The short answer is….yes.
One of the most common questions I get is “Scott, do I have to reconcile with the person if I forgive them? because I really don’t trust them anymore…”
So, if this is a struggle for you, you are not alone!
I’m not sure who first shared the following idea with me, but I can’t claim it as my own. This idea has really helped me process through dealing with broken relationships.
The idea goes like this – forgiveness is about the past, reconciliation is about the present, and trust is about the future.
Forgiveness = Past
When we forgive someone, we’re abandoning our pursuit of revenge for a past wrong. Instead, we’re now choosing to move forward, away from bitterness, resentment, and vengeance.
Reconciliation = Present
When we reconcile with someone, we’re choosing to build a new relationship with someone who we once experienced a break in a relationship. Reconciliation means coming together where we had one been estranged. We can only do this in the present. We can’t go back into the past and we can’t go ahead into the future because we don’t know what that future holds.
Trust = Future
When we trust someone, that involves our turning towards the future. We’re expecting a certain kind of behavior, attitude, or action down the road. But, to be honest, we don’t know what will happen.
And that’s where the challenge comes in. Trust is the hardest part because it’s the most vulnerable act.
Relationships are inherently risky. When we let someone close enough to know and love us, we let them get within striking distance too.
Because forgiveness is about the past, you can forgive someone and not want to reconcile with or trust them ever again. (Those who tell you have to do both are lying to you.)
You can forgive someone and reconcile too, while still struggling to trust them. That is risky, but I can see why you might want to take that risk.
Ideally, we’d love to be able to forgive, reconcile, and trust again. But some of us won’t get that option. (And some of us will exercise wisdom and not take that option.)
For me, framing each of these three as concerning a different arena of time (past, present, and future) helps me process what to do and how to approach my next steps.