Evaluate all my relationships.
Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others.
Forgiveness isn’t based on a feeling. Think about it, do you ever feel like forgiving someone? Or do you ruminate over ways to get back at them, or hope they get what they deserve? We keep score. We tally up the wrongs and maybe consider what they did right. We spout out “vengeance is MINE” but we forget the last part, ‘Says The Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
This week in Life’s Healing Choices we’ll take steps to mend relationships. Now, this doesn’t mean we will magically have the Hallmark moments, grand reunions, tears of joy from our reconciliations. But it will bring freedom from the harbored emotions when we let it all go in to His hands.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Colossians 3:13 NLT
Now, if you had asked me at the time what good would come out of my failed marriages, I would have said nothing. Today, I can look back and see God’s guiding hand, bringing me to a healthier place in life. All because of His mercy & love.
When I met my ex-husband, I was ending a bad marriage and an affair … definitely NOT the time I should have been getting involved with anyone else. But he swooped down and took care of me by making me laugh, doing small things to show he appreciated me, surprised me with visits & phone calls. It was the romancing and wooing we all want. Looking back, I should have seen signs that things weren’t going to work out well. Friends joked that he had bad luck, nothing ever turned out well for him, etc. Sometimes he was the brunt of the jokes just because his choices usually led to poor outcomes. But he had explanations for everything (excuses, really), and I wanted the companionship too much to listen. At one point, his mother commented that I was the best thing to ever happen to her son, but she didn’t know what I saw in him. Wow … did I really just hear that from his mom? Hindsight being what it is, I wish I had explored that comment more deeply. Instead, I listened when he told me the relationship with his mom had been strained since his parent’s divorce and he was closer to his dad.
Fast-forward about 4 years and you’ll find us married, raising a new baby, juggling jobs with family life. We quarreled about his excessive time on the computer or role-playing games with friends. He was too distracted to really be a good husband or father. We had just purchased our first home together. Our jobs were solid with promising futures. I had finished a college program; he was just starting one. The bad times seemed justified by the stress around us.
Suddenly, in a flash, it all came crumbling down around me. In the blink of an eye, I learned of lies, inner demons, addictions, and secrets that he had been keeping from me … from everyone, really. This changed everything about my life without my knowledge, agreement or consent! But for the first time in my life, I didn’t blame God. I didn’t curse at Him, demanding to know what I had done to deserve this fate. I turned to God. I cried out to Him with a desperation I had not felt before, because I knew He was always there for me.
I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
Ps 34:4-5 NLT
During this time, I was embraced by a church community. I learned what God’s “peace that passes all understanding” truly feels like (Philippians 4:7). I learned to lean on Him. I learned to accept help from others around me. I learned to trust again. I learned to love again. I learned to forgive.
I read once that harboring anger, resentment and an unforgiving heart only hurts us. The other person goes on with their life, without a care in the world, completely oblivious to the fact we’re fuming and miserable. We may be angry, but it doesn’t affect their life any anyway. So until we learn to let it go, it continues to eat away at us, hardening our heart more and more with each passing day.
It wasn’t an easy process, I assure you. And, I can’t give a date when it happened. I just know that through the following years, my heart softened as I learned more about my identity in Christ. I accepted more that he needed God’s love more than I needed to hate him. At one time, his dad asked if I could help find a Bible for him. They were not believers or church-going people. Rather than tell them what to buy, or ignore their request, I went out and bought one myself. Yes, I bought a Bible for my ex-husband even after all the pain he caused. I realized that I didn’t want to face God one day and have Him say, “all I wanted you to do was give him a Bible, and you said no.” I was being asked to do a simple task, and I answered His call. People ask me how I could forgive him for what he did to his family and friends. How could I not knowing the lengths God went to in order to forgive me? Romans 3:24 CEV
But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.
I stood before a judge and gave my testimony, something called a “victim’s impact statement.” I shared the details of that fateful day. I recalled the excuses and lack of responsibility my ex-husband displayed. And, I shared that I forgave him and how it was by God’s grace that I could stand before them that day. It was the last time I saw my ex-husband face to face. I will never forget the past, and there are days when the pain is still felt and the sorrow washes over me. But the good news is that I don’t harbor the resentment, the animosity … the hatred that initially consumed me. All credit for this transformation of my heart goes to God, and God alone.
This week, we’ll explore more on making amends.
Reading Assignment for Week 6: Chapter 6 of Life’s Healing Choices
Monday: Laurie will discuss Principle 6: The Relationship Choice
Tuesday: Leslie will discuss How do you forgive Others (& Self)?
Wednesday: Kim will discuss Repair by Making Amends
Thursday: Amy will discuss Make The Choice
Friday: Laurie will bring it all back home with a recap of our week
Lord, we cannot begin to thank You enough for the gift of Your forgiveness through Jesus Christ. To know You gave Your Son on our behalf gives us strength to extend grace and mercy to those who have offended us. It’s not an easy task, but it is something we strive for through our healing process. We know that letting go of the pain and resentment is necessary so that we can become more like You. Bless all who read and follow our study this week. Amen.
Power Verses for Chapter 5:
1 Peter 5:10
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
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