How forgiving an ex taught me the fullness of God's love
"You can't forgive without loving. And I don't mean sentimentality. I don't mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, 'I forgive. I'm finished with it.'" - Maya Angelou
From 19 to 23, I was entangled with a guy that I loved very much. Having spent our formative years together, we became rather codependent– Which did not mix well with the ongoing lies, cheating, and emotional abuse. Things got chaotic to say the least. The depression that gripped me after our breakup sent me to rock bottom– But ultimately, it served as the pathway to my restored relationship with Christ. Yay! Saved! But...regarding dude, I was still deeply hurt and wrestled with the notion that I was called to forgive him for his actions. In fact, I rejected the thought. I was stuck in a victim mentality and comfortable with the thought that I’d feel that way forever.
A couple years post break-up, The Holy Spirit began drumming up his name on a random winter day. I was ignoring it (cuz, weht?). It got louder, and I finally acknowledged it. Then I heard the word "forgive". (Nooo!!!!) At the time I was kind of shocked at the oversight. I’d been trying my best to live biblically– Very churched up and self-reflective– But I thought there could still be “bad guys” in my life. Like, “No God, you see, this person was especially trifling...So I need a pass!” And in my mind, God responded like, “Yes...He was very petty. No problem, no forgiving necessary.” But, nah– He's called me to forgive everyone. And even love my enemies. It got heavy on my heart.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
In the midst of this conviction, I realized Jesus fully understands that deep, excruciating, heartbreaking pain incurred by man. God knows rejection. And there's no hurt I experienced in that relationship that God himself hasn't felt through His Son Christ. He knows my pain. And despite our shortcomings, He forgave us, and died for us. That’s when I realized just how much He loves me, and how deeply empathetic He is toward our earthly experience. This was a major revelation. WOW!
The Power of Love
Leading up to this, I'd spent time pondering how one feels the unconditional love of God. I didn't take for granted the love in salvation and safe-keeping, I knew God loved me...but in my spiritual infancy and curiosity, I wanted to know how you really feel it– In the in-between moments. I prayed for this understanding– And he answered in the most dynamic way possible, through this forgiveness. It was like, not only are you going to conquer this stronghold, but you're going to understand the fullness of my love for you too!
Extending this forgiveness was one of the most beautiful feelings I’ve ever experienced. I’d never felt closer to Christ. This was bigger than me, my ex, and our history. This was about my relationship with Jesus. I had a deeper understanding of the moment on the Cross that changed everything. This took a lot of prayer and I was definitely operating in the power of the Holy Spirit when I pulled the trigger. Fear could've gripped me, but it didn’t. And when it happened– I was freed. The stronghold of hostility and pain shattered. That's that miracle work.
PATIENCE + HEALING
I wanted to share this as an encouragement to anyone who is having difficulty offering forgiveness to someone they believe doesn’t deserve it. I know how challenging it can be. I don’t want to give the impression this happens overnight or comes easily. In my case, it took years post break-up. It may be quick for some, but it will always occur in God’s timing. Be patient and prayerful, and watch God work on your behalf. You can find healing through the love of Christ.
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 1 John 1:6 NIV
Have you ever extended forgiveness to someone who you felt didn’t deserve it? Struggling to forgive? Message me or comment below!