“I can never forgive him. NEVER!” Words shouted to God, an oath sworn in the deepest recesses of my heart. How could I forgive someone who destroyed my dreams, ruined my plans, stole my life, obliterated my self-worth? How could I forgive someone who chose his addiction over his wife, his babies? How could I forgive him from walking away from us?
I was repeatedly told, “Forgive.” I tried. I really, really tried. I said it to my friends. I said it to my family. I forgive him. I even said it to him. I forgive you. Inside though, I was still nursing my wounds, trying to resuscitate my damaged heart. I couldn’t let go.
If I forgive him, I’ll be letting him off the hook.
If I forgive him, it’s like I’m saying what he did was no big deal.
If I forgive him, I’m condoning his behavior.
I can’t just forgive and forget!
Unforgiveness poisoned my life. With my new husband, simple disagreements morphed into manic rages. Confusion engulfed my mind. Guilt dictated my relationship with my children. Anxiety and regret ruled supreme in my heart. More times than not, face-to-face encounters with the ex rivaled episodes of “Jerry Springer.” So.much.anger. Somewhere deep in my mind, I foolishly thought that I was making him pay for the years of pain he caused me. No one else seemed to be holding him responsible, so I would!
My children were hurting and confused. “Why’s Daddy so mad at you? Why does Daddy yell at you? Why are you crying again, Mommy?” I pacified my sweet babes with vague explanations. So little, so innocent. An understanding came to me. My bitterness was hurting my children. They needed permission to love their daddy without hurting their mommy. I decided, I will forgive him and get past these feelings that were controlling me. For my children and for them alone.
I prayed. I read the Bible. I sought wise counsel. I continually spoke forgiveness aloud. I forgive him. I forgive him. When I felt like screaming, I kept silent. When I longed to bring up past sins, I held my tongue. When I felt anxious for the safety of my children, I hid in the arms of my Savior through prayer and meditation on His Word. I spoke kindness to my children about their father. I replaced my negative internal dialogue with God’s opinion of me. Self-pity turned into sympathy. Self-loathing became self-loving. Loving myself made me love others. Seeing myself as God sees me helped me to see others as God sees them…even my ex-husband.
Through this process, I noticed my children were relaxing. I could almost see the stress and anxiety leave their little bodies. A load was lifted. It was working!
But wait! I began to feel less stressed. Less anxious. Less hostile. The aching in my chest isn’t there anymore. When I think about my failed marriage and the events which caused it, I no longer feel anger. Or bitterness. Or shame. Or regret. What happened??? Is this what it feels like to be happy? To be joyful? To be at peace with myself?
I FORGIVE HIM!!! I really, really do! This victim became a victor!!!
At long last, joy and peace are mine!
Forgiveness is not FOR the person who has wronged you. Forgiveness is for YOU! Release them and release yourself.
Forgiveness is not forgetting. My mind will not allow me to forget. But now, when I remember, the pain is gone.
Forgiveness is freedom from the chains of anger, hatred and bitterness that steal joy and peace in your life.
Forgiveness does not always happen quickly. It took me literally YEARS to get to the place I am today. Be patient and consistent.
Forgive and be free!
And don’t forget what Jesus said Himself, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15
Before you go, watch this video. The words to this song were healing balm to my soul.