Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Hey second-marriagers! I hope you are having a good long weekend! It is Good Friday today, an important time for those of us who identify as Christians. As a Christian, Good Friday has always been a day of reflection and soul-searching for me. It makes me think about redemption and forgiveness. Tonight, I wanted to share an excerpt from the upcoming book, Second Marriage: An Insider’s Guide to Hope, Healing & Love. It is about forgiveness.
Book Excerpt (Chapter 10)
Forgiveness is the Third Step Required for Healing
The third step required for healing from our past is forgiveness. Forgiveness can feel like it’s ripping our soul apart. To forgive is to let go … let go of your need to punish the wrongdoer. It is releasing the person who hurt you and releasing yourself from focusing on it.
Sometimes it is hard to let it go because it seems so unfair. It is unfair that you were blindsided by a divorce. Unfair that you were betrayed or abused or neglected.It is unfair and you want to hold unto it, in order to hold unto yourself and the part of you that knows how wrong it was. You fear that if you forgive, you may be saying that the hurt part of yourself didn’t really matter. That you are abandoning yourself.
Forgive Them, For They Don’t Know
One of the most famous quotes about forgiveness comes from the story of Jesus on the cross. While he was hanging down, bleeding and broken, he yelled out these puzzling words. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
He asked God to forgive the men who plotted his death. I have sometimes wondered about these words, “they know not what they do,” because these men seemed to know exactly what they were doing! The Scriptures say that they plotted and schemed to get rid of someone they hated very much. It looked like it was very deliberate.
So, why did he claim they did not know what they were doing? Jesus saw it in a deeper way. The men who plotted for his demise may have known what they were doing on a practical level but they were not aware of the long-term consequences of what was happening. They could only see their petty power struggles and their own desires. They were blind to the pain of anyone else.
They Have a Blind Spot
What if we could adopt these same words for ourselves? Forgive them, because they did not know what they were doing. And let’s face it: they probably didn’t. In some cases, someone may have schemed to cheat, to abandon, to divorce us … but they really were not aware of the long-term consequences of what they were doing. In other cases, it was pure weakness. They were not capable of any more than they gave.
Perhaps they are not capable of understanding anyone’s feelings but their own. For others, they were caught in a dangerous passion or habit that would destroy many a life, including their own. When we forgive them, we are not saying that what they did was okay but we are saying that they really did not understand the extent of the consequences.
The ones that wronged us had a blind spot in them that blocked them from seeing how much hurt they really caused. Whether it was mental illness, a bad childhood or simple selfishness, their eyes were blinded to the consequences of what they were doing.They really did not know what they did, often until it was too late.
For many years, I struggled with forgiveness because I thought it meant letting people off the hook. When I began to realize that forgiveness did not mean I was justifying what they had done, it began to seem more possible.
Forgiveness means that we are no longer responsible for judging someone else for what they have done wrong against us. or punishing them. It means letting go and letting God (or whatever higher power you believe in) deal with the consequences.
Bitterness is a Poison
When we got married, my husband and I both had bitterness against people in our past and the results on our marriage were devastating. Unforgiveness made us closed to love and quick to judge. Our new marriage was being poisoned by the actions done against us in the past.
Our bitterness was understandable. We had both been wronged. We had both tried to be good partners but felt it was rejected. The truth is, though, no matter how justified the bitterness, it is still a poison that will destroy an individual and a marriage.
Forgiveness was not an easy path. It was not automatic but when we were able to forgive, it was like our very souls had been set free. When bitterness no longer gripped us with its heavy talons, we were free to trust the other person and to see them as they really were. We stopped seeing each other through the filter of the past and were finally able to view the partner who really loved us.
When you can’t forgive, it turns into bitterness and hurts you more than it hurts anyone else. Forgiveness frees you to begin each day afresh. Forgiveness is not always a quick and automatic process. We may believe that we have forgiven someone but then a trigger happens, and we realize that we are still carrying around resentment. That is okay — like an onion, the process happens in layers
This is an excerpt from the book, Second Marriage: An Insider’s Guide to Hope, Healing and Love. If you have enjoyed this story and would like to read the rest of the book, sign up here for updates on the book. The book is scheduled to launch the end of April 2017.