I love to paint verbal pictures. Sometimes my pictures take the form of Old Testament narratives. Even people with little Bible knowledge usually have some acquaintance with these stories and often make the application to their situation without me doing it for them. Many of these stories I have rehearsed and can give a “dramatic reading” there by capturing both the mental and emotional dimensions of the counselee.
Recently there was a woman (we will call her Jan) in the office. Her husband confessed to a five year affair. She was broken hearted. She had very deep hurts. She was suspicious of everything he did. They had both agreed that they wanted to mend the marriage and both affirmed that they loved one another. He took full responsibility and made no excuses for his behavior. He did recount some of the issues that led to the demise of the relationship and contributed his vulnerability to the predatory advances of his lover. They agreed to these matters and had begun correcting some bad patterns even before starting counseling.
One of the biggest issues for her (as it always is for the innocent partner) was trust. Jan and most innocent mates have learned from society that the offending mate must earn their trust. While there is a measure if truth in this idea, it is usually self defeating. When I explain to the innocent party that they will have to choose to trust, they usually explode with something like, “But I hurt so much every time I think of him/her in the arms of _________. How can I choose to trust?”
A narrative that has proven helpful is the story of David and Bathsheba. It is not a story about trust, but it is a story about making a choice in the midst of deep hurt. In telling this story I paint the picture of David lying prostrate crying out in agony for God to heal or spare his son. He does not eat and refresh himself. Then the child dies. David gets up to bathe and eat and surprises those in waiting. They are confused and question him. David says, “He cannot come to me, but I can go to him.”
How much do you think David was hurting? Remember, it is because of his sin of adultery that this child was conceived and he is aware that God is most likely taking the child because of his sin. So, how much is he hurting? Yet, in the midst of that hurt, David can choose to take the responsibility to arise, bathe and take up his responsibility as ruler.
So, the hurting mate can choose to trust (Proverbs 16:32). Now, it is important for the offending mate to practice open communication. He/she should provide reasonable accountability to encourage that choice to become a settled habit and not have to be a conscious choice (Proverbs 16:6).
The offended mate often takes the role of the dog chasing its tail on a dry and dusty day. They will latch on to something that suggests a trust issue and will begin to mentally chase it. They wear themselves out and in the process stir up a lot of dust (additional things they project over which to be concerned Proverbs 17:9).