Had you asked me a year ago, I would have said it wasn’t possible…too much water under the bridge. Yet as I prepare to attend my ex-husband’s home going service, I am amazed that my soul is at rest.
In Stand Up for You I shared the very intimate story of the night I left my husband. It was one of those blogs I felt compelled to write – arguing with God the entire time I typed it. Although it had been 5 years since my divorce, there were still raw places I felt like weren’t ready to see the light of day.
And yet God had other plans. He used that story to encourage so many others who felt trapped in their own dysfunctional circumstances, desperate to find a way to break free. It is amazing to watch God take your mess and use it as inspiration for someone else’s masterpiece.
Today, as I sit for a few moments and reflect, it is the story after the story for which I am most grateful. For in sharing with others, it created a ripple effect in my own life I could not have imagined.
In the days that followed the posting of that story, I’d intermittently find myself feeling both fearful and free. Sitting on the swing one day there was a moment when my whole body just locked up – wondering what would happen if he read the post. Pattern behavior came back quickly as my mind began to calculate what I’d say to calm him down, how I’d react, and what to do next.
Then some days I’d just feel free. I was grateful to have it out in the open, no longer holding on to secrets that were weighing me down.
Several months after Stand Up for You appeared, mutual friends told me that he was in the hospital. Unfortunately cancer never let him rest. He battled it when we were married, and it continued to plague him for the rest of his life.
Whenever I was told he was in the hospital I politely listened, prayed a single sentence prayer and moved on about my business. I wasn’t angry anymore, but I was not dropping back into the pit again. No way. This was not my problem.
But this time it was different. I mean God would not let me rest. I finally relented and said Fine! If he’s still in the hospital on Sunday I’ll go after church. It was Wednesday and y’all I did not want to go. I prayed hard he would get out. But of course, he didn’t.
When I walked in the room he couldn’t believe it. Neither could I. With a big grin he said, I’m surprised to see you here. Me too, but obviously God has a plan so let’s make the most of this time. For the next 30 minutes I listened, we laughed, and somewhere in between came to a peaceful resting place. For real this time…
When I left, I sat in my car and cried. Not for him – somehow I knew that wasn’t goodbye. But, instead out of gratitude for the release of finally being free.
He had apologized so many times. I had mouthed the words I forgive you. But I think he knew in his heart that I really hadn’t. I had even said I’m sorry. Yet even I knew I felt like there was very little for which I had to apologize. After all, I was the wronged party. I was doing him a favor and freeing myself to move on by forgiving him.
But on that day I realized that’s not how real forgiveness works. You can’t lose the anger and still keep the resentment. For they are kindred spirits, and even when you can’t feel it or see it they always co-exist.
The sad truth is that up until that moment, there was some part of me that felt like him being sick was just punishment for how my son and I had been treated. I never said it out loud and it’s rather sickening to admit it, but as I sat there in the parking lot I could do nothing but beg God to forgive me for trying to sit in His seat.
When you’re hurting it’s so easy to judge. We use phrases like “God don’t like ugly” to mask our own ugly spirit. We judge ourselves better than others because our shortcomings are different, less public. And we silently withhold our forgiveness to prolong their suffering, as protest for what we have suffered.
But I’m here to tell you that there is a healing power in true forgiveness that is like no other. In the months after that initial visit to the hospital, I went back several more times to see him. Although I was no longer “in love”, I began to once again love, appreciate and give thanks for the good qualities of the person I had fallen in love with. It felt so freeing, and so right, to let go of resentment and genuinely wish the best for him. Mostly because I could just be myself – a person designed by God to offer love, care and concern to those that needed it most.
We are so good at being martyrs, for many of us have been hurt in unspeakable ways. But God has not called us to martyrs. We are to be saints, saved by grace and carried forward by his unlimited love. There is nothing that has happened to us that God does not know about. Justice is his, and only his. We were made for love.
I pray that as you are reading this, you quietly begin to let go of anything you may be secretly resenting. I pray your spirit is set free from the bondage of judging others. I pray that you allow the healing power of forgiveness to be a balm to your soul and the key that unlocks the extraordinary power of your love.
Be courageous. Be obedient. Be set free.
Loving on Me as I Love You. ❤