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!