Does Forgiveness Equal Immediate Relief?
The other day my two youngest angels got into a little scuffle. I’m not exactly sure how it all went down because I was not an actual witness to the demise of their kindness towards one another but apparently there were words spoken, unkind words, which led to one of them hitting the other one. As I emerged from my sanctuary (the laundry room) my youngest daughter walked right up to me, hand on hip, and proudly declared that “Josh was naughty because he hit me.” I had heard enough of the conversation between these two and their father to know that the situation had been addressed, dealt with, and apologizes had been spoken so I firmly said to her, “ Josh already said he was sorry and when someone says they’re sorry, we don’t talk about it anymore.” My husband chuckled as I uttered those famous mom words and muttered under his breath, “Yeah, momma knows all about that.” I immediately shot him the “look” as my heart was slowly acknowledging the fact that the Holy Spirit was looking an awful lot like my husband in that moment.
In my marriage I have been all too guilty of bringing up past wrongs repeatedly in the heat of a discussion or argument. I think many women suffer from this phenomenon of borderline forgiveness. We say we forgive our husbands for something that was truly hurtful and offensive and in our hearts we sincerely want to be able to totally forgive that wrong but there is just something that won’t allow us to completely let go of it; at least for a while. Ryan and I are working through a series about forgiveness, and I really connected with what one woman wrote about after she found out her husband had an affair. She forgave him – at least she said she had and she wanted to, but as the issue of his affair resurfaced repeatedly in the coming months of their reconciliation they both began to doubt whether her forgiveness had been sincere and heart felt. Her husband reasoned that surely she couldn’t have forgiven him when she felt the need to continuously hurt him with what he had done. And she couldn’t believe that he wouldn’t allow her to work through the pain of what he had done. She needed to be able to talk it through to reach her forgiveness but he, being a man, wanted to put it in the “finished” box in his head and forget it ever happened.
What they concluded after studying the Bible, praying, and seeking counseling in this area was that true forgiveness does take time; it is not immediate. You choose to forgive but it can takes months or even years for the heart to truly get over it and stop rehashing it repeatedly, and the one who has been forgiven needs to be able to extend grace to the forgiver and allow the scab to be picked occasionally so that the wound can really heal with time. This concept works for me; as a woman especially. I can see where wrongs that truly stung in the beginning of my relationship have definitely become very small smudges as time progresses. What at one time seemed like an insurmountable mountain for me to “get over” has been replaced with a feeling of peace as time and God’s grace provides a healing balm to some once extremely sensitive and hurtful topics. So while it’s true that when forgiveness has been extended we should try not to talk about it anymore, it may be equally as true that there may need to be some revisiting of the events and circumstances for a woman (and I’m sure even some men) to truly wrap their minds around it all and to be able to come to a place of complete forgiveness. Sorry guys, but in this case, God’s forgiveness can begin a good work in a marriage but you need to hold on as He is faithful to complete his good work in your wives’ lives.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6
Just keep livin!!