Updated: Jun 13, 2018
For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing. ~ Matthew 6: 14-15
It was an awkward moment when I crossed paths with my ex-husband; it was our first encounter since our divorce five years earlier. We exchanged pleasantries and our superficial conversation lasted only a few minutes. While I tried to appear nonchalant, I was so rattled I left the store without shopping.
I sat in my car processing my emotions. While the chance meeting did catch me off guard, I was more surprised I didn’t feel intense heartache. I did feel sad, not for myself, but for him and the choices he was making. I realized I was no longer angry. I didn’t condone his decisions or actions, but I had forgiven him. And I even told the Lord that if I ever saw him again, I’d tell him.
A couple of months later, I saw my ex-husband at the hospital where he worked. We chatted about the weather and mutual friends. He was telling me about a friend when the Holy Spirit spoke to me: SAY THE WORDS. I knew what I was supposed to say, but I said nothing. My heart began to beat rapidly. A second time, SAY THE WORDS. My heart pounded even harder, the pressure in my chest was so intense I felt the air pushed out of my lungs.
I tuned out the conversation and reasoned with the Lord. Yes, I know I said I had forgiven him, but did he really deserve my forgiveness? After all, he had never apologized for breaking my heart, nor had he asked me to forgive him.
I knew I had a choice: would I be obedient and speak, or would I remain silent?
I interrupted my ex-husband and blurted out that I had forgiven him. As the words left my mouth, I felt relief and a sweet peace. My ex said nothing; he looked stunned and tears had pooled in his eyes. In a soft voice he told me I had no idea what my words - my forgiveness - meant to him. He visibly exhaled. Moments later our conversation was interrupted; we exchanged farewells, and even a quick hug. As I walked away, I knew the forgiveness was for my benefit, not his.
Honestly, saying the words “I forgive you” was the easiest part of forgiving him. Bitterness had taken root in my life. I had to learn to take negative thoughts captive. I had to cease keeping score of his wrongdoings. I had to stop voicing his shortcomings. And, I had to stop playing the he-done-me-wrong card.
Forgiveness isn’t always easy or instant, but is a choice. Forgiveness renders anger powerless and brings healing to a wounded heart. The Lord commands me to forgive others, and to forgive repeatedly. As a follower of Christ, I have received God’s grace and mercy. I am forgiven for my past, present and future sins.
I choose to forgive because I am forgiven.