On where I’m at with forgiveness…

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

I’ve grown to love the topic of forgiveness.  It’s complex, fascinating and I feel like I learn something new every time one of my groups discusses it.

I guess I expected that at some point, my forgiveness journey would end.  No laughing people.  Seriously, I thought at some point (and certainly by twelve years in), I’d have conquered the forgiveness quest. But… that hasn’t been the case.  Because here is what I know about forgiveness:  it’s a process.  Not only is it a process but I believe it’s also an event.  Paula Rinehardt said it so well in Strong Women Soft Hearts when she said “Forgiveness is both an event and a process.  It’s one big yes followed by many little yeses as the months and years roll by.”

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By event, I mean that for myself, there was a moment in time when I said “Yes.  I choose to forgive you!”  (Followed by a sundry of thoughts both before and after like, “There is no way I can do this.  He will stop working his recovery” and “How can I possibly ever forgive him” and “Did I really forgive him?”)  And since then, I’ve had to continue to press into saying “yes” with all the twists and turns in the road called recovery.

Whether it’s because forgiveness has been a topic coming up in groups or random triggers or satan trying to derail me (or a combo of all),  I have struggled more than usual lately with the bitter thoughts that pitch a tent in my head like an unwelcome visitor.  I’ve had to talk to Jason in the last week about several triggers and more dots that I’ve connected from the past.  He has been receptive, empathetic and very sorry.  He has allowed his tears to flow.  And for that – I’m grateful.

And yet, I find myself – no matter what – faced with the moment I’ve faced so many times in the past.  When all I can do is let it go.  Open my hands wide.  Press hard into forgiving him.  Forgiving them.  Forgiving her.  I say out loud, ” I choose”.  And place my faith in God.  That somehow, someway, He will do a miracle in my heart and soul.  Again.

Because Jesus tells us, we can’t place a number on how many times to forgive. He tells us to forgive until our heart is healed.  However long that takes.  And maybe we will continue to choose into forgiveness forever and ever this side of heaven.  And maybe, just maybe, that is okay.

Forgiveness isn’t perfect.  Forgiveness isn’t even logical.  Forgiveness isn’t a one time thing.

Forgiveness is supernatural.  And I’m never ever going to feel in my human heart like doing it. But this, dear sisters, is what I can tell you:  I know it works.  God does the unthinkable and takes the bitterness away.  One small bit at a time.

God has proven himself to be faithful to me and He will be faithful to you.  Take that leap of faith.  Step off the cliff and have faith that He will catch you.  Again and again and again.

6 thoughts on “On where I’m at with forgiveness…

  1. BethW

    January 22, 2016  |  07:46 pm

    Oh Shelley- I so remember the time I first talked to you. You called from the airport to discuss a support group with me and I was in church- nearly in tears and sick from my pastor’s sermon on forgiveness . He said that if you don’t forget, you haven’t forgiven. I knew that was impossible but I was so badly in crisis, early after discovery, shattered into a million pieces,feeling like I was barely treading water, and I had started the forgiveness process with my husband, and boy, it IS a process!!! If I had not started forgiving him, I wouldn’t have been able to stay with him. Now, 14 months post discovery, I am still forgiving. I agree completely with you that bitter thoughts can start and you know that there is another layer to forgive. He had 25 years of acting out and doing horrible things- how can a wife be expected to wipe the slate clean in one swoop? It doesn’t happen, that’s how. SA is so multifaceted in its ugliness and wounding and as wives, we are so deeply wounded and traumatized, we must give ourselves grace in the process of forgiveness. Not only does Jesus tell us we must, because He knows unforgiveness would destroy us, but we can’t heal with bitterness eating away at us. Do we have every right to be angry and hurt-absolutely, and my tendency early on was to hold onto the anger to protect my heart. There is no way to count how many times I have had to ask and beg God to help me forgive him, and I know it will continue. I think Satan takes great pleasure in reminding us of the things they’ve done, to try to make us bitter and destroy us and our marriage. But forgiveness destroys Satan’s plan. Seek peace, joy, and forgiveness for yourself- you deserve the comfort and healing that comes from it. Don’t expect it to be fast or easy or all inclusive, but know that it is the best thing for a wife to do.


  2. Lisa Taylor

    January 23, 2016  |  07:06 am

    Another excellent article, Shelley. Been on that same challenging road recently. Felt God saying that it’s easier if I let go of the anger (at him) let my anger focus on the behavior and then dive into the grief. I couldn’t have done this originally, but I can now (as much as anger and thoughts of lashing out feel more comfortable and familiar). I have a weird idea that God also said that the further I get into forgiveness, the more my body will heal (as my health hasn’t been great for years — but has seen some improvement in the last year). Does make some sense — I always understood that unforgiveness hurts us more than them (just hadn’t thought about the physical side before).


    • Shelley Martinkus

      January 23, 2016  |  10:53 pm

      Great point Lisa. Our bodies reap the benefits of forgiveness, too! It’s a win-win!


  3. DanyB

    January 25, 2016  |  01:16 am

    Here is the interesting thing for me. I believe that forgiveness is more about me than it is about my SA. The hard part for me still is that if I live in forgiveness will I jump into denial? In saying that I know that I have forgiven because I wish my SA no harm even though he has traumatized me so. I am afraid that revealing to my SA that I have forgiven in some way will cause him to relax and not fight for me like he has been. It really isn’t about control (I hope) but mainly denial..I am so afraid of living in denial. I was so happy and in love before disclosure happened and in some ways so much of that died. I know my joy is found in the Lord and not my circumstances…I am praying that knowledge becomes not just head knowledge but heart knowledge soon.


  4. Godspeach

    January 29, 2016  |  01:56 am

    Shelley, Shelley. Thank You again. People who give Forgiveness Cliches without having to truly go through the process really work my nerves!! Sometimes, it has taken everything that The Spirit gives lately to not pummel someone.
    The enormous strain that has been placed on so many unsuspecting women for the rest of our lives because of the Betrayal Trauma is PURE EVIL!!
    We have to ask the the Lord for supernatural strength and grace to forgive them for PEOPLE ATE TRULY IGNORANT.
    It makes me want to make sure that I JOIN IN THE BATTLE TO HELP EDUCATE & Help see That This Foolishness doesn’t destroy another woman while she bears it alone.
    Bless you
    Queen Among Women


  5. Heidi

    January 31, 2016  |  06:17 am

    I highly recommend The Unburdened Heart, Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller. I have not forgiven my husband yet, but I’m actively working to get to the point where I can make that choice. I like what you say about the event as well as the ongoing process. I know my husband can’t earn forgiveness, but I can’t help thinking it would be easier to forgive if he were more — more sorry, more loving, …Well, still working on this and it’s been 3 years since discovery. Thank you for your vulnerability and transparency, Shelley!


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