Family and Faith Magazine Christmas Edition Issue 11 - Page 7

“ ...unforgiveness affects the person who needs to forgive more than the person who needs to be forgiven. ” “So what we professionals do is that we encourage the forgiveness because unforgiveness affects the person who needs to forgive more than the person who needs to be forgiven. But we say to that person that that aspect of trust is not your responsibility, it is that person who offended you; it is their responsibility to earn back that trust.” Dr. Davidson added that the offender needs to work on themselves; grow, heal and change in order to make themselves trustworthy and be in a position to be back in the victim’s space again. “Because what has happened in the past is that we have had people who are abusers; and they physically abuse their partners and they are very remorseful (but they are in) the cycle of abuse; they are remorseful, they want to make up and you make up and they start it again and it has a tendency of getting even worse and we have seen people who have actually died. So what we are saying to people is, yes you have forgiven however this person has to earn back the trust; this person has to be sincere, genuinely remorseful, genuinely sorry, genuinely repentant and really put in the work to be trustworthy again and that’s when you can experience total, real reconciliation.” How to truly rebuild trust So what kind of work is involved with becoming trustworthy again? First of all the person has to acknowledge that what they did was wrong. They have to own it, they have to take responsibility. “They need to make sure they are not blaming someone else; they are not justifying their actions. They need to remove all those defense mechanisms that they are likely to have been using and take ownership,” Dr. Davidson advised. In other words they should seem to be saying ‘what I did was wrong and I am extremely sorry.’ The second step is that the offender needs to get help. This is to “make sure that they understand why they did what they did because all behavior has meaning. And to see how they can make sure that for now and the future they are not going back down that road.” Dr. Davidson added that sometimes getting help might involve total spiritual transformation in which the person who caused harm experiences God’s forgiveness and conversion. He noted however that it is wise for that person to “put themselves under the authority of someone to help them to grow and become this new person.” Within this context, he pointed to a frequently referenced scripture passage, that he says is often misunderstood. “1 Corinthians 5:17 it says therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things have passed away , behold everything becomes new. The passage is really saying therefore if any man be in Christ he is becoming a new creature, old things are passing away, behold everything is becoming new. It’s a process. So you don’t get converted tonight and all of sudden all of the terrible things you use to do by tomorrow you stop doing them, that doesn’t happen,” he explained. That is why discipleship is so important as you are re-socialized to do things differently, he emphasized. Marriage is more about giving than getting Applying the 5 truths about forgiveness on the part of the victim and taking ownership for the wrong that was done on the part of the offender are the necessary ingredients for true reconciliation, whether it be in friendships or intimate relationships. But since more seem to be at stake in a marriage relationship, Family and Faith Magazine posed a final question to the veteran relationship counselor. “ We asked: In the marriage relationship, when