“I just can’t go to church. My heart isn’t right. I just keep remembering, and I simply can’t forgive him,” the young wife mourned.
My heart ached for her. I know how hard it is to find healing for past hurts—to experience genuine forgiveness. As this young woman poured out her story to me, I prayed for wisdom to give her tools to find true healing.
In short, before she and her husband married, he’d had dalliances with other women. She knew about it but felt she loved him enough that it wouldn’t be a problem. She was an Adventist Christian, and I was close with her, so I had a very candid discussion with her before the wedding, making sure she understood what she was likely getting into. But generally, as Kent likes to say, “Those in love are not in their right minds.” How true it was in her case.
So we were all glad when, several years into the marriage, things seemed to be going well for the couple. Then a neighbor with a penchant for gossip and dirt-digging found an opportunity to tell the wife the juicy details of her husband’s earlier indiscretions. This filled her with fresh anger at her husband and the women he had been involved with before their marriage. She told me, “I know he tries hard to be a good husband. He is changing for the better. He’s hardworking, he helps with the kids, and he’s nice to me. But I just can’t forget. And when I remember, I feel hurt and angry all over again.”
As I shared my own journey towards forgiveness, she marveled that she might also experience that. I assured her that she could. “How long did it take for you?” she asked.
“It took me a very long time to realize that I hadn’t forgiven, but when the truth came crashing in on me, I pled with God to give me the victory. Every time the hurtful memories would come back, I would acknowledge the memory but pray for the Lord to help me forgive the person who had hurt me, and gradually He did. I can honestly say now that when the memories come back, it is without the intense pain that was once there. The Lord is replacing my unforgiving heart with one that loves. It can happen for you, too.”
As I prayed for my friend, I asked the Lord to give her victory over the memories the devil wanted to use to destroy her, and to use them instead to help her learn genuine forgiveness.
As I was making introductory remarks before the ladies’ Bible study last Sabbath, this young woman came in and gave me a warm smile. She was back in church! I haven’t had an opportunity to ask her how her journey towards forgiveness is going, but the fact that she was in church and smiling told me that she is on the right path. Praise the Lord!