Because I never knew how to offer forgiveness to others, I had to learn. The experience with my husband was a perfect opportunity to teach me. It caused me to examine my choices. I could forgive him, save my marriage, and offer him the grace that God gave me through His Son’s death, or I could divorce him, hold on to the pain and become even angrier and more resentful. Unlike in the past, this time, I chose to follow Jesus’ example and offer forgiveness. For awhile, I struggled daily with not gossiping to others about my perception of the night in October 2008. I felt entitled to compassion and sympathy. I had to pray daily for God to help me forgive my husband. At the time, I had no idea how forgiveness would later bless me and my children as well as my husband. I believe it was choosing to forgive that eventually led my husband to go to church and begin a relationship with Christ.
A nun once taught me her understanding of the concept of forgiveness. She said, “If you can remember what it was that you were supposed to forgive, you haven’t forgiven the person yet.” Perhaps this is partially true. Through my recent experience with my husband, I have learned that even after you have let go of a hurt and forgiven the person, the memory remains, but the pain goes away. In my case, when I talk about the night of October 2008 today, it’s as if I am describing something which happened to someone else. I remember the event in detail, but I am not ashamed, hurt or angry anymore. To my surprise, I am grateful for the lessons God taught me through the experience. The bible helps me to remember that I am a sinner who just three years ago loved to put others down in conversation. I also try to pray for understanding as to what someone else may be going through. This keeps me humble and continually softens my heart towards others who hurt me. And I pray for grace. For me, forgiveness is not just a one prayer occurrence, but a process. It takes time to let God graciously heal the heart. I have been blessed in learning to forgive. God has shown me great mercy and has healed my heart as He promised.