Do I really have to forgive?

I really could hardly stand to be in the same room with my husband, much less talk to him. However, I knew that the months to come were going to be the greatest challenge we had faced in our marriage. I knew that somehow I had to find a starting point to begin to get past all the bitterness and hatred. Mind you, these were not peaceful days in my household. If my husband and I talked, it usually resulted in one or both of us screaming at the other (usually, it was me screaming at him). With my temper, I am also guilty of having slammed many doors and stomped out of many rooms with a scowl on my face during this time.

Forgiveness…you may ask yourself how on earth I could forgive the man who had betrayed me so deeply. For me, it was an essential part of being able to move forward and find a place of healing. Very soon after my husband told me about his affair, we were in bed. It may have been the very night of his confession…I cannot remember exactly. I told him very simply and with no emotion, “I forgive you. I’m saying it now so that when things get really hard, I will have this moment to look back to.” Of course, forgiveness by no means meant that what he did was okay or excusable. It did not mean that I was still not very angry and hurt and profoundly sad. It certainly did not mean that we didn’t have some serious issues to discuss and resolve. It also was no guarantee that our marriage could be salvaged, or even that I wanted it to be salvaged at that moment. No, my confession with my mouth was simply a verbal recognition of what God had already told me I must do, and soon. I did not feel the feelings of forgiveness for quite some time, but I had made the conscious choice by an act of my will to forgive and not keep throwing trash at my husband. I wish I could say that I did not ever go back on this confession by my actions…As I stated earlier in this post, we had screaming matches and the big ugly “D” word was thrown around many times. In fact, the choice to forgive my husband and walk in that forgiveness was something I had to make daily and sometimes several times a day.

Jesus said that if we hate our brother then the love of God is not in us. He also said that if we do not forgive those who have hurt us, then He will not forgive us. Apparently, God takes forgiveness very seriously. I also know that if we choose to hold on to bitterness and anger, we never find a place of healing. It is like our relationship with God gets stuck in time. We grow cold and stale in that relationship, and every other relationship in our lives is affected, whether we realize it or not. I was not going to go back to that bad place…had been there, done that, and that is no way to live. Especially when you claim to have the spirit of God living in you. How could I consciously hold on to hatred and unforgiveness toward my husband and say that I love God? It’s impossible!

You see, as a Christian, I really don’t have the right to not forgive someone. Who am I to not forgive when Jesus forgave me of so much and more than I realize? The choice to not forgive would have been like me putting myself above God and saying that I was better than him. God tells us in the Bible that his mercy and compassion are endless and are renewed daily. As part of that, when he forgives us, he doesn’t even remember the sin anymore…It’s like it never existed. For those of you wondering, yes, I did sometimes (well, probably many times) throw up my husband’s actions to him. Sometimes, I would do it very sarcastically–I just wanted to hurt him a tenth of the amount he had hurt me. (I’m all too human, can you tell?). Again, I was in a process, and sometimes I reacted out of anger and hurt, and not out of my earlier choice.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that the choice to forgive my husband early in the process was pivotal. God reminded me of my choice numerous times, and I had to ask forgiveness for my unforgiving attitude and spirit and repent from my actions. Believe me, I did not need the weight that unforgiveness brings hanging on me. I had enough weight on me already! As I look back, I am thankful that the spirit of God nudged me (more like a shove, really) to forgive my husband before things went too far. God knows me all too well…I would have been a mean, vindictive, and spiteful person if I had chosen to let the hurt, anger and bitterness take over. Instead, I was able to let the love of God move me to love my husband and think beyond the moment–to gain a perspective of eternity, of what kind of legacy I was going to leave. And that is truly the heart of forgiveness…seeing with the eyes of God and seeing with an eternal perspective

One thought on “Do I really have to forgive?

  1. I am literally sitting here crying as I reading this. I totally agree with you. When I married my husband, it was for better or worse and even though he made a mistake, I don’t believe I should just end things. I know my husband at his best, I see the remorse in his heart, I see the pain and self hate that he is feeling because he can’t forgive himself for what he did. Each day that passes (its been 7 months since he came back, he left for 4 days when I found out….and the affair in total only lasted approximately 2 months) I rely on the Lord to give me strength, peace, and the ability to continue on this journey of forgiveness. I would have never been able to get this far without God’s help. God reminds me each day that forgiveness is the only way for peace. God sent his Son to die for us while we were still sinners. He LOVED us enough to give us that chance to accept His redemption despite all of the evil that we as human beings are capable of. Everyday despite my best intentions, I will make mistakes, I will sin, it is simply our human nature. But GOD chooses to LOVE me still just on the basis that I accepted HIS SON, his precious gift of redemption. That is Unconditional Love. God is Love. He inspires me to see the best in my husband.

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