I’m not going to lie. When I found out about my ex-husband’s unfaithfulness, I was working as a part time housekeeper in the local hotel. Being alone all day while I worked created a playground for Satan in my mind. I would envision myself bumping into the “other woman” and being nice to her because I’m just better than she is (sarcasm). I also envisioned myself giving her what I thought she had coming. I struggled with trying to forgive her. The harder struggle, though, was trying to control my thoughts. I didn’t want to sound crazy, so I tried to think my prayers in my head or whisper them. I didn’t want to speak them out loud. However, I didn’t get freedom from this mental torment until I began speaking my prayers out loud and fighting these tempting lies in my head with spoken words. As I sought my Lord on how to forgive this woman, here’s what he showed me:
Rain waits in clouds to fall to earth. Earth waits to receive the rain. In the same way, forgiveness must be received; it cannot be harvested. Just as earth cannot take rain from the clouds, we cannot take forgiveness for ourselves, nor can anyone take forgiveness from us.
When rain falls there is a sacrifice. The cloud loses itself and becomes smaller. Likewise, forgiveness requires we surrender our self-will, our desire to hold the offender accountable. There is great responsibility in the choice to forgive or withhold forgiveness.
A lack of rain, if withheld long enough leads to a lack of production, which leads to a lack of nourishment, poor health, and may end in death. Similarly, a lack of forgiveness results in a lack of spiritual production, a lack of spiritual nourishment, poor spiritual and emotional health, and will end in death for the one who withholds forgiveness.
Me: Father, does not wanting to be around a person for some reason (drinking, past unfaithfulness) indicate unforgiveness, or is it a healthy boundary?
God: Depends. Does it trigger your emotions? If so, you may have unforgiveness to deal with. If not, it is likely a healthy boundary to maintain.
Me: How do you separate loving someone like Christ, and being emotionally detached from them?
God: Acceptance. Accept where they are at in their walk. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to accept it. Look at Jesus’ relationship with Judas. Jesus loved and served with Judas (Acts 1:16-17), but did not become emotionally distraught when Judas showed up with the guards in the garden (Luke 22:48).
What I learned is that when I don’t forgive another person, I place myself in God’s judgement seat and I remained bound to the offender with the chain of my emotions. Forgiveness doesn’t let that person off the hook. Forgiveness is the bolt cutter that breaks my bondage to that person. I can have my time, my thoughts, my emotions back and then that person has to answer to God, not me. I get myself out of the seat that rightly belongs to my heavenly Father. I also show my Lord I trust him enough to let him do his job (Romans 12:19). So really, I learned forgiveness is an issue between my God and me, not the offender and me.
I don’t know much. I’m not anybody important. However, I do know this. My mind was tormented by things I didn’t want to think…until I chose to forgive. I prayed “God, I choose to forgive, but help me to forgive as well.” Now, I have peace. I control my thoughts. I enjoy my emotions, and do not feel anxiety when I see or here of that woman anymore. I wish you the same peace and freedom!
But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Forgiveness frees us from the bondage to another person’s sin.
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