After my husband abandoned me for another woman, I experienced a number of symptoms linked to my pain. Immediately I was introduced to insomnia, this wound me up because I wanted to sleep, I needed to sleep, but just couldn’t.
Making the most of these extra hours in my day, long chunks of time were spent in God’s word. Early in our separation, one Saturday evening (or rather Sunday morning at ridiculous o’clock) God spoke to me massively about forgiveness. It was as though I was reading with new eyes.
I was having a tough time with this ‘f’ word:
He wasn’t sorry!
He was still having an affair!
14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
The strangest thing happened as I read these verses; hope started pumping through my veins as a bunch of light bulbs went off in my brain:
- Jesus doesn’t command the impossible – I CAN forgive
- Jesus doesn’t say anything about the sin needing to stop first
- Jesus doesn’t say anything about the offender being sorry first
- Forgiveness or unforgiveness – it’s a choice
- If I choose to forgive – God will forgive me
- If I choose not to forgive – God won’t forgive me
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time.
One question kept going around my head:
- Is what Jesus did enough?
Excitement started bubbling up inside, I knew the forgiveness I’d received from God, so I knew I could forgive Ian. I used my last £10 to catch a taxi to the house I used to share with Ian, bursting to tell him that I’d forgiven him. I left a post-it note on my parents TV telling them not to worry, and to pick me up for Church. (For info – I don’t recommend doing it like this!)
Ian wasn’t as excited to see me; I was greeted with a stern “what’re you doing here?” Not deterred, I sat down to gush about the massive revelation I’d received. I was distracted for a moment as I saw that his wedding ring wasn’t on his finger.
I proceeded to show him all the stuff God had been illuminating to me about forgiveness, and explained to him that I was choosing to forgive him, but not to get confused – I wasn’t condoning what he was doing, no that made me sick.
It didn’t exactly go to plan; Ian did not want my forgiveness. Quite the opposite, he wanted me to hate him. Still bubbling, I chose to forgive. At just the right time my Dad arrived to pick me up for Church – it was Easter Sunday.
The excitement didn’t last. At times I was fighting with myself. I’d decided to forgive, but my feelings hadn’t caught up. Oh and then things got worse when he moved in with the other woman. Is what Jesus did enough?
It wasn’t easy. It was a case of giving a clean slate whenever a negative thought popped into my head, whenever a mind movie decided to start, whenever I wanted to speak badly about my husband or the other woman, anything. Choosing to forgive day by day, and at the start even hour by hour. I was asking God a lot for grace, grace to forgive, grace to be the wife He designed me to be, and so he drenched me in His grace to do what I could not do on my own.
I was given plenty of opportunities to practice my forgiveness, it became habit, and a habit I’m eternally grateful for. I have no doubt that this habit established in our separation set us up for success in our reconciliation, and for the beautiful resurrected marriage God promised us!
God is immense!