I have never received an apology from my ex for all the ways he has mistreated me. The closest thing to an apology was him saying “if I hurt you, I’m sorry.”
For quite some time, I struggled with forgiving him for making things difficult on me after I placed him on child support. I struggled to let go of the pain that he caused me when he would use our kids against me in an attempt to get back at me. Or the numerous times he tried to humiliate me because of his vindictiveness towards me.
It’s hard to forgive someone who doesn’t understand that he has wronged you and doesn’t make an attempt to right his wrongs. Even more, having to co-parent with that person while dealing with the pain that they’ve caused you is humiliating.
I realized long ago that I wouldn’t get an apology from him. He didn’t seem to know that what he did was wrong and his high sense of self-regard stops him from seeing his actions correctly.
So I stopped longing for closure. I realized that retaliation would only hurt our children and wouldn’t help me heal. Instead, I brought my pain, my brokenness, my anger, and my bitterness to the foot of Jesus and asked Him to take them away.
I’d be lying if I said it’s all gone. It’s hard to heal an open wound.
But God has done some serious surgery on my heart and helped me understand why it’s important to forgive those who hurt us, no matter what they do or how often they do it.
The Christian stance on forgiveness is very simple: “forgive others as you have been forgiven”. “Love your enemy as yourself”.
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”Matthew 18:21-22
It is clear that God expects us to love those who do us wrong and to forgive unconditionally. And that is a hard pill to swallow. It’s hard to do this on our own but with God’s help, He can heal the wounds others leave and repair the damage they refuse to acknowledge.
We are all sinners who have fallen short of God’s glory. Daily we lie, cheat, steal and commit other sins that we don’t even know about. When we sin, we are sinning against a Holy God who doesn’t like sin. God knew that we couldn’t save ourselves so He sent His Son to die in our place so we can be made right with Him.
When Jesus died on the cross, He died for those who knew Him, those who cursed Him, those who spat on Him, and even those who didn’t know Him. He put aside His righteousness so that He could take on our unrighteousness and set us free from sin.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells a parable of a king who forgives his servant a large debt. But when the servant went out and found his fellow servant who owed him less than he had been forgiven, he demanded to be paid and even threw that man in prison for that small debt.
When the King heard about what that forgiven servant had done, He was upset with him and ordered that He be jailed until he could repay what he owed because he failed to extend the forgiveness he had received.
God has forgiven us large debts that we couldn’t have paid on our own. In the same way, He expects us to forgive those who wrong us because the wrong done to us can never compare to the wrong we have done Him.
When we are wronged, we end up feeling sorry for ourselves for being treated like we were, then we build up resentment and anger towards the other person for what they did, and ultimately, this anger and resentment can lead us to do harm to the other person or harm ourselves.
Forgiving allows us to heal from the pain caused. It breaks the pattern and stops us from building bitterness and resentment that may lead to negative results.
I’m not saying that when you forgive suddenly the feelings of self-pity, bitterness, and anger go away. These may take time. But when we make a decision to forgive others, we are saying that we will not act on any of the negative feelings we may have towards the other person.
Studies also show that forgiving helps improve our health. Unforgiveness builds resentment and anger that can affect us physically and lead to heart conditions, depression, and stress. However, when we choose to forgive, we release the bitterness and resentment making way for joy and peace to take over our hearts.
Sometimes we may hesitate to forgive others because we don’t want them to think that we’re okay with their behavior. We fear that forgiving them will make them think we’re weak and gullible. However, that’s not true.
Forgiving doesn’t mean you are weak and it doesn’t mean you’re okay with the person’s behavior towards you. If you find that the other person keeps repeating the same offense, it may be a good idea to set boundaries that will help them know that their behavior is not acceptable and won’t be tolerated.
God doesn’t expect us to be doormats for people to walk on as they please. He commands each one of us to love one another.
We live in a society that praises revenge. We say, “karma will get them” in an attempt to assuage us that the person will get what they deserve for hurting us. We watch videos of people getting “instant karma” and feel assured that the universe is doing its job.
The truth is that revenge won’t heal your wounds. It won’t give you back what you lost and may actually lead to a worse outcome for you if you aren’t careful.
Instead of focusing on getting the person back, forgive and move on.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”Romans 12:19
If there is one thing that you don’t want to do, it’s to rob God of His vengeance in your situation. He knows what is going on. He sees the pain you have been caused and He will avenge you if you put your trust in Him and refuse to retaliate against the other person.
You don’t know what God is doing in their life. You don’t know how He could use this situation to show Himself in their life. So if you are a Christian, trust God with the situation and know that He has things under control.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”Matthew 11:28-29
God promises us that if we bring our burdens to Him, He will give us rest. So instead of revenging, take your pain to God.
It’s so easy to fall into self-pity when we’ve been wronged. We start to feel sorry for ourselves that this person treated us badly. We wonder why they would do that when we haven’t wronged them.
I was stuck in this place for a while.
I couldn’t understand why my ex kept hurting me when I hadn’t done anything to him.
I was acting like a victim.
But I realized that I also said things to him that probably offended him. Even though I accept responsibility for my actions, it doesn’t make what he has done or keeps on doing okay.
For me to stop feeling sorry for myself, I had to come face to face with the fact that I wasn’t really a saint either. No, I don’t deserve what has happened to me but I have also wronged others and not apologized.
I’m not the saint I think I am.
There’s no point in acting with God because everything is uncovered to Him. He knows the thoughts you think and what’s in your heart so get honest with Him. Let Him know how you feel. Let Him know how this person hurt you.
I found refuge when I got on my knees and cried out to God. I poured out my anger, bitterness, pain, and sorrow and allowed Him to take it away.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”Matthew 18:35
It’s one thing to say you forgive someone and it’s another thing to actually forgive them. True forgiveness comes from the heart.
You have to get honest with yourself and grieve what you lost when that person hurt you. Whether it was your health, your peace, your money, your time, your confidence, or something more precious. You have to grieve that which you lost in order to move forward.
“Heart forgiveness involves grieving what was lost – identifying it and asking God to help us accept the loss and move on”- Good Samaritan Ministries
Understand that there is nothing this person will ever do that will bring back what they stole. It’s gone.
So instead of staying in a place of bitterness, seek therapy if you need it and find it in your heart to forgive them.
If the other party continues to hurt you and you have no way of separating yourself from them, whether you’re co-parenting with them or maybe it’s a situation you cannot leave, create boundaries.
Boundaries tell others how to treat us and what behavior is acceptable. This could include not sharing information you don’t want the other person to know, limiting the access that person has to you, and saying no in situations where you’re not comfortable.
Setting boundaries may help lessen the impact the other party has on you which makes it easy to heal from the pain they’ve caused you in the past.
I realized that even after I had confessed to God and told Him that I wanted to forgive my ex, I still had these negative thoughts about my ex.
I was acting like Jonah when God sent him to Nineveh to preach the gospel.
At first, Jonah didn’t want to go there because He knew that God was merciful and if the people of Nineveh repented, He would forgive them.
So begrudgingly, he went to Nineveh and preached the gospel and people accepted the message and repented.
He didn’t like that at all.
He wanted God to destroy them and he cried to God and said:
“Isn’t this what I said, Lord when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”Jonah 4:2-3
Jonah didn’t like that God forgave the people of Nineveh but God tried to remind him of the innocent children and people that would die. Despite this knowledge, Jonah showed more care for a dying plant than he did the people of Nineveh.
In my case, when my ex hurt me, I didn’t want him in my life. I wanted him far away from me and my children. I didn’t want God to forgive him, I wanted him to feel the pain he caused me.
This was until I realized that maybe God is working in his life as well. Also, what about my children? Am I okay with them losing their father because I was resentful towards him? They’re innocent in all this. Why should they be hurt because I don’t want to forgive?
My goal now when the negative thoughts arise is to remind myself that I have forgiven this man and that he doesn’t owe me anything. It also helps to remember the promises that God has made to heal our hearts when we bring our pain to Him. It may not happen immediately, but eventually, we will see how He is working all things for our good.
It may be that the person who hurt you caused a lot of trauma in your life. In that instance, it may be beneficial to seek counsel and get help through the situation.
A therapy session can help unearth some of the deep-seated issues that may be stopping you from forgiving and moving on so, take advantage of those resources so you can heal.
If you are stuck in a cycle of unforgiveness, I hope the words I shared with you help you to move away from that place of bitterness and pain. It’s not a good place to be in.
God is the only One that can heal the hurt others caused so turn to Him and allow Him to mend your brokenness.
May 14, 2022
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