Wednesday, September 19, 2012

forgiving. the backwards way.

on saturday we celebrate like 6 or 7 years of marriage. i'm not sure the exact number because i don't keep track of things that involve mathematics (counting) or calendars.

what i'm trying to say is that we're still married when we should by all accounts be divorced. really we should. i like to exaggerate on a lot of things, but not this. our marriage was irreversibly damaged and broken in most people's eyes. and sometimes mine.

and if it weren't for the word forgiveness, it would be over.

i remember thinking that i knew what forgiveness was. someone hurts you and then they say i'm sorry, and then you say you forgive them and then it's over. kind of. but kind of not.

but forgiveness is not that.


what if i told you that true forgiveness actually bypasses the offender out of the deal and goes straight before God? it's not so much about the other person as about a mirror being shown into the deep, dark corners of your heart. this person is just an avenue for sanctification. a way to see God more clearly.
so it is about you and your heart. that forgiveness is not an act of you conjuring up some sort of goodness to form the words i forgive you, but that it is an act of God. it takes supernatural strength to give the kind of forgiveness that God asks us to give to each other.

ephesians 4:32 says, 
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

 well how did Christ forgive us?

he forgave us before we even asked.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. romans 5:8

i think a lot of us want there to be a process before we forgive. you know, like you come to a point of healing where you feel like you can forgive someone. you process it through and then, boom, magically you get there and you can forgive someone. or maybe you're one of the lucky ones--someone comes to you and asks for forgiveness. 

the problem is, generally, if you wait to forgive someone until you're "ready" or for the offender to come ask you to forgive them, chances are, you'll wait forever.  and so that time to heal or waiting leaves space for bitterness. it actually turns into a time to feed an angry fire and develop hatred for one another. ephesians 4:31 says, Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice...right before it begins talking about forgiveness.
 in essence saying, these are fruits of unforgiveness. 

do you see that in your life?
are you talking crap about people behind their backs in anger and malice? do you feel intense anger towards certain people? are you wanting someone to pay for what they did to you? 
these are arrows pointing to unforgiveness as well as an opportunity to repent.

so we see that the concept of forgiving as an end point is backwards. when we look at the way Christ modeled forgiveness, it is apparent that forgiveness is the first step. regardless of if the other persons feels sorry about it or even asks you for forgiveness. 

while we were still sinning! he died for us. while we were ENEMIES! he died for us. while we deserved the opposite of grace and mercy! He died for us.

forgiving like this is a sacrifice. and it will mean dying to your self and your vengeance in order to point to something greater than yourself. it doesn't mean there's not a process afterwards. there is. it doesn't mean all your hurt is gone. and it certainly doesn't mean you're saying that whatever even occurred never happened. 

it's just the starting point. and that's all you need right now in this moment. start in obedience and submit that God knows what He's talking about.

when we recognize that we don't deserve forgiveness from God, we are able to extend grace to others as freely as Christ gives it to us. and what that turns into is a gospel-centered life. a life that models the Gospel. and did you know that that is your main goal in life? to Glorify christ? that's your job. forgiveness is one of the most tangible ways in which we acknowledge our own need for a savior and extend this supernatural grace to those who have hurt us. this is love. 

not that that we loved God, but that He loved us FIRST.

does this not rock your entire world? it has shaped me greatly in the last 4 years after the affair. just straight up, radically changed me.

forgiveness was the avenue in which i stopped seeing the Gospel as an entry point into Christianity and instead saw it as my everything. the only thing. not the just the starting point. but the middle and the end. the every second of my day. i needed Jesus' death on the cross more than i needed anything ever. 

and it redeemed my marriage.

32 comments:

  1. Boy! Does this speak right to my heart! Thank you :)

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  2. Forgiveness is so very difficult. Especially when you've been deeply betrayed by someone you completely trusted to be faithful to you. I'd love to hear your thoughts/experience on the tust thing.... that's the one that gets me.

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  3. So beautiful and so, so right on. Blessings to you, Sister!! :)

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  4. Needed this encouragement tonight. I truly believe these words but living them every day through the hurt is so hard. 60% of the time I feel ok in this. The rest of the time I'm wrestling with my own sinful heart to let go of the hurt that comes after the forgiveness. Thanks for continuing to write on this topic and for being so honest.

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  5. If you only knew how much your words are getting me through a difficult (similar) season in my life...
    Thank you for being honest and transparent..because sometimes I feel alone in this..
    :)

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  6. I have said this before...but you are so gifted in "preaching" these words. We are doing a small group study and on forgiveness and anger. I have dealt with this all too often in my short life. You really have challenged me in previous posts on dealing with this. The very concept of forgiving b/c Christ forgave us. I love what you said about our sanctification. I could have never put it so eloquently and poignant. Thank you for this! And congrats on another year of marriage.

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  7. Love how God works things...my husband and I have been struggling lately with our marriage (about to celebrate 3 years & we have a 25, 10 month old, & one due in Jan!). Today we met with a Pastor we loved and after sharing our struggles he simply said, "Choose forgiveness". How apropos is your post for where I am at! Thanks for sharing the word, sister. Blessings!

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  8. How apropos is your post for me! My husband & I just had marital counseling today because we have been going through a rough patch (about to celebrate 3 years & we have a 25, 9 month old & baby due early Jan!). After hearing the main portion of our struggle his word for us was, "Choose forgiveness". Thanks for sharing the word, sister. Blessings!

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  9. We just talked about forgiveness last night at our gc. Such good, important words. Thank you for your testimony.

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  10. This is such a powerful post!! Thank you for sharing your heart & God's Word!

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  11. This is something that I needed to hear in SUCH a big way. Thank you for your transparency. Thank you for your words of wisdom and for sharing your own experiences. Your testimony is speaking to my heart tonight! I have been born and raised in the church and the scriptures... but sometimes they just shake you and wake you up and this post is one of those moments for me. You have blessed my marriage tonight. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

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  12. +1 on Google from me. Thank you, I loved reading this post. This is how forgiveness is supposed to be.

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  13. this is absolutely amazing. thank you for sharing jami! you are so right, forgiveness is something before God and us, and something we must do first. Too bad I learned this the hard way, but i'm praising God that i'm at least beginning to learn it:) your words are precious, thank you. love Katie

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  14. thanks for this today, friend. as always, i love you for pointing me to Christ - first and foremost. love your heart and your cute self too.

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  15. Ha! I'm like you--I always have to do math to remember when we got married. Oy!
    I've been struggling in this area for a while lately--selfishly clinging to my anger at my sister for doing some really dumb things. Not to me, but to herself and others. I'm trying to see her like Jesus does, praying for the grace to love her enough. It's not an easy thing at all.

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  16. thank you so, so much for posting this. My devotional this morning was about forgiveness and then your blog also spoke to me about it. I am harboring bitter thoughts and now I know God is telling me to get rid of them. Thank you!

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  17. You are such an inspiration, thank you for your heart and your transparency. I simply cannot wait to meet you at influence. I think by allowing God to speak through you and your beautiful gift of writing you change lives.

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  18. This is just...beautiful. I was in a conversation with a friend divorcing and it's everything I said but so much better. I've forwarded this to her. Thank you for writing it.

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  19. Wow - I can't believe there are no comments. I've been trying to forgive this backwards way but what if your husband is not as repentant and continues in the affair...how long do you "wait"? is 7 months too long? I think sooooo....sad very sad here.

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  20. as usual, you knock me out with a one-two punch! thanks for the reminder that forgiveness is hard. i have friends going thru what you went thru, and it's so hard not to hate the guys. like seriously hate them. and, i have a dad who did the same thing, and even though i think i've forgiven him, i don't think i have.

    seriously, if you have a 12 step program on hearing your holy spirit, can you sell it to me?

    thanks for being God's megaphone. i'm sure you know how many people's lives you've touched, but do you know many of us hope we can even be 1/10th as forgiving as you are? i do.

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  21. I love your posts, but I think this is my favorite! I needed to hear this and continue hearing it every. single. day. Thanks!

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  22. Congratulations Jami, and YES! i know i've told you before but my husband and i walked a similar path it was long before i had a blog so i don't really talk about it, and maybe i'm a little bit of a coward. Maybe someday God will give me that push.

    we celebrated 14 years of marriage on wednesday, when from a worldly perspective i probably should have been remembering my 7th year as a divorcee. I'm thankful everyday that i'm not. God Grace IS Sufficient.

    thank you Jami for living out the gospel so transparently.

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  23. This is so raw and piercing and definitely brought tears to my eyes...yet filled with SO much grace and gentleness. You are absolutely right. Forgiveness is hard and messy and often doesn't appear to make much sense in the moment, but when we consider what Christ did for us - I mean REALLY consider it and allow it to penetrate the deepest part of our hearts - how can we not? I've wrestled through this deeply in my own life, and I keep coming back to this response. You & Nato are a living, breathing example of redemption because of forgiveness and I'm so thankful for your influence in this world. This is a message that needs to be told. Lots of love to you, sister! XO

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  24. 'forgiveness bypasses the offender and goes straight to God'... truth bomb on my heart. man i so need to let those strings go. the ones that are tied to my 'righteous anger'. i don't think God needs me to be offended on his behalf anymore... thanks yo. :)

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  25. I have a broken relationship with my father, and while reading a book called When People are Big and God is Small, I was struck by this quote: "Forgiving your enemy is the pinnacle of obedience to Christ." Oh, my. I ended up repenting to my father for his list of grievances against me, even though my self-righteous heart screamed that my sin may have been 5%, and his was 95%.
    He apologized as well, and I forgave him. Then we spent some time together without my stomach clenched in knots the whole time. And even though our relationship is still broken, there has been some supernatural restoration.
    Thanks for your post.

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  26. this is the best thing i have ever read about forgiveness!! great job.

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  27. jami, thank you for your honesty and for your story. i never tire of hearing it and how it has radically changed you. you have helped me see the gospel more clearly and what true forgiveness really looks like. thankful for you!!

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  28. Thanks for posting Jami. It still amazes me how much the uncomfortable hard things in life shape us and open up our world to a tangible savior and to own the gospel story within our daily lives. Ah! It's beautiful how God has used your affair to shape you into this amazingly teachable and enlightened beautiful woman! I work with students and moms in my ministry and my heart goes to James 1 everyday and trying to challenge women to let God shape them when life gets hard, I'm so glad you did open up your heart to God and that you didn't shut down like many of us would have done! And for letting God use you to speak to all of us, who read your blog. :)

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  29. Again... You are my favorite blogger...
    pointing me to Christ...Thank You!!
    I NEED to forgive my sister... I am always picking up the pieces of the mess, that is her life, & I am SICK of it...So I am MAD.. & holding it right out in front...
    Today I will truly lay it at the feet of the One who forgives me over & over..
    Thanks..You are remarkable...

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  30. I found your blog almost 2 years ago when my life turned upside down because i discovered my husband was involved in pornography. I don't remember how but one blog lead to another lead to another lead to yours. I read your story and was amazed at your strength. The past two years have been miserable. We've had ups and downs. I've said I forgive him but I've also told him that I won't try. That I will love him as much as he shows he loves me (and I hold him to a ridiculously unattainable standard). For some reason (God) I found myself back at your blog today. Stalking posts of your marriage redemption story. And God has used this post to open my eyes to my sin. I see now that its not your strength i've admired. It's Christ's work in you. I have not forgiven like Christ forgave me. Not even close. I've been soooo afraid of being hurt again. But Christ died for the very ones who were crucifying him. I don't know what this will look like as it work it out in my day to day life, but today I've repented of my sin. And I will ask my husband to forgive me as well. Thank you for your transparency. For sharing your story with strangers. Please pray for me....

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