I have found that forgiveness without trust is perhaps the most vulnerable and maddening of emotional positionings.
See, when there is bitterness and unforgiveness along with distrust, superficial feelings of power give way to a sense of authority. Anger is seemingly validated by mistrust, and vice versa. Thus there is a perceptional supremacy in that you were wronged; there’s no need to be kind. Forgiveness is unnecessary. Trust is an afterthought. So in holding on to the absence of both forgiveness and trust, sacrificial vulnerability is irrelevant.
It is a horribly vicious cycle of aggressive emotional dominance.
But if the higher road is chosen, the selfless path, the route that meekly considers personal foolishness and need for redemption, one’s authoritative insecurity is killed in some capacity. In forgiveness, there is a recognition of “You don’t owe me anything. There is no debt to be payed.” So any sort of indebted captivity is totally released. While forgiveness is solely contingent on one’s own self-denying decision, trust, however, is built and earned through time. Forgiveness does not deny the existence of wrong and hurt; it is actually recognizing that there is something necessitating forgiveness! And thus trust must not be made synonymous with forgiveness. You can, and sometimes should, have the latter apart from the former.
So in separating the two, the entitlement to revenge has been sacrificed, yet there still remains a consciousness of what justifies our guardedness. Yes, every snare constricting the guilty part is released, yet while treading cautiously in passing.
There is no bitterness.
But there is likely pain.
The implications are consequently a naked, liberated, and joyous posture of the heart paradoxically intertwined with wounds and fear.
If this tension is not nursed and watched over with deep care, the temptation to revert to violent self-pity is dangerously inviting. While there must be a quickened urgency to offer forgiveness, freeing others from their imagined debt, we must not be foolish in enabling another to abuse and misuse. This balance, not intimately tended to, is enough to drive man to despair.
But to live in the tension, to seek both forgiveness and trust, is far more rewarding than it is maddening. The love found in restored and redeemed trust is nearly unbreakable.
A love that releases the stocks restraining the criminal for an impending execution.
A love that keeps no record of wrong.
A love that invites the liberated perpetrator, a new friend, into your own home.
When complete healing is obtained to the point of losing all vulnerable lunacy, we enter into the deepest and fullest of relationships—and perhaps this is the only way.