REbuild, REnew, REstore
In recent weeks I’ve been confronted with the idea of forgiveness in multiple different situations. A short while back the media was bombarding us with stories and the account of lives involved in the Ashley Madison Scandal, multiple couples we are associated with have had their lives altered due to one spouses decision to be unfaithful, and friends of ours Justin and Trisha Davis have been in the media discussing their story of devastation and journey to redemption and restoration. Their Book “Beyond Ordianary, When a Good Marriage isn’t Good Enough,” is an amazing “he said, she said” account of a marriage broken by betrayal. More than that, it’s a story of forgiveness and what God can do with the one obedient act of someone choosing to forgive. The quote from Trisha “Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart” was tweeted by Hoda Kutbe. I have been reflecting a lot on this quote the last couple weeks and I would like to take a moment to share my thoughts.
Forgiveness is such a tough and sticky subject especially when it involves a complete and utter betrayal of someone you love or loved. Being hurt in this way is absolutely something I would not wish on my worst enemy. It’s gut wrenching and anger inducing all at the same time. I will never forget the sickening feeling the moments I found out about my husbands betrayal. I literally beat on his chest out of anger and then cried uncontrollably for days on end. Anger and Sadness went hand in hand. Some days anger won, others, sadness was the front runner. It was easy to hold onto the anger. It felt like it was mine, I DESERVED it after all I had been put through. I did in fact, have the right to be “hornet mad” so to speak. I am sure this might be read by some as me saying they don’t have the right to be angry; That I am somehow minimizing what they have gone through or turning it around as a them being the “bad guy” or wrong. Please hear me and know that anger is a very natural part of the process and If you are the betrayed I want you to be angry, to voice that anger, and take the steps to walk through that anger in a healthy way. The problem with our anger comes when we hold onto it like a trophy. It becomes our badge of honor and leads to unforgiveness. We feel like we can’t possibly reconcile the anger with forgiveness in the picture. The two seem so counter intuitive. Guess what?
We don’t have to cease being angry in order to forgive our offender, but we do have to forgive in order to allow God access to our heart to mend that angry broken part of our heart.
Forgiveness is really not an option for those of us who have claimed God as the captain of our ship. Forgiven people forgive! Although my sins may not be as personally devastating to my husband or family, they are as equally damning for me. I do not deserve His forgiveness but He gives it anyway. My husband, nor the women who happened to be a friend, deserved my forgiveness but I gave it because I have been commanded to. I was still very angry when I offered forgiveness to both; However God has used that obedience to heal me as well as my marriage. The hairs on the back of my neck no longer stand up when I hear the other women’s name or see her around. The bitterness and anger I had for my husband have dissolved into a sweet, overwhelming love and affection for him. GOD did that… Not me! I am convinced however that He needed me to follow with forgiveness in obedience to Him in order to bring me to the place I am today. Un-forgiveness allows Satan to fan the spark into a massive flame! Unfortunately I am not able to give you a formula for time. It’s difficult and personal for each person. I just know that the longer you hold onto un-forgiveness the more likely you are willing to die on that mountain, not physically but spiritually. If you have been hurt by the terrible act of betrayal, I am so very sorry. My prayer for you today is that you walk through the anger that you are experiencing in a healthy way. That you are guided by those who give Godly counsel and that you are privileged to experience the grace of a God who rewards the obedience of His Children, especially when it is extremely hard. Walking in obedience of forgiveness is a healing balm for our souls. Walk with purpose and trust that He is faithful to complete the work!
Read the news or look at the internet lately....It is a hot bed for everyone's opinion of scandals. From the Ashley Madison cheating website list to the list of celebrities and public figures caught cheating on their spouses. Can you imagine what the media would have done with King David.....the man everyone idolized, the boy that slayed the Giant Goliath, He was the boy appointed by God to be King. He defeated hundreds of thousands of men in battle and yet kept in step with God's heart. He was heralded as the greatest King ever, but that didn't exempt him from sin. The Facebook court and twitter feeds would have been on overload with all the juicy details about the king who slept with his trusted Mighty Man's wife, got her pregnant and then had him killed to cover it all up. The media frenzy would have been around the world in a matter of minutes. He would have been called on to step down by the masses. Just imagine the chaos and buzz it would have created. David would have been forced to step down from the throne to save himself.
Instead of the masses demanding David's head, God used one man to confront Him. His trusted friend Nathan went to him and pointed out David's behavior and choices. Can you imagine what that would have been like? You have no idea what the reaction will be. Will He deny it and continue to try and cover up the sin with more sin? Will he put Nathan in jail to silence him? Maybe even have him killed, like he had Uriah murdered. Did that stop Nathan....absolutely not. Why? Because Nathan was a man who trusted God. Nathan was obedient to God even in the face of possible death.
What was David's reaction to being confronted head on with his own sin and failings?
Did He run and hide?
Did He lie and make excuses?
Did He blame it on her for not wearing any clothes while bathing?
NO.....He fell on his knees and cried out to God. He begged for forgiveness and pleaded with his God for restoration and redemption. He realized the depth of his sin and repented.
What do you do when you are caught?
Do you plot and plan how to cover it up and minimize the damage?
Do more lies come out of your mouth?
Do you dig deeper into sin because the consequences seem too great to bear if it was exposed?
Your image would be ruined, you may lose your job, your family would be disgraced, and your marriage would be over.
Do you come clean and ask for forgiveness?
Walk a road to brokenness and find healing?
This is not the easy path to take because its messy and the end of self. It's scary because it takes you out of your control. It means trusting God has you in His arms and knows what's best for you even when all around you is chaos and pain.
In the past few weeks I have seen so much brokenness in marriages.
The choices to be unfaithful to one another is exposed.
Confessions are made and forgiveness is asked.
The wake of destruction from sin is like a tidal wave.
Years of hurt and pain have compounded building the wave higher till it no option but to break. That breaking point is when the sin is found out. I have seen men weeping and wives angry, hurt and bitter. Crushed from that crashing wave washing over all that they thought they knew was destroyed in an instant. Tossing and turning their world upside down. Kids are caught in the wake of that destruction trying to understand the situation and how to love both the parent who has hurt them and the other parent. It is gut wrenching for me to sit with these families in their darkest hours, but just as Nathan was there with David for a purpose, we are called to sit with those struggling in sin too.
For me those situations bring back a flood of memories when I was in that seat....caught in my sin and choices....feeling the shame and guilt of years of poor choices and mistakes that were killing my soul. The wave I had built came crashing down and nearly destroyed everything. Only by Gods grace and forgiveness do I have a great marriage and family. What did it take?
It can be broken down into some simple things:
Confession: Bringing all my sin into the light. Not holding any of it back because it would be too damaging to my wife. God calls us to bring everything into the light...not some of it. This was and is extremely hard. It means exposing the deepest parts of our hearts that have been hidden to everyone for years. It's also an ongoing exercise to remain open and honest continually.
Ephesians 5:14 "for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, "awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead and Christ will give you light."
Repentance and Brokenness: Turning from all poor choices and behavior and leaning solely into God. Replacing self with HIM. Allowing God's discipline in my entire life. That may mean career change, hobby changes, dropping out of certain activities or moving to another area. Its not running and hiding but seeking to quiet your life so you can hear God speak.
Hebrews 12:1 "....let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles..."
Becoming a Student: Being selfish got you into this place, being a student of God, your wife and your kids can help you move forward. I had to learn about what it takes to be a follower of Christ, a Godly husband and father. Also what it means to sacrifice my heart for Gods heart. In order to be a student you must spend time with them, talk with them, engage in activities with them and be a listener. I am a busy person.....many times by choice. I struggle with just spending time with my family without having a structured activity or project. God is teaching me to be present and put my agenda aside.
Being Honest: Truth above all else.
Proverbs 11:5 "The godly are directed by honesty; the wicked fall beneath their load of sin."
Simply put it's being a truth teller from the point of confession on. This will not be a one time event either. Honesty has to become a lifestyle. It will take time for others to believe you because trust has been broken but God can restore you to an honest person. That's what He wants and He has the power to help you be that person.
It scares me to think that I could have been one of the names on the Ashley Madison Cheating Website list years ago with the sin choices I was making in secret. It took a God that relentlessly pursued my heart, a wife who chose God's character of forgiveness, a group of men that biblically walked me back to God, and my choice to own and confess the choices I had made and accept the consequences.
Maybe your wave is still building or maybe it's crashing on top of you right now .....God is there, he longs to restore and redeem but HE can only do it when you walk with HIM. I would love to share more with you about our story and the hope that he offers to anyone and everyone!