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It’s hard to trust after we’ve been hurt. We keep wondering when the next blow is coming. But the path forward – a path toward peace, and love, and unity requires us to eventually give each other the benefit of the doubt.

We might put our hand on a hot stove once. But we instinctively know not to do this again once we’ve been burned.

And when we’ve been burned in relationships time and again, there’s also something in our soul that resist opening up and trusting again. It’s only natural to protect ourselves from more harm.

But as we stay in self-protective mode we also limit the potential for growth and change in the relationship.

To be sure, the other has a responsibility to change and stop their harmful behaviors toward us. And we’re faced with many unfair and difficult choices if they don’t.

At the same time, we also have our part to play if we truly want the relationship to be better.

Part of our responsibility is to practice extending the benefit of the doubt to the other.

This is not to downplay or overlook any sinful behaviors that continue. But it is choosing to open our hearts and trust the good faith efforts of the other.

There’s no expectation for perfection as the path of growth is messy and still filled with many shortcomings. But extending the benefit of the doubt is choosing to trust there’s a basic goodness in the other trying to emerge.

We play the victim and allow our relationships to stay stuck when we choose to remain suspicious and distrustful despite the sincere efforts of the other.

We must each do our part to move our relationships toward their highest good.

Don’t blindly trust and allow yourself to stay in harm’s way. But exercise your faith by giving each other the benefit of the doubt – trusting there’s a common ground of goodness and beauty you both desire.

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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