ThinkstockPhotos-186251428Today’s Marriage Monday comes out of our email inbox.  The question is forgiving after infidelity, but the answer applies to any relationship where forgiveness takes place.

Dear Jill,

My husband had an affair with my best friend. As we are allowing God to pick up the pieces, there is one thing I don’t know how to change: my hate for this woman that was my friend.

I have never hated anyone like I do her. Nor have I forgiven her. I know it is what God wants of me, I just don’t know how. I haven’t let her off my hook and honestly, I don’t want her off. I still feel she needs to be miserable. But the only person it is affecting is myself.

If you have some insight,I would love some help.

In God’s love,
Hurting

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Dear Hurting,

I’m so sorry for the pain this has caused you. I know your heart is so hurt from the betrayal of not only your husband but a woman you considered your best friend. The pain is deep.

The hard part about forgiveness is that it is not based upon feelings. You’ll never FEEL like forgiving. NEVER. You will have to choose to forgive. You will have to make a decision that goes against the feelings you have.

How can you make that decision? By understanding this is what life looks like on the other side of that decision:

1) Your heart will be uncluttered. Right now your heart is cluttered with hate. There are parts of your heart that are inaccessible to God, inaccessible to your husband, and if you’re a mom, inaccessible to your kids. When you choose to forgive, you free up your heart for God and those you love.

2) She may be off your hook, but she’s not off God’s hook. God is the judge. I Peter 2:23 tells us this about Jesus, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” Jesus entrusted himself to God who judges justly. As believers, you and I need to follow Jesus’ lead and entrust ourselves to God and his ability to judge justly. Don’t try to take a role that’s not yours.

3) You’re able to move forward. Right now you have one foot in the future and one foot in the past. You’ll never be able to fully heal until you can put both feet in the future.

This woman is broken and in need of a Lord and Savior just like we all are. Sometimes it’s helpful to move from “demonizing” this person in our head to “humanizing” them in our heart. She wouldn’t have had the affair if she didn’t have a God-shaped void in her life that she tried to fill with an illicit relationship. Can you have any compassion on her confusion, woundedness, and brokenness? This can be a helpful step in forgiveness.

Finally, it’s important to know that forgiveness isn’t always a once and done. You may need to forgive different “angles” as thoughts come up. I talked about this concept in the article I just wrote for Today’s Christian Woman Magazine. If you haven’t read that yet, you can read it here.

Your Jesus knows the hurt you’ve experienced. He too was betrayed. He was falsely accused. He was hurt by those in his inner circle. Trust Him with your pain. Hand it over to him so you can be free of the hate.

You have a lifetime of love, hope, and freedom ahead of you!

Praying,

Jill

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What about you? Do you have someone you need to forgive today? 

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