Anger, Forgiveness, Pain and suffering

When Forgiveness Comes

About two years ago, my kids and I were facing a very difficult situation…one over which we had absolutely no control.

I worried and fretted. I begged and pleaded. But most importantly, I prayed.

I had spent the spring reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. I was so convicted about the importance of prayer that I began praying a circle around my home. Literally. Every single day, I went outside and walked around my home. Every single day, I prayed a hedge of protection over my family. Every single day, I asked God to spare us from the unfair situation we were facing.

And guess what? We still had to walk through it. We still had to face the hurt and the pain. We still had to deal with the unfair and painful situation.

But God…

It might seem like God didn’t answer my prayer. In reality, He did something far greater. He changed me. Permanently. Completely.

I had no idea what God was doing. I didn’t understand why we had to walk through the pain. I didn’t understand why He failed to answer my prayer.

Now I understand. You see, it was in those daily prayer walks—prayer walks that happened every single day for months—that my heart was softened. It was in my crying out to God that forgiveness took hold of every ounce of my being. It was in my fear that God removed every the root of bitterness that was still clinging to the fertile soil in my heart. It was in my heart-wrenching pain that His peace that surpasses all understanding began to guard my heart and mind.

And today…

Today as I sit hear consoling my children, day by day wiping their tears, I, too, can freely mourn. I can weep with my children as they tell me about their sadness. I can embrace my children as they struggle to understand why their dad had to be taken so soon. I can laugh as they tell stories about the silly things he did. I can relive the good days—days that I had buried deep within my heart.

Forgiveness is so important. If I had not forgiven my ex-husband prior to this time, I would be struggling to help my children. My kids need to feel safe coming to me, telling me the hard things. They need to know I will openly embrace the good memories of their dad, not just cling to the bad.

Grief is hard enough. To complicate it by bitterness and unforgiveness makes it even more difficult.

As I look back over this journey, I realize forgiveness is not always easy to explain. Forgiveness is not reconciliation. Reconciliation can be a result of forgiveness, but not always. It doesn’t mean that we allow the other person to continue walking all over us. Sometimes it’s essential that we stand up for ourselves. And forgiveness certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t feel additional hurt and pain. Many times, the damage continues to build.

What I now realize is that after I spent months praying and walking, he no longer had control over me. It didn’t matter what he said or did, I was able to simply put it behind me and keep going, head held high. It meant that the new offenses didn’t add up because I chose not to let them bother me. It meant that I let things go rather than holding a grudge.

Yes, he still made me mad. But I was able to forgive seventy times seven. I was able to trust that every hurt and pain he caused me were in God’s hands, and it was His responsibility to take care of them. I was able to laugh at the stupidity of insults and arguments because I didn’t care about what he said or did to me; I only cared about what the Father thought of me.

And, today forgiveness allows me to mourn his death, to mourn the man who used to be my best friend, the man who is the father of my children, the man I once pledged to love until death do we part. And I guess a part of me still loved him.

I don’t know where you are on this journey. Many of you are facing the same pain of adultery and divorce that I have faced. Maybe not. Maybe it’s something totally unrelated. But we are all faced with the decision of whether to forgive at some point in our lives. Many times throughout our lives.

Will you let go of the anger and bitterness? Will you pray so long and so hard that God steps in and changes your heart? Will you trust God with the offense and let Him handle the offender?

If you do, you will find a freedom that is unmatched by anything this world has to offer. And, if you find that you have to say good-bye long before it’s time, you can grieve without regret.

12 thoughts on “When Forgiveness Comes”

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey. May God Bless and keep you as you walk with Him. Even though we have never met, knowing that I have a sister in Christ that I will meet one day, is a comfort.

    Thank you so much for sharing your pain and how God uses it for our good and His glory.


  2. I needed that. I have gotten a lot of wise counsel from you (without you really knowing it) while going through my own similar situation. Thank you for sharing and being so open.

  3. Wow, Dena! What a powerful piece. So much understanding for me because I can relate in so many ways to this. Finally I understand why, even though I believe God took me through the forgiveness state, I still get angry at times. Now I know it is ok for me to feel this way, as long as I don’t allow it to control my emotions. Oh, how I can give God the glory…for His peace that surpasses all understanding! May God continue to undertake for you as you minister in this beautiful and powerful manner!

  4. Dena,

    Thank you for your honesty and wisdom. I can totally relate to the built up offenses, thank you for your reminder to forgive seventy times seven.

  5. Amen Dena. It was a few years before my ex husband died, that the Lord told me to call him to come visit us. I payed for his plane fare, and then everything else when he arrived. He stayed with us for a week, I gave him my room as I slept on the living room floor. My son needed him and I, now looking back, needed to say goodbye. Had I not obeyed, I never would have known how deeply entrenched in addiction he was. I never could have cared for him as I did and I would never had been able to pray for him with the deep groanings that filled me with God’s love. My son spent time with him, but my son realized that he could no longer offer himself as a father. It was important for us to see and experience because it was the basis of understanding much. Its also the remembrance of his lifestyle for my son to look at presently as he now is following in his father’s footsteps in the world of drug addiction. I know by looking back at this, that God has our living in control, though it is a “rerun” for me, I will trust Him to heal and restore.

  6. Dena,
    My heart still hurts for you and your children and I am still praying that the everlasting arms of Jesus will continue to strengthen all of you and keep you wrapped in His peace and comfort.

    Thank you so much for caring for us, even in the midst of your grief, to share this article on forgiveness. It is a place I need to come to in my own heart.

    After decades of marriage, I discovered my husband’s use of gay porn and related issues, and only after my discovery of it and me confronting him did he admit it. However, I see no real effort on his part to seek help.

    I have begun seeing a counselor myself and find that every emotion, soul-crushing pain and devastation I experience are being confirmed through godly counsel.

    I, like you, feel that God has released me to seek a divorce. It will take a very long time for me to heal, but I believe in faith that one day I will once again find the joy and peace that only my Heavenly Father can give.

    Thank you for being such a blessing to me as we all as sisters-in-Christ support each other on our own journeys through life.

    God bless…….

  7. So thankful to have found your blog! I have walked this same path and I feel I have forgiven, let go of resentments and moved from that really painful place. Instead, I find myself still longing for my family to be whole again. I do not know what the future holds but I do know God has been there taking care of my children and I every single step of the way. He has blessed me in unimaginable ways and for that I am grateful. For it was in those times I saw His love for me, believed His promises and witnessed the fact that I could trust Him even if I could trust no one else.

  8. Dena,
    This has helped me so much. I’m a single parent of 3. My two oldest children’s father and I divorced when they were 3 and 5. 10 years later he was an officer killed in the line of duty. The emotions and thoughts u expressed I could really relate to and taking care of the kids being both mother and father. They were a sophomore and junior in high school at the time of his death. I also work full time feeling like I don’t do enough but doing everything I can! Your outlook of the change of seasons is also how I view them. Waiting on each one but enjoying them too! I couldn’t stop reading your blog though i did start from most recent and went backward do to how it came up From the story of Jacob and it was a great revalation Of his faith becoming his own and the closeness u get with the our Heavenly Father through our trials. Thank u for sharing and I will continue with your blog.

  9. I’ve heard that God will often take someone before they spiral so far into sin they can’t get back. Maybe that’s what happened with your ex. Condolences to you and your children.

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