On where I’m at with forgiveness…

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.

what’s breaking my heart today…

I feel really fortunate to come alongside women with a similar story to mine and give them a safe place for them to process their pain and take the next step on their journey.  It’s certainly not easy – I still {and always will} deal with triggers, I still {and always will} carry their stories with me.  Speaking of stories – these women’s stories – they are precious.  Each one of them is a fighter with a heart of gold and enough courage to blow your mind.  Their lives have been far from easy.  And if they were easy, they aren’t anymore.  Many of them have sat in silence for months and even years while their husbands have been unfaithful to them.  These women – they feel tossed aside.  Many of these women have been told to spice up their sex lives, have a hearty meal on the table, try not to fuss or nag.  This will fix it, they were told, but it didn’t work.  It won’t work.

So they reach out for help.  Slowly but surely.  They wave the white flag.

And here is the thing – these women want nothing more than for their marriage to not only survive but to also thrive.  They are willing to put in the hard work, to do whatever it takes to heal.  They understand that they’ll have scars and they have all the hope in the world that they will use their pain for good in this life.

What they are asking for from their husbands isn’t too much to ask:  They want honesty.  They want respect.  They want the dignity to know the full truth.  They want integrity.  They want faithfulness.  They want empathy.  They want emotional intimacy.  They want conversation and connection.  They want to see that their husbands are sorry not just in their words but also in their actions.  They want humility.  They want Godly leadership.  They want to see their husbands be all they know their husbands can be.

I see these women give their husbands 2nd, 3rd and 4th chances to do this recovery the right way.  I see these women bend over backwards trying to make sure that their husbands have every possible chance to redeem themselves.  To allow God to start to change them.  They hand their husbands over to God and trust Him with the one they love the most on this planet.

Now I understand that I’m a little one-sided since I work with women and not their husbands.  What I’m having trouble understanding is why, as a husband, you’d prefer to continue to hurt your wife.  Why you’d choose to blame her, criticize her, and defend yourself.  When all the while – you, mister {don’t make me say buster}, you are the one that can be redeemed.  You are the one that can live a better life.  You are the one that can move past your shame and guilt and live life full and change your legacy for generations to come.  I’ve seen it happen.  It IS possible.

Because here is the thing.

When you, as a husband, start to chase after God.  When you let go of your selfish ways and run with a reckless abandon toward who He is calling you to be – chances are, your wife will follow.

She knew this person was in you.  She saw it from the moment she met you.  She won’t want that man to pass her by.

And a beautiful thing begins to happen.  She will start to chase after that same God as well like never before.  She will start to pursue what He has put on her heart.

She has the freedom to do this because you have led.  She isn’t expending all her energy dealing with you anymore!

So it starts with you, mister husband {aka buster}.  And this is exactly what’s breaking my heart.  Because not only have you wrecked your wife’s heart – but you also are the one to ultimately decide – will your marriage thrive?  Or will your marriage be a casualty.  Because even if it stays intact and you do nothing to move toward sanctification – the marriage is dead.  It’s a casualty.

I hear Jason in my head because he always says – very rarely will a wife leave her husband because of what he’s done.  No, most often, a wife chooses divorce when her husband either 1)  chooses not to tell the truth or 2)  won’t allow God to change Him from the inside out.  Not just from a sexual integrity stand point but from a character stand point as well.

Because let’s face it.  You, mister husband, you are NOT the best CEO of your life.  If you were – you wouldn’t be reading this blog post, now would you.  If you were, your wife wouldn’t be reading this blog post either, now would she?

So what’s it going to take for you to let go?  To acknowledge that you need help?  That you are destroying your life as well as your family’s?

Know that there is hope for you.  I’m married to a man that has changed.  I know other couples that are living a life of grace, peace, honesty, and love.  It IS possible.  So go.  Do it now.  Whatever it takes.  Godspeed to you.

 

Giving myself grace {An update on loving myself well – a 2015 intentional (#1)}

Friendships are a gift.  I hold them close and try not to take them for granted.  Friendships are also difficult.  I’ve experienced the difficult side as of late.  Within the difficult, I’ve allowed myself to grieve and process for months now.  And the processing continues.

Allow me to pause on that thought and bring in another:  I read Donald Miller’s Scary Close earlier this month.  It’s a fabulous book.  In fact, it’s my favorite read thus far of 2015.  It’s all about intimacy.  And within the book, Don talks about a concept he learned while away at a retreat.  The therapist put three pillows on the floor and asked for Don and another person to stand on two of the pillows.  The pillow Don was standing on was his life, his territory, his soul.  And the pillow the other person was standing on was her life, her territory, her soul.  The third pillow symbolized their relationship.  Each could stand on that third pillow (which symbolized the relationship) but never was it okay to stand on each other’s pillow.  “What goes on in the other person’s soul is none of your business.”  And in this way, we aren’t controlling or managing another needlessly.

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Back to friendship. Although I have felt a ton of pain over words said, I also have desired to be completely gracious and fair.  And in that, I’ve opened up my heart to owning what I need to own.  This has been very much a growth thing for me.  I’ll admit my pride wants to self-protect, strong-arm, and blame.  Humble pie is hard to swallow.

And I think I might be on to something – what if I’ve stepped on someone else’s pillow?  (I know, you can laugh…we are talking about pillows here.)  What if I have tried to control and manage?  What if I have done this in other relationships unknowingly as well?  What if it took these difficulties for me to see my role?

I’d rather not “what if” myself into the ground.  And let me just tell you how hard I’ve had to try to love myself well through this.  To cast out the lies that circle around like a rotisserie grille in my head.

For me, it comes down to a choice.  Will I choose to give myself grace?  To walk in the freedom of imperfection.  To make mistakes. To allow this to be an opportunity for personal growth.  And to hope that others will love me in spite of my ugly.

Or will I choose to hear the lies.  To withdraw and self-protect.  To blame and criticize.  These choices never end well.

Today I choose the former.  And it seems that every few days I find myself at another cross-road.  And I’m faced with the same decision.

Although this post is focused on friendship, the same applies in marriage.  It’s that delicate balance of allowing our selves and those we are close to to make their own decisions and be their own person all the while loving, accepting and forgiving each other through it all.  Is this hard for you?  Or maybe it’s just me.