4 keys to forgiveness, healing and rebuilding trust.

4 keys to forgiveness, healing and rebuilding trust. September 2, 2014

It has been said that, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and then hoping the other person dies.”

Forgiveness is one of the most difficult and most misunderstood concepts in all of life. Refusal to do it can create a toxic root of bitterness in our hearts. A lack of forgiveness can wreck marriages, families, careers and most every other aspect of life, but embracing grace in its true form can bring freedom and healing.

The four principles below could revolutionize your relationships if you’re embrace them and practice them. For ongoing encouragement, please connect with me on twitter by clicking here and subscribe to our email list at the top of this page for a free ebook download.

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Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com. 

To experience more grace in your relationships, do the following (in no particular order):

1. When you’ve blown it, own it!

We live in a world that loves to deflect accountability and assign blame somewhere else. We’d like to believe we’re always either the hero or the victim in every situation, but sometimes, we’re the bad guys! Never admitting fault doesn’t make you look strong; it makes you look foolish. Be willing to swallow your pride, confess your offense, and humbly seek forgiveness.

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.Proverbs 28:13

2. Recognize the difference between forgiveness and trust.

Some people reject forgiveness, because they wrongly believe it’s the same thing as trust and since they don’t trust the person, they assume they can’t forgive the person. Forgiveness can’t be earned, only given (that’s called grace). Trust, however, can’t be given, only earned (that’s called “Common Sense!”).

For more on this, check out our popular post on How to Rebuild Trust.

3. Follow the example of the world’s only perfect Forgiver.

The more you learn from Jesus, the more naturally forgiveness will flow. He is the embodiment of love and grace. We still live with the natural consequences of our decisions, but ultimately, the penalty of our sins was paid for by Him on the cross. Don’t beat yourself or others up for offenses that Jesus has literally taken a beating to forgive.

4. Give as much forgiveness as you’d like to receive.

We all want grace when we’ve messed up, but we’ve got to realize that grace flows both ways with equal measure. If you want to receive forgiveness, you must also offer forgiveness.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

For more tools to help you build trust and health in your marriage and family, check out our bestselling book*, “iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage” which is available on Amazon.com as a paperback, Kindle ebook and audiobook and is now also available on iTunes for ebook download on iPhones, iPads and all Apple devices.

Check out our brand new video series on sex, intimacy and communication in marriage.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • johannes liau shemane

    I want to know how to rebuild my trust.sometimes I feel weak in my faith,hopeless.

  • Dave Richards

    Thank you for these words on forgiveness. I have sent your link to other members of my family with the hope that they will read, at least the words on forgiveness on your website. Thank you and may the lord bless you and yours.

  • Amberosia

    Anyone know if the ivow book is available in stores? I’m from California.

  • Alexander

    Hi Dave,

    I am experiencing the toughest challenge in my faith ever, am about to marry from a different ethnic group and I have seen the parents from my girlfriend’s side are not willing to accept me, I have done wrong by her at one time during my lowest lows and I hit rock bottom by lashing out when she tried to comfort me, but things changed her parents once in the beginning were receptive now are not and they say they can’t trust me anymore to have their daughter for marriage. It breaks my heart, I had a lousy childhood with my father walking out on us and never looking back. I try so hard to be a forgiving person but am like an old man climbing a sandy hill, once I forgive then something else tries my faith and I am back to square one. I am Christian but oh God, it gets so hard to swallow and just move on. What can I do?

  • dave willis

    Alexander, thank you for sharing. I’m praying for you! You sound like a man of character and integrity. We all make mistakes, and when we do, embrace God’s grace and work to rebuild the trust of those you’ve offended. I’m praying God would guide your steps. Don’t lose hope.

  • dave willis

    iVow is available as a paperback through Amazon.com

  • chelsea

    I have forgiven my husband for cheating before we married. I forgave him and do love him..but it’s still stabs my heart and I think about it all the time. I still look at him and think how could u? he hurt me so bad… the double whammy it was with my then best friend. I know he is sincere and he admits that he did wrong, and took that responsibility. most would have left…I stayed because he is my best friend and can’t imagine not being with each other. he just made a horrible selfish choice. I don’t feel as I know how to completely forgive him. it’s always there.

  • Scott

    I just recently went through an affair. One of the worst things to experience in my opinion. I held onto the anger, thinking if I forgave her it meant that it was ok that it happened. I finally had enough of the bitterness and anger that consumed my life, and forgave her. It was as if a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. It felt/feels amazing. She has a long way to go to earn my trust back, but I feel like I’m able to move forward now. Thanks for all the support you provide through this website and page. It has helped me when I felt like I couldn’t or shouldn’t go on.

  • Jenn

    Hello Dave,

    This article is very helpful for me as I am trying to forgive my husband.. I am having great difficulty forgiving him as he has cheated while we were in the process of moving out of state and then continued a long distance relationship with this woman..I just don’t know how I am supposed to forgive someone that I feel has wronged me and my son so badly.

  • Monica Klein

    My husband has walked away from me and our marriage. He does not believe but I do. He can not forgive me for mental issues I have. And I am trying to get well.

    How can I regain his trust or should I just work on myself?

  • Rod

    Hello Dave

    My wife left me 21 days ago. Three years ago I thought I wasn’t happy n told my wife. Fast forward to today. Well I was out w different women, but nothing physical. I just needed female friends. Well this has become the problem. I’ve been arguing w her for the last couple of years w the increasing weekly until she left. She told me that’s what I wanted but it’s not…we just started marriage counseling n it seems ok..how can I show my wife I love her, need her back in our home, and she can trust me? Btw, I was dianosed w PTSD 6 months ago. We been married 31 yes..

  • chad

    Alexander I am the father of a beautiful little girl who I know thinks I walked out on her and is told on a daily basis how terrible I am just sharing but your dad may not be the only guilty party and please don’t through your life away from not knowing for sure the reasons…

  • dave willis

    Rod, I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through. I’m praying God’s healing for you and for your marriage.

  • dave willis

    Monica, I don’t know the details of your situation, but I’m praying for you. God can give you the wisdom to know what next steps to take. Trust Him and don’t lose hope.

  • dave willis

    Jenn, I’m praying for you and your family. That kind of betrayal causes very deep wounds which don’t heal quickly, but healing and restoration is possible. Take it one day at a time and don’t lose hope.

  • Regina

    I founf out my husband was cheating on me for the past 4 years. He has always accused me of cheating. He is very insecure and jealous. We have been married 26 years. We was going to counseling I was very angry, hurt. He filed for divorce and said he doesn’t want me, her wants to be selfish now. I hurt even more. Our son is hurt.

  • Marie

    I really needed this article, thank you! My husband, of nearly 19 years, has had multiple affairs (he claims no intimacy w/them). Two years ago, he made a “profession of faith”. Two weeks after that, I find out about another ongoing female friendship! I believe he only claimed salvation to fool me into thinking he really changed! I can NOT bring myself to forgive him, again, for offences he doesn’t have any repentance over! Is it possible to forgive him even though he isn’t sorry? Our children (15 &12) knows our marriage is in serious turmoil! 🙁 Any Godly advice would be so greatly appreciated!

  • Still Hurting


    My ex husband and I are trying to work things out and get back together. Some things are better but others are not. He cheated on me and when I confronted him about something I had seen, he got defensive and proceeded to get physical. I have tried to forgive him but things happen and i want to hate him again. Since we have decided to reconcile, I have still found him on dating websites and the girl that he told me he broke it off with…..well he didn’t. I want this to work but I am scared to talk to him about it and he has no clue that I know these things. I am lost…He has also given me an ultimatum, him or my son…

  • dave willis

    I’m so sorry for what you’re going through! i’m praying for you and your family. I’d also encourage you to check out http://www.SaveMyMarriage.com

  • Broken

    Rod, “out with different women,” “nothing physical” and “just needed female friends” sounds like emotional affairs to me. Your wife should be your best friend and how you behave with other women should never threaten her security or show that your marriage is less than your first priority. I’m dealing with this now and my marriage has been rocked to the very core because my husband thought he “needed” to have a particular female coworker as a “close” friend. If he’d put as much time and energy into our marriage and protecting it as he did his relationship with her we might not be trying to salvage things in counseling right now and talking about divorce every other week.

  • yadira martinez

    I need happiness in my life what book do u recommend

  • Dave Willis

    I’d recommend you read “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren