When you’ve been hurt, it’s petrifying to even consider being in a relationship again and trusting another person. Yet, there is hope! You can learn to trust again. I immediately think of when I went through a divorce in 2005. I felt as if I could never trust a man again. I had so much pain…so much fear due to the abuse that my children and I had experienced in the marriage. I knew things needed to change in the way I viewed myself and how I perceived men. It was one of the toughest seasons that I had ever gone through in my life.
The first thing I knew I had to do, though, was to forgive my ex-husband and that felt really tough. It was tough because he had not only emotionally and verbally abused me, but things had gotten physical, affecting my children. It’s one thing when a man is abusive to you, but it becomes a whole other matter when he touches your kids. Ultimately, I had to get a restraining order because my kids and I felt unsafe. The harassment continued. He would drive down our street and call to say hurtful things to us, in spite of the restraining order. We didn’t feel safe in our home. He showed up at church on one occasion and had to be escorted out. It was not good at all.
During that time, as we were going through the divorce proceedings, he made things extremely difficult for me. When I heard his name, or saw someone that looked like him, my stomach cringed. No one should have that much power over you. I realized I still needed to forgive him, but how? I thought I had already forgiven him. I knew I couldn’t afford to walk around with the baggage of unforgiveness.
You see, forgiving someone that has deeply wounded you can feel impossible because of the pain. We can think they need to pay for what they have done. Forgiving them doesn’t make what they did to you okay. It doesn’t excuse their behavior. Forgiveness releases your heart from the prison of pain. Forgiving them frees you!!!
Another big deal about forgiveness is that you MUST forgive from your heart, not your head. For the longest with that situation, as a “good” little Christian, I knew I was supposed to forgive and so that’s what I thought I did. After all, forgiveness is a commandment. The thing was, I was only mouthing the words, “I forgive you, _______ for hurting me and my kids…” I was going through the motions. I wasn’t letting it go. I was assenting to the fact that I’m supposed to forgive. There is no release with forgiving out of obligation or “from your head”. Forgiveness truly happened, when I forgave from my heart. (See Matthew 18:35)
My next move in moving past the devastation of this divorce, was to ask the Lord to help me trust again. How in the world do you trust another man, when you have had a history of bad relationships? I couldn’t see past my pain and brokenness. All I knew is that I kept attracting deadbeats. As I began to think about all of those messed up relationships, considering my part in the equation, I did not see how I could ever be in another relationship, let alone marriage. All I could think was “something must have been wrong with me.” This led me to have a conversation with the Lord. For those that may be leery of someone having a “conversation with God”, it just means I was praying.
A little backstory – Not long after my divorce, a well-respected prophet gave me a word about the husband that God was sending me. I politely flushed that word because I had determined I would not marry again until my children were grown. This was part of my conversation with God: How can I be married again, if I don’t trust men? I can’t even establish friendship if I can’t trust them enough to talk to them.
In my time with the Lord, He assured me He would teach me to trust again. He would show me their heart. He told me that I could trust Him and as I trust Him, He would show me when it was safe. He also impressed upon me that He would teach me what a healthy relationship looked like.
It can be extremely difficult to receive a blessing, when you have become so accustomed to receiving the counterfeits that look like the blessing, but are not the blessing. The Lord was beginning to take me through a process of healing my heart from the toxic relationships I had been in. I didn’t know how to be loved because I had not learned to love myself yet. I loved God. I loved people, but I didn’t have much value for myself. (This is a topic we will have to cover later.)
Learning to trust again was approximately a year long process for me. It involved the Lord sending a man to my job, where a real relationship developed. This was the friendship that God used to restore my confidence, allow me to really see what a healthy relationship looked like and we married about a year later. I am grateful to share that we have been married 11 years. I will share our full testimony in the next blog as there are a lot of details in that process.
Once again, there is hope for you. You, too, can learn to trust again! Forgive!!! Commit to not let past hurts rob you of the blessing of future relationships. And don’t rush the process!!!
“Father, I admit that I have carried many wounds from past relationships that I have not been able to overcome. I have tried to suppress the pain, and move forward, but I have not been able to trust men/women. I have not been able to be vulnerable and authentic in these relationships. Today, I forgive those that hurt my heart and I forgive myself for the mistakes I made in these relationships. Heal my heart. I give it to you freely. Teach me how to trust again. I break agreement with fear of being hurt again and choose to partner with You as You saturate me in Your Love.”