“Forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget.”
This isn’t exactly a true statement. In many ways, forgiveness does mean you forget. Because forgiveness means no longer harboring the anger, pain, and agony of a past hurt.
But I think people use this phrase because they’re trying to counter the perception that forgiving someone is equal to trusting them again. And I agree that forgiveness and trust are not one in the same.
Sometimes the issue isn’t so much about remembering someone’s wrongdoing and never forgetting it, but whether or not you can trust them again.
There is a world of difference between forgiveness and trust. They aren’t contingent upon one another.
Here are 3 ways forgiveness and trust are different.
1. Forgiveness releases a person. Trust binds you to them.
Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we can do in a relationship. And that’s because we’re afraid of being hurt again.
Our fear can cause us to fall into the trap of thinking that if we forgive, then we’re releasing ourselves to be hurt again. But that’s not true.
When we forgive someone, we’re releasing them from our thoughts. We are taking away their ability to continue hurting us as we replay the situation over and over again. We’re releasing them from the anxiety and torment they bring. Forgiveness is far more about releasing a person from yourself rather than releasing yourself to them.
But this doesn’t mean you automatically have to trust them.
When you trust someone, you’re entering into a relationship that links you to them. Once you forgive, you aren’t then bound to trust again.
Trust is built over time and it’s an investment in that person. To trust someone relationally means you’ve seen something in them that is worth relationally investing in. It means you desire to be linked to them, because they bring life and health to you.
2. Forgiveness is always wise. Trust requires wisdom.
Whether you’re a Christian or not, forgiveness is always the wisest choice.
It’s just better for you as an entire person. The call to forgive isn’t solely for the betterment of your spiritual life. It’s for the betterment of your whole life. Jesus is concerned with your whole self and he knows the many benefits forgiveness will bring to you.
Once you’ve been hurt, you might find yourself being skeptical of trusting anyone again. This seems like the natural reaction borne out of desire to protect yourself and your heart. But trust is such a good thing when it’s used with wisdom.
You can’t just throw the baby out with the bath water and decide to never trust anyone. You just need to use wisdom as you begin to trust someone.
Don’t allow a bad experience to cloud your judgment. We need people in our lives we can trust. But that means you need to let your walls down and let them in.
3. Forgiveness protects you. Trust builds you up.
One of the great things about forgiveness is that it actually does the opposite of what we think. Sometimes people think extending forgiveness is a sign of weakness or vulnerability. But it’s actually a great way to protect yourself.
When you forgive someone, you’re actually taking an active step towards healing. Forgiveness allows the wound to be closed. It protects you from the continued damage a situation can have on you.
Have you ever met someone who harbors unforgiveness? They might think they’re keeping themselves safe. But instead they’re keeping their wounds exposed.
Trust can be scary that might make you feel vulnerable. That’s because trusting people means taking a risk. But the reward of finding someone worth trusting is far greater than the risk. When you trust someone, you’re no longer alone in life. You no longer have to carry it all on your own.
This is what Jesus wants for us. He wants us to be vulnerable so he can build us up and strengthen us. Of course, we can trust him with everything. But he also wants us to let our walls down and trust his people.
Actively trusting Jesus means we let others into our life. He desires for us to be in a community surrounded by people who will rejoice and mourn with you. In order for people to be there for you, you have to let them in.
Jesus extended the greatest level of forgiveness we will ever encounter. He led by example. Not because it’s impossible for us to do, but because that’s what it looks like to live a whole life.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you automatically trust someone. But it does heal you and allow you to take a step towards trusting people in the future.