Oct. 28, 2015

Forgiveness

FORGIVENESS

How many times have you been wronged by someone you love and trust? A family member? A close friend? Your spouse? Your pastor? The list can go on and on.

People are not perfect. You, my friend, are not either and sin just as much as those who may have hurt you, if not more. This is something that I’m struggling with and I have to pray often asking God to help me. I trust easily, but I do not forgive easily. Can any of you relate?

When my husband and I were going through pre-marital counseling and we were practicing our exercises with our pastor, it was revealed to me I do not let things go and drudge up the past. I have read countless self-help books and was quite aware of people who do this during an argument. I was aware not to use the word “you”, but rather “I feel” so that your spouse is not placed into defense mode and to help keep the channel of communication open. I was aware once you dealt with something and both of you agreed, the subject was squashed and should never be brought up again.

However, I discovered that the pastor was right. I do not forgive easily. Since we have been married, it has become apparent that this is getting worse than better and I had better deal with it quickly.

I am discovering this is a defense mechanism. I am learning that I am still hurt by some thought, word, deed or action that I have not let go of in previous times. How could an intelligent person like myself miss that? Why do I struggle with it? I know better, right? Easier said than done.

I will be honest and say I have not figured it out, but I do know it is necessary for you to truly and completely forgive a person of their transgression against you in order for you to be blessed by God. Your un-forgiveness could be harboring your spiritual life and you may not even know it.

Lying is my biggest pet peeve. My kids know it. My spouse knows it. I would rather you be honest with me and hurt me then discover you were dishonest. It is rare nowadays I know, but I am just sharing with you who I am. Even when my kids were growing up, I would stress to them to always tell the truth. I am far more understanding if you tell me the truth compared to me discovering you lied to me and you will be punished for that lie in addition to whatever did.

When my spouse, then boyfriend, were dating after a few weeks, I discovered a HUGE lie he had told and I was hurt. He was surprised that I had learned the truth, but quickly apologized and promised he would never lie again. I stressed to my then-boyfriend that if I could not trust him with the little things, how could I trust him later on with the big things? This lie was huge and honestly should have been a deal breaker, but God had been working on me even then when it came to forgiveness. I forgave him, but did not forget. At least I thought I forgave him. After we were married, the lies started to increase. He never confessed these lies, I would always find them out and confront him which is worse, in my opinion. He would apologize and say he would work on his behavior. He would say he did not understand why he lied, but promised he wouldn’t do it again. He claimed it was due to his previous marriage where he was physically and emotionally abused and had to lie in order maintain peace. I accepted it. I again stressed again that I didn’t want his lying to create a “Peter and the Wolf” scenario. I told him I was hurt more than angry because he felt he had to lie rather than tell the truth. I asked if I was difficult to talk to or unapproachable and he denied both counts. Again, I forgave him (so I thought) and moved on.

Then we finally have a doozy of a lie. A type of unfaithfulness. The evidence was presented to me by his mentally unstable ex-wife. The evidence was solid and irrefutable. There was no denying it. Of course, at first, I did not know it was his ex, but over time and investigation, we both figured it out. I digress: I confronted my husband with said evidence and he came home to talk about it. He apologized and said it would never happen again, but the damage had been done. The foundation was now shaky. The trust had been broken. His word was tarnished. And I was severely hurt and wounded.

Looking back on it, I see I was more upset that he allowed his ex to manipulate a situation to try and destroy our marriage. I hate to speak ill of people, but she is full of evil and jealous to boot. She does suffer from a mental illness, but it does not excuse her from her behavior.

Let us now fast forward. It has been six months since this latest episode has been brought to light. I admit that I am not handling it well. The trust has been broken and we are on the verge of divorce. Although I have forgiven him, I have not let it go and continue to deal with it daily. I punish my husband and throw it in his face every few days. We are fighting, which we rarely did in the past. Only God can save this marriage and I have faith He will restore it. We are both trying to save this marriage as we do not want a divorce, but it is not easy.

We will begin counseling soon to help get us back on track. I am thankful we are able to speak to someone about our issues and get an objective point of view.

Dealing with my issues has not been easy. Anyone that has dealt with personal growth knows it is painful, but a necessary process to healing. I am aware that some of my past relationships (dealing with unfaithfulness and lying) have likely become baggage that I had not dealt with. I also acknowledge that my fear and inability to trust is hindering our recovery. I thank God for continuing to work on me. I constantly ask that He reveal to me any other hurts, baggage, and unhealthy issues be brought to light so that it may be dealt with properly.

I am not a new to the faith of being a Christian. I am aware I have to forgive and be merciful in order for God to bestow the same. So why the hang-ups? I am a sinner who is flawed and imperfect. I accept this without a shadow of a doubt.

I have read my bible so many times looking up scriptures on forgiveness. I will share them with you, but the most recent one that I found just two days ago, reads,

           “If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent- not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him…..Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what has been forgiven – if there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." 2 Corinthians 2:5-8; 9-11

For some reason this stuck with me more than any other scripture that I have found. Not only do I have to forgive my husband, but his ex-wife as well. I have to forgive AND forget. I have to let this go in order to move on.

I tell you all this as all Christians struggle from time to time. I am no exception to the rule. This is the reason for my blog – to support those who may be struggling with something similar and to give them hope. At times it is uncomfortable to be brutally honest, but God placed this on my heart in order to reach someone. I do not know who you are, but I know you are out there. I pray for you in advance of this posting.

So, forgiveness and mercy is the rule of today and, for me, likely many days to come.

“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” Psalm 32:1

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others of their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”. Matthew 6:14-15

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”. Matthew 18: 21-22

Another example is in Matthew 18:23-35. Great parable, but still holds true today. We have to forgive others or God will not forgive us.

One of my favorite scriptures on forgiveness can be found in John 8:6-7 “…But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin cast the first stone at her.” Verse 11 picks up… “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus said. “Go now and leave your life of sin”.

I could go on and on about forgiveness. I can tell you had I not been strong in my faith as a Christian, I would have left my husband and filed for divorce already because unfaithfulness used to be a deal breaker for me. It was not to be tolerated, but God somehow touched my heart and showed me that I had to be bigger person in this situation. I had to forgive my husband. Will my husband fail me again? Absolutely. However, I will sin and hurt him too. It is inevitable as we are both sinners and we were born with sinful natures.

Hold fast to God’s word and stand strong in your faith. He will not fail you. Yes, the pain is real and it really hurts sometimes, but it is necessary in order for you to grow in your faith. I am not talking down to anyone because I am down in the trenches with you. You are not alone. I pray God’s peace, understanding, and mercy, grace and wisdom on each and every one of you.