How to Trust Again after You’ve Been Burned
- Brittany Rust Contributing Writer
- 2020 23 Jun
I’ve been betrayed and hurt by a best friend, my father, a boss, and a loved one. I know from personal experience that when someone breaks trust, it hurts.
Perhaps it hurts more than most things because you believe that person to be someone that would never hurt you. But then they do.
What do you do with that hurt? And can you trust them again? Or trust anyone, for that matter?
If you’ve been burned, and you’re wondering if you can or should trust again, let me help by first saying: I get it. Trust is hard for me, and there’s a lot of reasons why. Perhaps starting with my personality, I’m an Enneagram Eight. Trust can be hard for the Challenger.
But on top of that, I’ve had people I deeply care about betray my trust over the years. At a level where I feel so broken, I sometimes think I might always carry a scar to forever remind me of the hurt I’ve been through.
But I’ve also learned to forgive and trust again. I believe you can, too.
What Is Trust?
Trust, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed. In essence, trust says, “I put my confidence in you and believe you to be someone I can be my full self with, without fear of hurt.”
It’s trusting your spouse to protect your heart.
It’s believing your employer to be fair and good.
It’s confessing your struggles to a best friend with the confidence they won’t tell others.
It’s not wondering if your parent is a safe space.
And yet, unfortunately, trust gets broken and hearts get wrecked. But we’ll get back to that. First, what does the Bible say about trust?
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What Does the Bible Say about Trust?
I was actually quite surprised to see so many verses in the Bible warning us to not trust others. But I think there’s a bit more there than what we find on the surface.
Micah 7:5-6, “Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.”
Jeremiah 17:5, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.’”
Psalm 146:3-4, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”
There is certainly a theme in Scripture about the dangers of trusting men. But my understanding (and Jeremiah 17:5 communicates this well) is that these verses describe something other than simply trusting a person.
They warn of putting trust in the flesh rather than God.
The Bible is warning a signal to say, don’t depend on men or the things of this world over God. That’s a dangerous place to live.
But then we find these words in Proverbs 31:11, “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.”
So, trust is good. It’s healthy. A relationship between two people who mutually respect each other is an environment for trust to take root and flourish. Indeed, it’s the signature of a healthy relationship. This husband trusts his wife because she is a godly woman who cares for her family. He has full confidence in her.
In addition, there are many verses in the Bible that describe the closeness of a relationship that only exists between two people who trust each other.
Hebrews 10:24-25 shares the value of close community and stirring one another in love.
Proverbs 27:17 shares the value of two people sharpening each other—that takes trust.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reminds us that "two are better than one."
And perhaps my favorite for pointing to a relationship that is trustworthy is Proverbs 27:5–6, "Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy."
A close relationship requires trust. To grow, learn, and love, people must have confidence in each other. However, we should be careful who we trust. John 4:2 warns us that not every spirit is good and to test with discernment who to trust. There are some who are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 10:16). The Bible warns about associating with fools (Proverbs 13:20).
So, trust is worth extending, but perhaps not to everyone. Guard your heart in this matter and be careful who you choose to do life with.
Should We Trust Someone Who's Broken Our Trust Before?
This is where trust gets foggy or difficult. If you’ve been hurt, you might question whether you should or even can trust them again. Is it possible? Yes. But is it easy? No.
Should you trust someone who has broken your trust? The answer will sometimes be yes and sometimes be no. If the person who offended you is truly remorseful for the pain they’ve caused, committed to the healing of the relationship, and will put in the work to mend the rift caused...then, yes. Do the hard work back to trust if it’s a relationship you value.
However, if the person doesn’t care much for restoration, doesn’t respect your boundaries, and continues to take advantage of you—or is a relationship that you don’t see moving forward—then don’t. There’s nothing that says you must trust everyone.
However, the Bible is quite clear on forgiveness. Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”
Jesus is clear that forgiveness should be extended to the person who hurt you. Again, that doesn’t mean you have to trust the person gain, but it does mean you should forgive them as often as you need to, so that you won’t carry bitterness or unforgiveness in your heart. That will only hurt you.
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How to Trust Again When You've Been Burned
Learning to trust again is a long and difficult road in many cases. But it is possible; and if that’s what you would like, here are a few things to consider on the journey:
1. The offending person shows remorse and commits to a relationship that will foster trust again. This could be the spouse who struggles with porn entrusting to their loved one all electronics, accountability on their devices, and choosing to seek help. This might require a difficult conversation with a family member and boundaries established so you don’t feel taken advantage of again.
Whatever that looks like, the two of you commit to a journey that will establish trust again. This will likely require some long and hard conversations, but they’re conversations worth having.
2. You must forgive. And as I mentioned earlier, this must happen regardless. But one thing I’ve found in my own journey is that I’ve had to forgive more than once, and that’s when I’ve really leaned on Jesus’ words in Matthew 18.
Most likely, you will forgive and then those memories will come back, along with the emotions, and you’ll find yourself struggling again. Which means, forgive again. Forgive as often as you need to—as often as you feel those emotions rising up to steal reconciliation.
3. Be patient, kind, and realistic. Sometimes the hurt in us wants to see the person pay. We may want, perhaps, for the journey to be a little harder on them than it has to be. But be kind, will you? I know it’s hard, but this is where you can truly be a reflection of Jesus. I don’t mean allow yourself to be walked on again. But don’t use the opportunity as a chance to get back at the person with unrealistic expectations and cutting remarks. Show kindness, be patient with both of you as you find healing, and understand that it may take a while to establish trust again.
I’m sorry for the hurt you’ve experienced; it’s painful to be on the receiving end of betrayal. But if you genuinely care about finding a way to reconciliation, then know that trust is possible again with someone who has hurt you.
I’ve watched God restore broken relationships to a place even more beautiful than what was there prior to the hurt. That’s the God we serve; He is able to take what is broken and restore it to an even more beautiful glory. He can do that in your relationship if you’d like Him to.
Entrust the process to Him—He is the only one you can always fully trust with your heart!
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/zimmytws
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Brittany Rust has a passion to see people impacted by the power of God’s Word and His abundant grace through writing and speaking. She is the founder of Truth and Grace Ministries, Truth x Grace Women, and is the author of five books. Brittany lives with her husband, Ryan, and son, Roman, in Castle Rock, Colorado. Learn more at www.brittanyrust.com.