people who tell lies amounts to nothing and leads to death. Proverbs 21:6 & 8

A poor man is better than a liar. Proverbs 19:22

A passage from Luke must have snuck in there, let’s call it a bonus verse.. It’s a good one though isn’t it? I love how the Gospel makes it so clear, what is good and what not to do, essentially all for our benefit.

I stop and consider when, why and how much I lie..

How about you?

I realise that I allow myself to lie when there seems to be little or no consequence. But the belief that there is no consequence to a seemingly little lie, is a complete lie.

I also lie when there is something I want that without lying I possibly wouldn’t get.. at the heart of which is selfishness which makes me want to change. I’m certainly not proud to admit it, but among a fallen sinful human race here I am, a liar too, just like the person who lied to me.

There is always a consequence of lying, no matter how small the lie. Each lie we tell as we silence our conscience (that is so wonderfully valuable) is teaching it to be silent. That inner voice that tells us ‘this is not good’, ‘don’t do it’ and ‘you shouldn’t have done that.. you need to make it right’.

But you ignored it; I ignored it too, we have all lied to people that deserved better, people that made the mistake of trusting us.

We are broken lying humans. I dare say all of us lie at some point, but when do we stop it! When will we stop hurting the people around us, stop hurting ourselves as our conscience becomes quieter.. When will we stop deceiving ourselves into thinking it’s ok ‘if it’s just a little lie’. Is a little lie worth the risk of losing a dear friend? or someone you love and had wonderful hopes for a future with?

I daresay not, and while you may fear their response to your honesty, their response is their choice. If the short term personal gain isn’t more valuable than the trust and respect of a loved one, don’t lie to them. Honesty is always the best policy, even if it means you have some explaining to do.

Where is the hope in all of this, we are in need of restoration. When I need serious answers, I consult serious Truth and it never fails to comfort and secure my heart and mind. Let’s have another look at the wisdom from the scriptures of the Bible.

For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all. Luke 8:17

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour (those around you), for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Philippians 4: 25-27 & 29

For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. 1 Peter 3:10-12

I couldn’t say it any better. I want to go back and read those again and again and again until it sinks deep into my heart. Remembering who I want to be and who my loving God is.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him. Daniel 9:9

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15

I have looked into my heart and at times seen such horrible selfishness that I‘m disgusted. There has been no greater comfort than to know that even though I do not deserve a jot of mercy, the love of my God is so so SO much greater than my most horrible sin. He is so infinitely more powerful than my greatest failing and when I turn to Him with a heart of remorse, He will take it away.

‘The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love, He will not always accuse, nor will He harbour His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear (revere) Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.’ Then He encourages us ‘go and sin no more’.

With Paul I say, ‘Each time He (Jesus) said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

All I can think is how beautiful are the feet that left a throne to walk in the dust with us, to be nailed to a cross to restore us make all things new. How beautiful is Christ that He suffered in our place, for our sin and still strengthens us with amazing grace to overcome sin in this short earthly life.

It’s not over for trust, where grace has a place in the heart of the hurting. There is always hope, always.

Trust can be restored, but before this even begins an apology needs to be exchanged. For an apology to be sincere, remorse needs to be expressed and this is best done in person so that the one you hurt can gather that it is genuine. The most important factor is sincerity. It’s also a good start by asking whether a person is ready to hear your apology, be patient as they may need time for processing.

If someone apologises without anything specific being regretted, don’t buy the lip service. It’s simply not ok to gloss over an apology.

It’s also ok to ask for an apology if someone has hurt you. But ensure you are specific in identifying what they did exactly and specifically how that made you feel. Remember that just because you feel a particular response to what they did, it may not necessarily be their fault, (it may be subconscious sabotager)

Following an apology, the first question that may need to be discussed is “what will it take for me to regain your trust?”. That’s a heck of a good way to begin. On the flip side, the victim may state “you’ve lost my trust in this matter and if you want to earn it back, I need you to.. (fill in the blank)”.

At this point you’re essentially coming to an agreement that trust has been lost in a particular area and in order to earn it back, there are terms. These terms may include an open-phone policy, communicating ‘who are you with and how long for’, keeping promises, prioritising quality time together for example. (They must be realistic, requesting to know where someone is every 30 minutes is overboard) If the perpetrator doesn’t take your request seriously, don't fall into blindly trusting them again, they simply have not earned it.

If the one who burned trust truly wants to earn it back, they can, they just need to do what it takes. A probationary period needs to be accepted and taken seriously by both parties. The time period and the conditions of regaining trust need to be established and realistic. When it comes to significant pain and loss of trust due to infidelity, it is much more helpful to go through this process with an experienced counsellor as a third party guide.

Forgiveness. Yes we need to go there, because if we honestly look at ourselves, are we any better? Even if we would never do to them what they did to us, we’re still not any better.

‘To take the log out of your own eye’ doesn’t mean the offender is absolved of consequences for their actions. Every choice we make has consequences. The trust-points (terms) put in place are there to instate the consequences of losing trust and respect and help to rebuild these. When these are acted on, the one who broke trust is in the process of restoring hope for a better future.

In these disappointing experiences you’re not alone and there are many who have travelled this journey before you and found a path to a restored relationship.

Thank you to our Creator, for the Life-giving gospel of truth, without which my life would be full of bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. Without your truth God I would find no freedom from myself or have no fullness of freedom to give to others.

Thank you to Living Wisdom where I completed my internship as an understudy, witnessing New Zealand’s most gifted counsellor David Riddell work through this form of brokenness to bring restoration.

Thank you so much to the clients of Living Wisdom who courageously and honestly shared their counselling space with me so that I could observe and learn to be a helpful counselling person.

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