Setting people free is the core of true love. The true wisdom of love and freedom is this: “If you love something, set it free. If it doesn’t come back, it was never yours to begin with.” Love desires freedom and the need to be trusted. If we do not learn to love openly and without fear then the objects of our affection will struggle in their relationship with us. Love gives permission for people to explore their life and identity and to make mistakes in the process. Whenever we do something for the first time, we cannot make a mistake because we haven’t done this before. Therefore we can only learn from what happened. Then we must make an adjustment and try again.
If we do not adjust, but make the same attempt with the same result, then that is a clear mistake. If we continue doing the same thing then a pattern of behavior emerges. With that pattern, we develop a history that will need to be redeemed. A history and a pattern of behavior are two different things. The pattern is the cause; the history is the effect. In relationships, the pattern of behavior is the responsibility of the offender, while the history is in the control of the one not blessed.
Forgiveness is a major part of our own breakthrough and therefore must be done for our sake as a priority. It cannot be demanded of us. Often forgiveness is a process in itself. Without forgiveness there can be no trust and a true expression of love is impossible. People must not be shamed into forgiving. If it is not readily accessible then it will be a process that is designed to produce healing in the one who is wounded. Love values wholeness.
Sometimes history can be forgiven relatively easily, but we still have to live with the pattern in someone’s behavior, until it changes. If it does not change then history will be repeated and we are back to square one in the relationship. When a person does not take steps to change their pattern of behavior, then trust is the casualty.
There is given trust and gained trust. The first is the province of the one wounded. The burden for the second is on the behavior of the one offending. It does not matter which one starts first; both parties are responsible for being who they want to be in the situation. They do not have to start in the same place, but can grow independently and then reconnect later. Every human situation is different.
When we change our pattern of behavior it is not just to win someone back. It is because we are choosing to be a different man or woman. Change must primarily be for our sake or it cannot last the course or pass the tests of time and behavior. All relationships are tested by events; that is how we grow in love, patience, goodness, faithfulness, and trust.
Part of the adjustments that we make is founded on good loving questions that we must ask others and ourselves. Some of my best (not necessarily favorite!) questions are as follows:
* What is it that you believe about yourself that makes you act in this way?
* What is it that you think about me (her, him, them) that makes you imagine that this behavior is acceptable?
* How do you see me (her, him, them) that makes you feel that your behavior is justifiable?
* How do you plan to restore trust in this relationship?
When a person is behaving in a way that is self destructive, injurious to others, and without proper consideration, then we must determine a place to start for recovery. Asking the right questions will provide a clearing in the woods, space to breathe, and the possibility for new direction to be received.
We must be careful not to get caught up in this behavior too, while at the same time we want the pattern to be interrupted. Love seeks freedom. If we are the victims of that pattern we must seek the freedom to be loved properly, and to have our own actions defined by love. In the clearing we establish parameters that allow love to be restored if not initially, then eventually. That will depend upon how much trust is in the emotional bank account.
We can accept a person without approving of their behavior. God does that all the time. There is a process even with Him that allows us to become transformed. The first stage is Godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Thinking differently, and then acting in line with that change of perception, is the beginning of repentance. The end of repentance occurs when trust has been restored and transformation achieved. That can be a lengthy process that will involve reconciliation (trust given) and hopefully restoration of relationship (trust regained).
Repentance must have a conclusion or it is not complete. The beginning of repentance is only the start. There is no breakthrough without follow through. Many people have a desire for the end result or repentance, but no regard for the process that guarantees it. The gap between aspiration and achievement can only be filled by development. Given trust can play a part that allows for reconciliation. However, only gained trust can complete the repentance required for restoration.
Sometimes letting someone know you love them, regardless of what they do, is the very thing that will cause them to turn around, although there are no guarantees. Love is never a doormat. Though we may choose to sacrifice for the cause of love, we can never be victims for the sake of it. Love that does not make us whole is no love at all.