“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:14-15, NIV
Forgiveness is a rather difficult concept to grasp.
But it is vital to grasp it as Jesus is clear in these verses above regarding our need to forgive. While I do not consider this a first task for a faithful spouse fresh off of adultery discovery, I do consider it something that needs to be done as per Our Lord’s own words.
We need to start this journey at some point.
It may just begin by asking God for the grace to want to forgive. You do not have to make it all the way on the first step.
Remember: Forgiveness is a process like healing is a process. The deeper the wound and the greater the wrong, the longer the forgiving process is.
And forgiveness is a choice.
Not a feeling.
How do I know?
You do not command feelings. That is not how emotions work.
But Jesus commanded us to forgive. It is an act of the will.
For me, I choose not to take my rightful revenge on my ex-wife even though it would be just. I forgave and forgive her. My job is no longer to exact my “pound of flesh” from her.
She is in God’s hands now (i.e. a fearful place for her according to Hebrews 10:26-27).
Practically speaking, some days I had to remind myself that I had made this choice. It was hard to let go of the anger and pain–especially with those who supported her wickedness.
It was easy to get caught up in ruminating thoughts about how wrong she and her cohorts were; plus how I wanted to make them pay. At those points, I would sometimes reach up as if nailing those sins to the Cross. This act–a prophetic act–reminded me that I had left it there. I had chosen to forgive. It was a flexing of my will. I was obeying God. These sins were now God’s business, not mine.
As an encouragement, it does get better as we flex our will to choose forgiveness. Though, it may not feel like it right now.
I am not caught up in the anger or pain I had once experienced when the wounds were fresh. Also, I am not consumed by the desire to know how my ex-wife is fairing. Has she felt God smite her yet? That is not a driving thought anymore. I do not need revenge to move forward in my life.
Personally, I am too busy living, loving, and ministering to others to care.
I hope for each one of you, faithful spouses, that you find yourself in a similar place one day. It is not that we forget what happened–I know what I experienced and am forever shaped by it–but we are no longer held in bondage by the pain or need for revenge. That is a good place to be.
I am pretty confident such freedom is the life Jesus wants for each of us
why he commanded us to forgive.