Mending Broken Trust
Once upon a time, there was a little old man and a little old woman who lived in a quaint cottage in a quiet little corner of the world. They were like any other married couple – they had their good times and bad times. In one of those bad times, the little old woman became dissatisfied with her husband and kissed another man who was passing through their town peddling merchandise. She immediately knew it was wrong and wished she had not kissed the stranger. Wanting to make things right, she told her husband what she had done and begged him to forgive her. Her husband was crushed by the weight of her betrayal, but he agreed to forgive her. As time passed the temperature in their marriage remained cold and distant. Wanting her happy life back, she went and spoke to a wise old friend in the village and asked her what she could do to make things in their marriage right again. The wise friend replied, “Go home and kill your finest chicken, pluck it clean and make the best chicken soup of your life.” The little old woman went straight home and got right to work. She killed and plucked the chicken clean and made the tastiest chicken soup she had ever cooked! She was full of hope as she fed it to her husband. But, nothing changed. He had told her that he had forgiven her, but coldness in their relationship and in their home remained. So, she went back to the wise old friend and confided that the chicken soup had not worked!!! She begged her friend to tell her what went wrong so she could fix things between her and her husband. The friend responded, “Now that you have made the soup, go back and gather up every feather you plucked from the chicken and give them to your husband. Then and only then will warmth and trust be restored in your marriage.” The little old woman was stunned by the size of the task but understood the message: that which is quickly lost takes time and work to restore! She went home and loved her husband well for years, and eventually warmth and trust in their marriage returned. And, they lived happily ever after.
I’m not sure where I heard this story, or even if I have told it exactly right, but if you have been married for a while, you will agree that the message is “on point!” The consequences of poor decisions and sin in marriage can be long-lasting. But with dedication, and putting each day behind the next, and doing what is right day after day, and allowing God’s spirit to heal the hurt, trust and warmth in your marriage will, I promise, return. Keep reading, friend.
If you have ever watched someone pluck a chicken, you know how nearly impossible the feather gathering job suggested by the wise old friend would be. I watched my ma ’mere (Grandmother) wring a chicken’s neck and pluck it clean. I didn’t eat chicken for two decades! She killed the chicken in her backyard. The wind caught those wispy feathers and they went everywhere! I cannot imagine how anyone could save every feather. What a mess! Both tasks- of gathering feathers and rebuilding trust in a relationship can be herculean, but doable!
The point of my story is not counter-God. It is practical and cold, hard truth. Cheap Grace says that we can do whatever we want, quote the “forgive 70 x 7 verse (Matthew 18:22)” and expect a “get out of jail free” card. Thankfully, God is faithful and just to forgive! But, God allows consequences for our sins, as will your hurting spouse. Consider the following two examples.
Adam and Eve’s sin was forgiven, but we still feel the consequence of their sin, through pain and travail, each time a baby enters the world (Genesis 3:16). Also consider the powerful story of Moses. Moses was used mightily by God to deliver His people from Egypt. But because Moses hit the stone twice to produce water instead of speaking to the stone, as God had commanded, God did not permit Moses to step a foot into the promised land – the same land to which he had journeyed for 40 years (Numbers 20:11-12)! I can go on – both forgiveness and consequences of sin are Biblical truths. The Bible does not talk of cheap Grace. Instead, the Bible describes sustaining Grace that is renewed every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)! First and foremost, we must not monkey around with trust in our marriage. But if one sins, the other must forgive. And if the chill lingers, do not get discouraged. Instead, faithfully rebuild trust by doing what you know is right and God honoring. Keep reading, friend.
Avoid sin. Simple? Not so much. And, you cannot, in your own power, avoid sin. But if every day you allow God’s Word to wash over you, cleanse you, and keep you satisfied, then, yes, it is simple (Psalms 90:14)! Pursue Christ my friends. Pursue Him through His word, through community with other believers and linked arm in arm with your spouse! A sanctified heart is not easily fooled (Sin is Crouching).
If Sin Occurs: Forgive! You must forgive as you want to be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). Though this is sometimes not the answer the hurting or betrayed spouse wants to hear, when spoken in love, it is the only thing that will ever bring true comfort and peace.
Rebuild Trust! This can be a lengthy journey, but it is worth every step. Sometimes one or both in the marriage chooses to not take this journey – the hurts are too deep and the sins too painful to bear. I understand. Jesus clearly gives reasons that divorce is acceptable, but once again, divorce is not a “get out of jail free” card. God requires you to forgive, whether your marriage survives or not. I pray it survives! Nothing is sweeter than to watch the Gospel do its healing work in the lives of believers! Never forget the power of the Gospel and the truth that love, true Gospel love, covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8)! Wake up every morning and do what is right, true and good (Galatians 6:9).
For those of you hoping that I am the little old woman in the story, I hate to disappoint, but I must. I have only kissed Jody since our lips first met – April 25, 1981. 😊
I pray that no matter the state of your marriage today, you are challenged by today’s post. I love our time together each week. Keep reading, friend!