There have been countless articles, books, preached sermons, and empowering lectures spoken on the topic of forgiveness throughout our time. It seems to be such a prevalent issue that continuously inspires people to write on it time and time again. It’s an ageless matter that never gets old or useless from generation to generation. Different faces, from various places during distinct times will craft their unique thoughts and opinions on the value of forgiveness. Although written in different ways with dissimilar tones, all the messages proclaim how necessary and beneficial the process of forgiving is in the lives of every human being. Another similarity in forgiveness messages is that the act is more for the person who has become offended by another than the offender themselves.
So what could I possibly add to this matter that has not already been addressed? Not much; just my own experience in finally taking the advice to heart. I don’t consider myself a person who harbors or holds grudges for long. You have to really do something beyond description for that to happen. I have had instances like this occur throughout my lifetime; mainly by people who I care for the most. Sometimes I have forgiven and maintained working at the relationship while other times I have had to make the decision of forgiving my offender but letting them go at the same time. The act of forgiveness has taken place but the person’s order of importance in my life may have forever been changed as a result. I have learned that this is necessary sometimes as well in order to move on and grow….
In 2014 I experienced a miraculous process of forgiveness that I never thought would be possible. I want to share this encounter because I really do believe it is my first real act of exercising true and complete forgiveness while becoming a willing participant of saving the relationship. I don’t think I have ever experienced forgiveness at this level in my entire life. Hopefully my story will help and inspire one of my readers.
I married my husband in October of 2014. We had a beautiful yet intimate wedding with close family and friends and planned the event in 4 short months. Most would stop and think that this alone is a beautiful situation however, when our history is considered most would wonder how we ever got to the altar!
We are not newlyweds that don’t know each other and drowning in heavenly new relationship bliss. On the contrary we are going on nine years in each other’s lives. Our relationship has been, for lack of better words, excessively rocky and off and on at various times during these nine years. No matter what we put each other through, we just could not let go permanently. Too much time vested, too many memories established, and bonds created that were unbreakable contributed to our vicious cycle of on again, off again. Truth of the matter is, we are soul mates and best friends. No one knows him like I do and no one knows me like he does. One commonality among us during our rocky years is that we were extremely afraid of committing due to coming out of our previously failed marriages. We purposely at times sabotaged our partnership in a crazed effort of not falling too deeply. As you can probably guess that did not work!
My husband has hurt my heart over the years prior to us exchanging vows like no other. Habitual and repetitive behavior patterns that most relationships could not survive was a huge problem. As a reaction to his actions I would do things to make him hurt as much as he made me. We would separate, be ok for a little while, cry, apologize then return to each other’s arms and start the process all over again.
In the winter of 2013 I got this incredible strength to break the adverse cycle by ending the relationship. I purposely put up barriers to make sure I would not give in again. He noticed this new resilience in me and thought for sure he had lost me forever. This break was our longest and lasted nearly a year. We had never gone that long without each other but it was a blessing in disguise. I remember hating him for everything he had done to me but could not completely not talk to him because we had a young son together who was nearly two years old at the time. I remember being as civil as I could when I had to talk to him but then would quickly escalate into a raged mad woman when he would try to change the subject. I wanted to be done for good. I would cuss, insult him, call him names and repeat all the horrid details of the things he had done in an effort to remind him why I was done for good.
When I was not talking to him I noticed that my attitude was not healthy. I was bitter, angry, resentful, mean-spirited and just not a nice person to be around. All of these negative emotions were a direct result of me not forgiving but I did not know this at the time. I was dying mentally and spiritually; I needed help. My breaking point was when I caused such a scene in a popular shopping store around the holidays because the customer service representative did not treat me as I felt I deserved as a paying and repeat patron. That day I knew I was out of control and needed to deal with the route of my anger.
One evening we talked. The conversation was like no other that we have ever had in the past. He just wanted me to listen. He pour out his heart and soul and was the most transparent that I have ever heard him to be. He shared his struggles as a man, and pain that I had no idea he was dealing with. There was no way I could hang up, get angry, or interrupt as would be my normal response to any subject other than our son. During this moment I experienced complete forgiveness. I no longer saw him as the man who has repeatedly hurt me, but rather a wounded human being who was crying out for help. Although we were not together, truth still remained that I was indeed still his best friend and he mine. He could not have entrusted anyone else to that level of information. I saw him for this brief moment not through my own eyes but through the eyes of God himself.
When we hung up I replayed the conversation over in my mind. It was so different, so profound and so pure and ever enlightening. I laid in my bed and a cleansing feeling came over me. It felt like a purge. I remember the sensation like it was yesterday. I had never experienced it before. It was an instant exhaling relief; the surge of forgiveness. I slept so soundly that night and was so grateful for I had not had a good night’s rest since we broke up nearly a year ago.
He noticed something was different about me as soon as the next day. I was chipper, willing to talk to him and not rejecting his calls. I was laughing, giving advice; simply being my old self. He bought this to my attention and I really did not realize it until he mentioned it. I knew for sure that complete forgiveness had taken place.
We entered into family counseling for the next 10 months which ultimately converted into premarital counseling. The couple who helped us saw almost instantly that we were two people madly in love but just needed some spiritual guidance getting over our indifferences. We both began to truly heal.
I am forever grateful for this experience. My husband thought that he needed me but I needed him just as much. He saved me from spiraling out of emotional control and heading towards my own self destructive habits.
Forgiveness is a powerful elixir with the abilities to heal the mind, body and spirit. It has permeating affects and will extend beyond those directly involved. Children will be happier, families will be healthier and individuals can experience wholeness.