"Matt is completely aware he has not been forgiven for his sexual misconduct, and certainly all has not been forgotten. He has kept a very low profile not only for himself but for the sake of his family," a source told ET on Friday. "He realizes the utter embarrassment he has caused everyone involved."
"He also knows he might never be completely pardoned for his behavior, so he's finally come to terms with the fact he needs to start stepping out in public," the source added. "He is beginning to inch his way back into society. He still fears the endless backlash, but also knows he can't hide forever."
Another reason Lauer had been staying under the radar up until now was due to the fact that he is trying to finalize his divorce from his estranged wife, Annette Roque, whom he shares three kids with -- Jack, 17, Romy, 14, and Thijs, 11.
"Matt and Annette's divorce is finally almost complete," the source said. "Sadly, their divorce has been filled with contention. They are both very ready for it to be over, but the challenge is that he and Annette have disagreed throughout the entire process."
At the moment, Lauer -- who currently still resides in the Hamptons -- is just trying to stay focused on his family.
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Matt Lauer Makes Rare Appearance 9 Months After 'Today' Show Firing
"Matt's plans for the summer are to spend quality time traveling with his children," the source said. "He is focusing on preserving his relationship with his children."
"This has been the most trying, painful time in his life," the source continued, adding that Lauer has also been spending a lot of time planning the "next best step" in his career. "He has high hopes for some type of comeback, but not everyone is convinced that will ever happen."
"His small group of friends and team that have stuck by him have recommended a longer break," added the source. "Everyone has told him time helps to heal, but he is ready. He is used to hard work and long days and he knows that will help him move forward."