I’m walking through how to make an effective apology and how to be forgiven.
We are imagining that I have betrayed you, my reader, and asking; What do you need from me to set things right?
So far I’ve mentioned three steps:
- Admit the Offense
- Express Sorrow
- Ask for forgiveness
Are we good yet? Is this all you need from me? There’s one more thing that will help and that is if I rebuild your trust. It’s great to have an apology but you want to know if things are going to change. If I just keep repeating the offense over and over then my apology is meaningless.
The Bible talks about a “godly sorrow” which means a sorrow that causes you to change your behavior (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). A change of behavior is the ultimate proof that you are truly sorry for what you’ve done and sincere about restoring the relationship.
How to Be Forgiven: Breaking Trust – Rebuilding Trust
The sad reality is that it takes years to build trust and only a second to break it. When I break your trust in me then I have to rebuild it. It’s like we were standing together but my offense put you and me on two sides of a valley. If we want to get back together then it’s up to me to build a bridge back to you. The greater the gulf the better the bridge needs to be. Small offense, small bridge. Big offense, big bridge.
The important thing to understand is…I’m not building this bridge for me. The offender rarely sees themselves as untrustworthy so they tend to build small bridges no matter how big their offense is. But I can’t build this bridge according to MY standards. I need to build this bridge according to YOUR standards. I might think a rope bridge is good enough. But you say…oh no…if we have any future then I need a suspension bridge. You need to prove to me that you are trustworthy.
Let me give you a few things you can do to help build trust with someone you’ve offended.
- Apologize well. That’s what I’ve been talking about in these recent posts.
- Stop offending. This might seem obvious but some people are in the unhealthy habit of offend-apologize-forgiveness-offend-apologize-forgiveness, etc. etc.
- Give the person permission to not trust you. If you’ve proven yourself to be untrustworthy then it’s only fair to not expect to be trusted. Communicate that to your friend. Let them know that it’s not their responsibility to trust you and you will not look or ask for it until you have rebuilt trust.
This post is adapted from the book, STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships. Come back for part five of this series on how to be forgiven to learn more about rebuilding trust. In the meantime “share the knowledge” by clicking below and subscribe to this blog (in the right column).
- Defining Forgiveness series starts here.
- How to Forgive series starts here.
- How to BE Forgiven starts here.