He’s broken your heart and left you for another.
He calls and tells you he’s sorry. The thing is, he’s still with her. You mumble something and hang up.
Questions swirl in your mind. Is he asking for forgiveness? He hasn’t asked in so many words, but you wonder if that’s his under- lying message. Does he deserve to be forgiven? Can you forgive? Do you want to? Why should you forgive?
The scene I’ve described exemplifies many betrayal scenarios. In my case, my newly minted ex said he was sorry I was “hurting so much.” I considered that a non-apology, as he accepted no direct responsibility for my pain. Nevertheless, I wrestled with forgiveness.
Does he have a guilty conscience?
It would seem the hypothetical ex-spouse I’ve described is wrestling with a guilty conscience. You must admit that saying one is sorry is the beginning of repentance, but is that enough to prompt you to forgive? After all, your ex hasn’t undone the deed. His words seen hollow, and you don’t feel like forgiving him.
Let’s say you don’t believe he’s really sorry. You can’t even think about forgiveness unless he’s really, truly sorry, right?
Does he deserve your forgiveness?
Okay, so maybe he’s genuinely sorry. You’re still deeply hurt. What he did to you was wrong, wrong, wrong, and you’ll never be the same. You’ve been told you should forgive anyway, but how can that be? You simply don’t have it in yourself to do so.
As a Christian, I believed I should forgive my ex, but I didn’t know how. I went to my lead pastor and asked that question. He pointed out the passages in the Bible that address forgiveness … passages I was already familiar with. They all urged for- giveness, but I still didn’t understand how. I went to our singles ministry pastor, and not only did he say I should forgive, but that I should pray for my ex’s new marriage! No Way!
What do victims of unfaithfulness do with the struggle over forgiveness?
Before you can forgive, you need to forgive yourself for being angry and unforgiving. You’ve suffered a major blow, and you need time to do some recovery work. You are not a bad person for not being ready to forgive.
Why would you want to forgive?
Unrelenting unforgiveness traps us in the past; hanging onto the pain only brings more pain. Forgiveness breaks the cycle of pain and victimhood we’ve been carrying and frees us emotionally from the person who’s hurt us. Rooting out unforgiveness leaves room for joy in new experiences. My friend, Debbie Hucke notes, “[Forgiveness] releases the flow of God’s grace and His healing power. By acknowledging your pain, not just with your head but with your whole being, you open the door for healing and forgiveness.”
Want to know how to forgive?
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