I just sent a text to my former best friend who also had an affair with my husband for 3 years. A best friend who was also my mentor, held my respect, and was one of the few people I let into my heart and felt safe with.
What was the text you might ask, nearly 11 months out from discovery? It was a tweet from Proverbs 31 Ministries that reads, “All the things that used to shame you, or keep you in doubt or fear, have become the very evidence of one who has been saved. What a Savior!”
I followed the picture of the tweet with, “Praying this is the truth of where we all are working towards if we aren’t there already.” I wanted to add, “I love you,” but I couldn’t. It is the truth though. I love her and miss her. I miss all of the friends who my husband acted out with through sexting. Each had a piece of my heart and each I’ve been left to wonder; how are they? Do they wrestle as I do? Do they miss me?
I’ve read books about forgiveness and more importantly, I’ve read the truth of God’s word regarding forgiveness. I’ve grappled with the concepts regarding Biblical forgiveness, the church culture’s “re-imaging” of forgiveness, and my own experiences regarding forgiveness.
I’m nearly 11 months out from discovery and some days forgiveness seems to be strongly rooted in my chest, deep within my heart. I can claim its sweet release and let go fully. And in those moments, I feel free and unspeakable joy. Other days I rage. I am disgusted. I am furious. I want to run away, divorce my husband, and shut that chapter of my life. I want them all to pay. The debts I am owed seem insurmountable.
I think my grappling and wrestling comes from dismantling faulty notions regarding forgiveness. Sometimes in our attempt to be “Christlike” we rush to forgive. Additionally, at times we are also pressured to rush into forgiveness using this same reasoning from well-intentioned spiritual leaders. I find both scenarios to be to our detriment because it robs us of truly lamenting and grieving the consequences of the sin in our lives. Let’s just be honest, we don’t particularly applaud at the verses that say we will share in the sufferings of Christ. Quick forgiveness bypasses this suffering of having to sit in our messy place.
We might question our hearts if we find forgiveness elusive. Are we truly saved? Can’t we forgive because Christ forgave us IN our sins, before we were even redeemed? What does that say about our heart condition if we haven’t “arrived” yet? Are we hesitant to say we forgive because we have bought the lie that we have to “forget” and never bring up the offense again?
Are we holding forgiveness “hostage” because it feels safe and gives us a sense of control in the chaos of our lives? Does the anger associated with lack of forgiveness keep our spouse on “high alert” which gives us more false stability? If it isn’t our spouse but the women (my friends), does the thought of forgiveness make us believe we are saying their behavior was actually not as egregious as it was?
Like I said, there are TONS of books on forgiveness that grapple with these legitimate concerns, questions, and issues. But this is a short blog so in the interest of time I will share my own experience. I am “doing” forgiveness” on a daily basis. I am lamenting the losses and finally grieving!
One of the best things I did post discovery was a 10 week, in depth study, of the book of Lamentations. This is a 5-chapter book full of graphic details of the destruction sin has brought. There is no glossing over the depth of the pain of the author. As I read that book day after day, I was grateful that I wasn’t alone. That our Savior was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. In entering my own pain, the hope that 1 Peter refers to, the eternal hope we have, became front and center.
I finally allowed myself to be vulnerable and weep and, in that pain and weeping, I was releasing strongholds of bitterness in my heart. It isn’t a one and done. It isn’t a linear process. It comes in waves, this deep grief. When the offenses of my husband and friends are front and center in my mind and heart, I am making decisions. Sometimes I decide to enter the pain and lament, weep, pray and release. Other days I get angry and catch myself. I question; what is at the root of the anger? What am I trying to accomplish? Am I trying to never be vulnerable and get hurt again? Am I giving too much control to the pain, thinking, erroneously that it will somehow make my life “better”?
The text I sent is me realizing how very deeply I loved this woman who is no longer a part of my life. It is the grief of the destruction that is caused by sin in the breaking of relationships that had so much history. But it is also hope. It is hope in the ONE who is able and willing and whose heart is aligned to reconciliation. Forgiveness releases me to live with my heart open knowing the Lord is willing and able; always, to protect, heal and change me. And I believe He will do the same for those women, my friends. I believe that He is doing that in my husband. At the end of the day, I am so grateful that He is God, Lord over all, and I am not.