Monday, March 5, 2012

the most expensive gift i ever gave.

i've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately.
how we've got it wrong.

nato and i work with couples dealing with some hard issues. usually affairs are involved. every week, we have the privilege of telling someone that their marriage can make it. and not just make it...
it can be better than it ever has been.
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but one of the hardest things to explain to couples is how their concept of forgiveness is jacked.

it makes sense, right? when your spouse has an affair, it's insanely painful. they perhaps dated someone else while they were married to you. let that marinate for a moment. your spouse took someone to your favorite places. you were alone and tired and with your kids and they were out having fun spending time and money and affections on some other person.
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and it's hard to go there, but let's get in the nitty gritty so you can really feel me on this.
they got naked with another person.
not you. someone else. where for you this was a vulnerable experience, for them, it was a game.
they shared all these deeply intimate moments with someone else and they defiled what you thought was so sacred.
what i wrote should feel really gross and graphic. because it is.
they chose someone else, over you. they let you suffer and they watched. they chose themselves over you and your family.

and that cuts very deep. it's the deepest betrayal in marriage. it's hard to recover from that. and hey, most people don't. because of what i just explained...it's hard to mend such a deep cut. and some aren't willing to go there. i mean, honestly who says...sign me up for a hellish experience!
i guess the statistic is that if you've experienced infidelity in your marriage, you have a 10 percent chance of making it. christian or not.

so when people say they want to "make it work" or "try". i tell them the truth. this will be one of (if not the most) difficult and painful times of your life. but it won't always be like this. no way. the reward will outweigh the pain in so many ways. why else would i tell you to walk this road?

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i know the reward. so i tell them to forgive.

But I'm not ready to forgive. he doesn't deserve to be forgiven. i don't know if i'll ever be able to.


i remember being there. anger mixed with sadness, mixed with vengeance, mixed with deep hurt, and intermingled somewhere in there are feelings of love. strange feelings to have all at once.

and here's where the hard words come in. because i know i'm talking to me.
in the dark. crying for days. can't eat. can't sleep. desperate.

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i say tenderheartedly,

you are just as jacked up as your husband. your heart is so dark. you betray Jesus everyday and he still loves you. he doesn't wait for you to do enough to pay for your sins, so he can finally take you back. no. you enjoy grace and mercy and unmerited forgiveness. every day. actually, every hour.

and now, you get to be a mirror of the Gospel to your spouse. because what can they do to make up for defiling you in such a way? nothing actually. nothing would ever be good enough. would it?

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so instead of making them work for your forgiveness, you start with forgiveness. you make a decision. and you make a choice to absorb the cost of that forgiveness.
it's very costly, isn't it?
that's why it's a gift. like the gift Jesus gave to us when he absorbed our sins and said, no more. i'm paying for this. the cost is too great. i'll give my only son.
expensive and extravagant.


and so when we forgive, we mirror christ's forgiveness. we pay the tab. we stop making our spouse pick up the check. we say, no more. you can't pay enough for this.

this is the Gospel lived out in a tangible way. you recognize the darkness of your own heart and see the need for Jesus to save you. and that gift that God gave you, you give to others because you are just as terrible. and i'm not going to lie, it is difficult and hard and grievous to walk these steps in front of you. but you can because Jesus did.

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He shows us that forgiveness is the beginning.
not the end result of your spouse paying enough penance to you.
remember?
Jesus said, but God DEMONSTRATES his love for us in this; while we were STILL sinners, christ died for us. (romans 5:8)

he started with forgiveness.
no one asked for it. no one earned it. no one deserves it.

now you get the honor of modeling that.

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then that person i'm talking to generally hates me for like, 2 days, and then we work through it. but i understand. it should be a struggle. it's against everything in our nature. and what most people say. i mean, they make it about you...you'll feel better if you forgive. it's really for you! but it's not for you. it's a gift you give to others because of the gift given to you.

all i know is that this gift of forgiveness is where healing started for us. it was the beginning of something crazy amazing.

now this doesn't mean that you don't feel hurt anymore. it doesn't mean you're done processing. this is the beginning... this is a great start.

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it also doesn't mean that things work out perfectly. infidelity, like any sin, has consequences. sometimes marriages don't work. i'm not trying to paint a picture that life is perfect once you do forgive. this world is broken and every one's story is different.

this is just mine.
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if you need a resource on forgiveness, read chapter three of redemption by mike wilkerson. it's not a book on infidelity. it's a book on processing deep hurts. it's a pretty amazing read. i'm basically paraphrasing the genius of this chapter.
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these wonderful pictures were taken by our friend erica. like 5 months ago. whatever, point is, she's obviously amazing.

62 comments:

  1. Amen jami. i love when you share your heart on this subject.
    when my husband and i went through this and it came time for me to forgive or not. i wanted to be an example to my children but more than that i wanted to be a christian example. sure i had an out but i felt like i couldn't call myself a christian if i took it. so i didn't i forgave him. (and her)
    Forgiveness is a gift, and our marriage is better than it ever was. God can move mountains if you just let him.

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  2. This is beautiful.
    And heart wrenching.
    And TRUE.
    Someone very wise once said to me, "the Forgiver lives in you."
    Thank you for sharing from the deepest parts of your heart.
    Love from
    Greta

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  3. Thank you for being real. Thanks for writing real words and for sharing your wisdom. I am gleaning from the hope that you have and applying this hope of Jesus to my own life. So...thanks.

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  4. you mad amy eyes sting with tears. and my heart sting with awareness of my own short comings in this matter.

    thank you for that.

    xx

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  5. your awesomeness always amazes me and at the same time humbles me.

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  6. I love how raw you are with your emotions, our sin, and God's grace. I have learned a lot about His sufficient grace in the past 3 months. It's so easy to think we deserve it but others don't...as if we've done something so spectacular to get the prize. I love the way you said "he started with forgiveness. no one asked for it. no one earned it. no one deserves it." it's been a daily reminder to me to quit judging others and come to grips with my brokenness. when I see that, I recognize the gift I've been given, and the need to share it with them. it truly is for everyone.
    Thanks for this amazing post. As a college student who is very much single, I somehow find it relevant to other current issues. bravo. keep being real in your posts.

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  7. This is so beautifully written Jami. I'm sure your words of encouragement help change the lives and futures of families :)

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  8. I LOVE this. So much. I get frustrated when people try to make forgiveness all about the forgiver. Thank you for putting it so perfectly. Btw, I love Mike Wilkerson too.

    I am so blessed to see how God has turned your greatest trial and pain into your ministry. After all, He's in the business of redemption.

    Well done.

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  9. wow.
    this is beautiful and true. yesterday i may have been irritated by this. it's beautiful right now, because i only just this morning forgave my husband. like for real. i hear you!!
    we've been struggling with some wild circumstances, not an affair, but incredible distance and lack of communication...and i will spare you...
    but praise jesus. he softened hearts. we started fresh today. and the gospel is singing to our hearts, the truth of christ's redemption and the truth of HIS unfailing love and forgiveness.

    thank you, jami. you're wise and fancy. and i love you. press on.

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  10. wow- thanks for sharing those thoughts. I'm a pretty new follower (found you through Ashley at the handmade home) but I did go back and read all about the affair and your journey on healing and forgiveness. I'm married to my best friend and we've been married for almost 5 years. We are actually in China right now serving the father for a few years. All that to say - i've always told my sweet husband that if he ever cheated on me, we would. be. over!!! Done. Finished. Dead....you get my point. Not that I even think he would, but I wanted him to know that I wouldn't be around if that ever happened. Then I read your blog. Then I think about the cross. Then I think of the forgiveness the father shows me every, single, day. Then I realize i'm the one who's wrong. Now, I hope that never in a million years would this happen but now I realize my heart needs to be right nomatter what. Thanks.

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  11. jami,
    you always have such beautiful things to say. and the thing of it is, this appiles to every type of hurt, not just an affair. it is important to remember the sacrifice christ made for us....while we were still sinners. thanks for another great post.

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  12. I've been really struggling to forgive a family member who hurt me very deeply. I needed to hear this...

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  13. I just recently found your blog. I love it. I truly appreciate your writing style. Thank you for this!

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  14. This is a wonderful post. Thank you!

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  15. You displayed the power of the Gospel, of our Savior, in those words. Not trite or overly simplistic. Not "read this verse and you'll feel better." Read, gritty, brutal, grace-filled, redemption-focused, heart-annihilating truth. Jesus spoke through you today. Thank you.

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  16. thank you for sharing your heart. this was lovely. forgiveness is so hard, but it's something we all need to practice on a daily basis, if only because Christ has forgiven us.

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  17. It's a CHOICE. Darn right. It isn't easy, never is at first. But we CHOOSE to stay and forgive and repair. And the reward is great. Well written, Jami.

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  18. that really is the most beautiful thing. Beauty from ashes.

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  19. So well said. Love reading about yalls journey.

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  20. I needed to read this today. Thank you!

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  21. Hi! I am going through a similar situation and really need some Christian guidance. I have read your entire blog! I love it! I was wondering if you have an e-mail that you would share so that we could talk. I hope to hear from you! Thank you for being so honest!

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  22. awesome post! your family is so cute! love the pics :)

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  23. You are very brave to do these posts and I know it is very helpful to people, going through the same situations, to know they're not alone.

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  24. Jami, you're dead on. In a really hard-to-hear-but-even-harder-to-ignore kinda way. ;) Thanks for your brutal honesty. The way you've let God transform your darkness into light is pretty dang amazing to see. Blessings on you guys.

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  25. Jami, thank you. Thank you for pointing us, no matter where we are, no matter what the specific hurt, to the Cross and to Jesus. Thank you, I needed to be pointed there today.

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  26. Oh, Jami, Jami, I'm so thankful that the Lord led you to a point where you can share about these things. I cannot imagine the encouragement it is to people who are hurting in the ways you were hurt - it's even encouraging to those who aren't. Also, your fam is so adorbs, and knowing your story, I love seeing these pictures of a family Jesus held together. :) Great post!

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  27. Amazing words. And gorgeous photos.

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  28. my pastor just asked me to speak on this last weekend at church. i wish i would have read this first because you put it so much more eloquently, but you're totally dead on. i believe that this step of faith, forgiving when drew wasn't even sorry, was the step that saved my marriage. we feel justified in unforgiveness, but you're totally right, we aren't. no one is.

    love your words.

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  29. That's it! That's the gospel in a nutshell. I read your blog page through tears . . . it just makes me so sappy, er, I mean happy.

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  30. jami - you know how i feel about your story. because you know mine is the same. i don't know if i can ever thank you enough for putting your story out there. because it gave me so much hope. i thought my husband and i were making it through. and we were. and we are. by God's grace. but God knew that i was crying out to know that there was even just one other girl out there who had walked the road that i had been walking. and then i found your blog. keep doing what you're doing, girl. you and nato are to the praise of His glory - exactly what you were created for. so thankful that we are all part of the 10 percent (I hadn't heard that statistic until i read this today). That took my breath away. and caused me to praise Jesus for what He's done in your marriage and in mine. much love to you in Jesus.

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  31. Love these pictures. Love the raw truth. It hurts. Its hard to move on. But its possible. Love & appreciate YOU for sticking by your man Jami!Jewels in your crown, for sure.

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  32. Awesome post. thank you for sharing!

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  33. I know you wrote this because it's our six month forgiveness mark right? Yes, I know you did. ;)

    You're so wise, and awesome and adorbs balled into one. I love it. Love your family, love what you taught me to do. And, love that you can preach it to me and listen to gangster rap when you want to.

    But seriously.

    I needed this today. Sometimes it's time for a reminder when I get my triggers. Today being one of them.

    Love ya homie.

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  34. What an awesome post. I love that you've used your story to help others ... I pray that you will be so blessed because of that.

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  35. Everything you say is said so beautifully rooted in Christ. You should write a book. :-)

    Thank you.

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  36. you are a crazy talented writer jami nato. and how does nato make checkers and stripes look SO good!? who is the mastermind behind these outfits I ask, b/c they are outstanding. :) powerful stuff, and I always take so much away when I read... thanks for putting the time into your blog. b/c I only have 2 young'ens, and it's not easy to carve the time!

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  37. Good stuff. Thank you for speaking the truth, in love.

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  38. Beautiful. I am in a "thriving after infidelity and forgiveness" marriage. Still very tender. Still tugs of pain and remembrance as I read this post. Still love my husband and the "new man" and father he is more than I ever thought possible. So thankful to still be married to him. Forgiveness and unconditional love are so very powerful. Am thankful it was there for us both. I pray for you each time I read one of your posts on your journey. Forgiveness is so powerful, a choice, as you said. Praise the Lord the Father is big enough to heal all of the brokenness in our marriages.

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  39. i agree. you SHOULD write a book.

    and on a not so serious note, I was glancing over this post with hazel sitting next to me and she thought hux was a sheep.

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  40. Thank you, thank you for this. A huge amen to everything you said. My marriage didn't make it because my ex ultimately chose a lifestyle of unfaithfulness, but I've been in that valley of forgiveness and it changed me forever in the best possible way.

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  41. I LOVE M Wilkerson too. Oh man.

    thank you so much for your authenticity and vulnerability and for sharing your story and using it the way God would intend, it's a beautiful one. The messiest ones turn into the most beautiful if we allow God to use them/us! You are a faithful daughter so I can see why you have gotten to this point, you are a seeker, it is evident! And it is gorgeous.

    I have read, listened too and written many things about forgiveness and I would add yours to my "file". It's gotta be one of the best pieces I've seen on the topic. XO

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  42. Ok.

    This is my first time to your blog and I am HOOKED by this one post.

    You are amazing and beautiful, and I am in love you simply by reading the beauty of your heart through your writing.

    Thanks you for your transparency and honesty, and all that mushy stuff.

    xoxo

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  43. you are hilarious-5:30 am cracking up silently-my fabulous 21 daughter in SC told me to check this blog out-love it!! hub and i hve 6 grown indescribeable rock star daughters/sons-only 1/3 have crashed and burned! See when i read funny people like YOU-it rubs off!
    30 years into our marriage-30 years learning about forgiveness-I think I am getting the hang of forgiveness-a little dementia, in my case, actually ishelpful!
    keep writing girl!!!

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  44. Thank you thank you thank you. My counselor just suggested I read that chapter (my husband's going through a group at church that uses it) and I thought it was amazing. This post was such a good reminder of the points I needed to hear again! I love the idea of absorbing the pain so you don't pass it on. And it's so easy to forget our sin and what Christ has done for us when we've been hurt by others. You're right, we are no better! So thanks :)

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  45. Tears. Tears. A few goosebumps. And some more tears. K, I'm done.

    Your family is so beautiful. And I love how each member is uniquely special. Please {PLEASE} frame that one of Penelope standing in Nato's hand. Amazing.

    Love you.

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  46. I'm a lurker on your blog, but wanted you to know this is so, so beautiful.

    ...And now I'm convicted that Mike Wilkerson's book has been sitting on my shelf for 6 months and I have yet to open it!

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  47. beauty from ashes...
    thank you both for your willingness to transparent on this subject. i'm sure it's humbling and awkward and raw and embarrassing (?) but you are ministering to a Whole Bunch of hurting people.

    be encouraged X

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  48. yeah those came out so lovely.

    and jami, you never cease to amaze me. thanks for preaching God's good word.

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  49. this is one of the most beautiful things i have ever read.

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  50. wow Jami. Great post. Even if you haven't dealt with infidelity in your marriage, this is just such a great post on forgivness in general. I know I definitely need to be better about giving forgivness to my husband. This post spoke to me in such an awesome way! Thanks so much!
    Oh and yes those pics are amazing! Love Layne's bowtie!!

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  51. This is one of the most beautiful displays of mercy and forgiveness I've ever seen. And to think that Christ loves us like that a million times over. Whoa, blows my mind! Thanks for sharing your heart.

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  52. probably one of the most beautifully put messages on forgiveness I've ever read. thank you for your beautiful heart.

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  53. Jami. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Over and over again. Thank you. <3

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  54. I'm days behind, yet it was the right time for me to read this. I've done that forgiveness thing. Very, very similar to yours. Yet the past couple of days I've had such a bad attitude about it (not towards him-just in my own mind). And not even because of anything that has happened-everything really is good with us now. This post reminded me of WHY I chose to forgive. Because I've been forgiven much. Thanks Jami.

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  55. ..a friend recommended this blog...i am reading, and I read the section that says I am jacked up as much as him, and I am thrown into racking sobs. My husband has not had an affair, but at this moment, I have decided, if he chooses to, if he falls, I will forgive...I will remember how much of a gift I am receiving every day from Jesus. I could not read on because I am just in awe of this gift right now, but I thank you for the gift of that one sentence, of those pictures you posted. Maybe I will read on another day. Thank you.

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  56. your story affects so many people for good, jami. you have so much courage to share it, and that's one of my favorite things about you guys. it speaks volumes about where you find your identity.

    also, those photos are okay, i guess. :) just kidding, they're great because you're so pretty.

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  57. Wow! This is a powerful message. You are helping so many with your honest words.

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  58. John 8:32 " Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    I am ready to own my truth. Not hide behind it, for when it comes out of the darkness and into the light, satan holds no power. Today, I stand on it and own it, asking the Lord to shine HIS light through the broken pieces of our lives, to create a beautiful mosaic for HIS glory. ♥ THANK YOU for sharing your heartache with the world. It gave me the courage to share mine....
    ~Tonya from 4 little Fergusons

    http://4littlefergusons.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/shattered-hearts-broken-promises/

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  59. I love how you paired this story with such beautiful pictures of your family. Your family's strength is astounding! I'm so glad I found your blog.

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  60. Thank you so much for being so open about such a topic. It's become such a "hush hush" thing now a days- especially in the Christian community. But the truth is- things happen! So instead of brushing under a rug, let's talk about it! Why it happens, what to do when it happens, etc. Thank you so so so much.

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  61. Thank God for people who write what really happens. Honesty is so hard to come by in the blogworld, often times. We went through a similar experience, and only by the grace of God are we still married. It's comforting to know we aren't alone in our trying.

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