How Do I Forgive?

ThinkstockPhotos-186251428Today’s Marriage Monday comes out of our email inbox.  The question is forgiving after infidelity, but the answer applies to any relationship where forgiveness takes place.

Dear Jill,

My husband had an affair with my best friend. As we are allowing God to pick up the pieces, there is one thing I don’t know how to change: my hate for this woman that was my friend.

I have never hated anyone like I do her. Nor have I forgiven her. I know it is what God wants of me, I just don’t know how. I haven’t let her off my hook and honestly, I don’t want her off. I still feel she needs to be miserable. But the only person it is affecting is myself.

If you have some insight,I would love some help.

In God’s love,
Hurting

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Dear Hurting,

I’m so sorry for the pain this has caused you. I know your heart is so hurt from the betrayal of not only your husband but a woman you considered your best friend. The pain is deep.

The hard part about forgiveness is that it is not based upon feelings. You’ll never FEEL like forgiving. NEVER. You will have to choose to forgive. You will have to make a decision that goes against the feelings you have.

How can you make that decision? By understanding this is what life looks like on the other side of that decision:

1) Your heart will be uncluttered. Right now your heart is cluttered with hate. There are parts of your heart that are inaccessible to God, inaccessible to your husband, and if you’re a mom, inaccessible to your kids. When you choose to forgive, you free up your heart for God and those you love.

2) She may be off your hook, but she’s not off God’s hook. God is the judge. I Peter 2:23 tells us this about Jesus, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” Jesus entrusted himself to God who judges justly. As believers, you and I need to follow Jesus’ lead and entrust ourselves to God and his ability to judge justly. Don’t try to take a role that’s not yours.

3) You’re able to move forward. Right now you have one foot in the future and one foot in the past. You’ll never be able to fully heal until you can put both feet in the future.

This woman is broken and in need of a Lord and Savior just like we all are. Sometimes it’s helpful to move from “demonizing” this person in our head to “humanizing” them in our heart. She wouldn’t have had the affair if she didn’t have a God-shaped void in her life that she tried to fill with an illicit relationship. Can you have any compassion on her confusion, woundedness, and brokenness? This can be a helpful step in forgiveness.

Finally, it’s important to know that forgiveness isn’t always a once and done. You may need to forgive different “angles” as thoughts come up. I talked about this concept in the article I just wrote for Today’s Christian Woman Magazine. If you haven’t read that yet, you can read it here.

Your Jesus knows the hurt you’ve experienced. He too was betrayed. He was falsely accused. He was hurt by those in his inner circle. Trust Him with your pain. Hand it over to him so you can be free of the hate.

You have a lifetime of love, hope, and freedom ahead of you!

Praying,

Jill

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What about you? Do you have someone you need to forgive today? 

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4 Responses to How Do I Forgive?

  1. Karen Brady says:

    I am learning on forgiving my husband, I have been married 24 years, And I had to walk away from my marriage over 3 years ago with my 6 children. He did everything he could to force me out, By verbal abuse, Mental, And hitting me, And more… I thought I could never leave..a Marriage broken, I have exhausted all avenues of putting my marriage back together..It is overwhelming at times, I still cannot get a divorce. Because there is pain in this as well.. I am one person here trying to fix a broken marriage, But really, I cannot do this…

    You would think after 3 years, Something good would happen…That we would get somewhere, But we have not…When a man sees that he does not need to get help, Then we cannot restore our marriage based on this… I would have never ever walked away, For no reasons, I had many reason to leave…My husband does not see this. And because he does not see this…It makes it worse…Over 3 years of walking away, And It still hurts, It will always hurt…

    We cannot even talk about our marriage… Many men have this submission thing so wrong… They think they can do what ever they want, And there wives obey…But the bible Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Most miss that part about unto the LORD.. This plays a big part…

    GOD has a order, But this order has been broken by men who want to do things there way, And leave GOD out of it… Lets just say one order is, Men are to work…There is no getting around this…I am not a lazy person at all, And I gave over 20 years to my marriage to a man who did not want to work… Who tried every way to get away from this… Getting away from GODS plan. Look at all the women who work outside the home while there husbands will not work.Or maybe cannot in some cases. That is different.. I am talking about a man who can.. But will not

    Living outside of GODS plan will alway end up bad… What are wives to do, When husbands live this way, Of course pray, And to just say, I did not walk away because my husband would not work, It was way beyond this.. Because when a husband does not work, He has a lot of time on his hands that leads to Sin.. Many sins… It is called idol time….

    I wanted everyone to think I had a perfect marriage, So I took up for my husband all the time, I hid things from my family, When my sister knew something was not right, But I did not want to hear it, Oh Now how I wished I would have listened… It would have saved a lot of pain..I use to think that staying in a bad marriage is better for the children, But that is a lie. Never stay in a marriage of abuse. Children, Or no Children. It leaves scarsHow does one get over a broken Marriage? It is not easy at all, And really it does not get better… For some it is so easy to just carry on with there lives

    • JillSavage says:

      Karen,

      I am so sorry for the pain your husband has caused you. You have absolutely done the right thing by leaving an abusive marriage. It’s right for you and for your children. It’s also right for your husband because it should have been a wake up call for him. I’m sorry that it wasn’t. Your husband abandoned you when he became abusive. That breaks my heart, and I know it breaks yours too.

  2. Jeannine says:

    Jill, I’m curious about something….you say to let her “off the hook” because she is still on “God’s hook”…that’s fine and dandy except if she’s a christian woman, then God has “let her off his hook” as well which only leaves the hurt victim, at least in my mind, the only one holding her accountable still….I would have a VERY hard time letting this “friend” off the hook, ever, if this was me!

    • JillSavage says:

      Jeannine, good question. We have to remember that being on God’s hook is not just about final judgment. It’s also about conscience, guilt, conviction, and the lack of peace. When we’ve stepped out of God’s way of living, there are consequences that will be experienced. “Hurtings” loss of respect, trust, and friendship is certainly a consequence as well, but her unforgiveness doesn’t hurt her friend, it only hurts her.

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