Somewhere around a year and a half in I wanted desperately to forgive my husband. Part of it was, I wanted the pain gone. Another part of it was the lessons in church on how we “should” forgive. So, I would pray often for God to help me.
One time, triggered and in pain, I cried out “God just please let me forgive. Please heal my heart.”
I got an answer back clear as day, “No.” God simply said “No, its not time yet.”
I was so taken back. Why in the world if God believed so much in forgiveness, would he tell me not to forgive? My mind raced. Was my husband still acting out? Did this mean he would soon? My mind spun with a million scenarios.
After much prayer, I choose to trust God and let go of worrying about forgiveness. Instead, I turned my focus to trusting God and continuing to heal ME.
Over the following 6-8 months, I still had the desire to forgive, but I let go of trying to force it. I just told God, “You know my heart. If it comes, I will take the gift. If not, that’s okay too. And if I die tomorrow, you know my heart. And that’s good enough.”
Somewhere in those next eight months forgiveness came. For me, it wasn’t some grand momentous moment. It was fleeting feelings here and there. Bits came and went. Sometimes the feeling stuck around for longer. It was so gradual; I can’t pinpoint when it “happened.”
I do remember over two years in, realizing one day that I thought I might actually have forgiven. I sat on it for a few weeks just seeing if I trusted the feelings. After a month or so, I told my husband, “I just want you to know, I forgive you. I still have a lot of stuff to work through, but I don’t have malice towards you anymore.” I wondered as it came out of my mouth if I would instantly want to take them back. But it felt good. I knew it was true.
You know what is response was? NOTHING. He said nothing!
He sat there for like 15 minutes silent, mumbled something or another and left for work. I was fully expecting him to be like kissing my feet and crying.
I was like, “Um, excuse me, did you not just see this gift I gave YOU???”
It was later when we both had done our processing did he share how stunned he was. He had no idea what to do with this information and also struggled with his own shame on if he deserved forgiveness.
It took me a few days to realize it, but the forgiveness I gave Luke really had nothing to do with him. I mean it did because I was forgiving him of the offense, but it really was for me. This quote was instrumental in my understanding forgiveness
“How will we get back what we lost if we simply forgive? How can this be fair? In most cases, and certainly in the case of serious wrongdoing, those who have injured or robbed us are not in a position to restore what they have taken. They cannot make full restitution for our lost peace of mind, self-esteem, or sense of well-being. They cannot give us back lost trust, hope, or safety. They cannot restore our lost options or heal our worldview. So if the people who hurt us cannot restore these things to us, how can we ever get back what we lost?
As we grant mercy, we gain the right to reclaim our lost blessings from Jesus Christ himself. When we forgive others, Christ assumes their debt to us, and we can then look to him for the healing, peace, security, hope, trust, well-being, and self-image he alone can restore. He is willing to take this debt if we are willing to release the original debtor to him to deal with on his terms and with his infinite wisdom and perspective on all the factors involved in their choices. “We allow Jesus to deal as he sees fit with those who owed us, for now the debt is between him and them alone. We get out of the middle.”
Seen in this light, forgiving others their debts is not simply pretending nobody owes us, which would not be just. It is rather a process of turning to Christ for the things we have lost, rather than turning to those who cannot restore our losses anyway.”Dr. Wendy Ulrich “The Temple Experience”
When I could stop looking to Luke to fix something he truly wasn’t capable of fixing, I could find healing. Yes, he could certainly help my healing or hinder it, but ultimately he could never heal me.
I thought a lot about that day that God told me no when I wanted to forgive my husband. I believe the reason He said no was that there were still important lessons I needed. Had I forgiven when I wanted it, I would have missed out on lessons that have shaped me today.
My advice? Allow yourself to be where you are. Be gentle with yourself. When bits of forgiveness come, enjoy them. And when they go, let that be okay. In time, God will continue to heal you.
Article written by Alana Gordon, MFT -I. Alana is the program director for the WORTH Program with Life Changing Services as well as the co-owner of Choose Coaching, LLC specializing in betrayal trauma and addiction coaching. She is a MFT-I and a betrayal trauma coach. To learn more about Alana or to book an individual coaching session, visit ChooseRecoveryServices.com