Embracing Forgiveness After Betrayal - A Friend's Story
In my recent article, “3 Reasons Why Your Story Matters” (click the link HERE to read it), I wrote about the power of sharing our stories. When we declare how God is moving in the midst of the storms we face, we defeat the enemy’s plan to discourage and defeat us. We each have a story and it matters!
I’ve invited a dear friend to share her story in this space. Below her words describe how she experienced God’s embrace through the journey of forgiving after betrayal. Her brave perspective will inspire you! Jaime
My friends story:
In a recent worship service, I stood singing the words; “All my life you have been faithful, And all my life you have been so so good. With every breath that I am able, I’m gonna sing of the goodness of God.” With a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes I said, “Yep, Jesus. I will,” Don’t get me wrong, life has been a far cry from perfect but Jesus has been so good.
Without a doubt the hardest and hottest fire I’ve endured came about 4 years ago. My husband and I were married for 11 years at the time. We had four beautiful children and life was busy as we served in a lead pastor role of a young church. It was a trying time for us both with many demands and great stress on our lives. During this season the enemy preyed on my husband and gained a foothold. In the end, my husband fell into an adulterous affair and our whole world came to a crashing halt.
At the risk of sounding cliche, there really aren’t words to describe those moments. I pray you never experience it. I felt all the emotions and yet none of them. A strange numbness came over my mind and heart. The thawing came without warning as I processed and tried to pick up some measure of the pieces shattered around me.
The days that followed also are difficult to describe. The Bible tells us that God is “near to the brokenhearted” and it’s so true. I remember being enveloped in the arms of Jesus’ protective and strong embrace. Sometimes that came through the arms of a girlfriend that stopped in to bring a meal or check on me. It also came in the stillness of my bedroom, alone with my thoughts. The tangible presence and sustaining power of Jesus is real.
A swirl of questions bombarded my mind. Should I stay? Should I go? Was there hope for a restored relationship? What about the kids? How do I care for their young hearts and minds? My dearest friend and mentor was wise to direct me back to the Father, to seek out His ways. So I did, and again I was embraced.
My journey of healing started on my face on some tan carpet in my bedroom. I remember the moment of encounter with the Holy Spirit. I was journaling and praying and an old hymn popped into my head. “O victory in Jesus.” I grabbed an old hymnal to find the lyrics. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I read the first verse, but the floodgates of heaven opened when I poured over the second:
“I heard about His healing, of His cleansing power revealing, how He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see. And then I cried, ‘Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit,’ And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory.”
It was in that moment my life made a turn around. By simple faith I believed. I believed that Jesus was bringing my healing, my victory, my husband’s cleansing and what was “lame” in him would be healed in Jesus’ name. Embraced. I didn’t know how Jesus would do it, I just knew He would.
It wasn’t easy, but it was settled. I was still hurting, but I made up my mind that I would forgive, because Jesus had lavishly forgiven me.
Sometimes we hold on to unforgiveness thinking it will do us good. But the reality is it just keeps us in bondage. Releasing offense into the hands of a trustworthy God who says, “Vengeance is mine” and “I desire mercy and not sacrifice,” brings true freedom. It allows God to be our Defender. It also acknowledges that He alone is able to bring the right amount of discipline and mercy to see a life truly transformed.
I don’t know your story. Chances are if you’re breathing oxygen, you’ve dealt with the pain of being forgotten, rejected, forsaken, or used at some point in your life. The beautiful news is that the pain of this world has no authority over us if we’re in Christ! Jesus came to show us a better way.
Only when we grasp the enormity of Christ’s forgiveness towards us are we prepared to extend forgiveness towards others.
“But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Does that thrill you the way it does me? I mean who does that? Loves and forgives before the “mess” is tidy and the wrongs righted? Jesus does!
I’ve had the opportunity of hearing of others whose marriages are under attack. May I share an observation with you that I believe will alert us to the enemy’s schemes?
Consider with me first, John 8:2-12. The Scribes and Pharisees (seeking a way to trap Jesus) brought a woman to the temple who’d been caught in the act of adultery. Reminding Jesus of what the Law commanded, they ask Him, “But what do you say?” Rather than answering quickly, Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger. Pestered further by them, He stood and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” No way could this woman have anticipated what happened next! Then, “Those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”
That alone would have been a profound ending… to be spared of life. But Jesus is so much sweeter than that! “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’”
Ok, are you ready for my observation? Forgiveness takes courage. Pointing angry accusing fingers, that’s easy. Picking a side, that’s easy too. But taking a good look in the mirror and answering Christ’s stone-throwing requirement: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at [her] first,” that’s HARD. And harder still is the courage to not pick up bitterness and condemnation in the wake of seeing a person get set free from their bondage! Courage to say, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
Forgiveness doesn’t grant the offender permission to keep on sinning. It just embraces them with the assurance that condemnation is not their portion.
Here lies the scheme, while God is freeing one person, satan seeks to enslave the other to the bondage of unforgiveness and condemnation. Don’t give him this foothold! Be alert to his scheme and refuse to cooperate!
I’m pleased to say that God has written a beautiful redemption story for us. In our case, Jesus had the final victory! I can testify that beauty can come from ashes, joy from mourning, and a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. After several months of healthy, healing boundaries and some counseling, we rejoined in a new covenant, recommitted to one another with no condemnation and a call to “go and sin no more.” I thank God for the good that has come from this fire and the ways He’s refined and delivered us into the joy-filled marriage we now experience. God is so so good.
“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Isaiah 46: 3-4
I’m so grateful my friend courageously shared her story here with us. I offered many tear filled prayers for this precious family as the battle raged for their marriage. How beautiful it is to see the generous ways God has healed and restored them. Are you waiting for beauty to rise from the ashes of pain or betrayal? Did the words “Forgiveness takes courage” resonate with you? Please reach out, I’d love to pray with you too!
May you know the strength and warmth of HIS embrace today,