One day I received an e-mail from a woman who was still bitter over a statement her husband made to her cousin ten years ago. She and her husband were preparing to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary, and she was dreading it because of his careless words a decade before. She wrote, “Please pray that God mends this title [sic] piece of my heart that has fallen to the ground.”
The word title was a typo—she meant to type little. To me, it was telling. Friend, we can allow someone’s little shortcomings to become the title of our story, or we can forgive and write a new storyline. Not only does forgiveness change the title of your story, it changes the ending as well. Click & Tweet! So, how exactly can we consciously pursue forgiveness?
It’s often the sandpaper of chafing personalities, unmet expectations, and hurt feelings that rub us the wrong way and leave us feeling rather raw. Being able to forgive past offenses and let go of past hurts is an essential component for growing a strong marriage or maintaining lasting friendships that last a lifetime.
On the other hand, unforgiveness blocks intimacy on an emotional and physical level. Click & Tweet!
Forgiveness in the original Greek is aphiemi and means “to let go from one’s power, possession, to let go free, let escape.” Biblical forgiveness means cutting someone loose. This word picture is one in which the unforgiven is roped to the back of the unforgiving. When we refuse to forgive, we bind ourselves to what we hate. When we forgive, we cut the person loose from our backs and set ourselves free as well. Click & Tweet!
Forgiveness can also be seen in terms of canceling a debt. In the Old Testament, when someone paid a debt, a notice of the debt paid in full was nailed to the lender’s door. That is what Jesus did when he was nailed to the cross—our debt was paid in full and nailed to heaven’s door. When you forgive your husband, friend, co-worker, or family member, you cancel a debt, which they never could’ve paid back anyway.
The first step to forgiveness is prayer. Click & Tweet! The Bible tells us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). I hope your husband is never your enemy, but there may be days you feel like he is. So let’s follow God’s instruction and start by praying for him. It may not turn your husband’s hardened heart to putty in your hands, but it will melt the hardness of resentment in your own. I’ve seen this happen time and time again in my own heart. No matter who you’re mad at, it’s difficult to stay mad when you’re praying for the person.
How many times are we to forgive? Peter asked Jesus that same question. “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
Jesus answered, “No, not seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21–22 nlt).
This doesn’t mean on the 491st offense we can choose not to forgive. Jesus was saying that there was no limit.
But what about those big offenses in marriage and other relationships? You know the ones I’m talking about. Pornography, alcoholism, drug abuse, betrayal and a host of other addictions must be addressed and dealt with for any marriage to survive and thrive. No one is doing his or her spouse or friend any favors by allowing such destructive behavior to continue. To ignore such issues is enabling sin to continue and poisoning the relationship with the arsenic of apathy or fear.
God’s call for us to forgive does not mean that a woman should stay with a man who is abusive or sexually unfaithful. Separation is sometimes the best course of action. The wife needs to make sure that she is safe. A wife can separate from her husband, pray for her marriage, and continue to trust God to bring healing and restoration.
So, yes, there are bigger issues that we do need to address as they come up, sometimes seeking professional help, but this does not mean forgiveness is on hold. There is a difference between forgiveness and trust. This is where the idea of reconciliation gets a bit muddy. Forgiveness can be immediate. Trust is rebuilt through right behavior over a period of time.
We see a beautiful picture of forgiveness in the Song of Solomon when the couple had a spat. Actually, twenty percent of the book is related to how they resolved conflict. And isn’t that what love is all about? With a husband, friend, family member, or co-worker—we rub each other the wrong way and then forgive the right way.
Lord, today I choose to forgive _____________ for ______________. I no longer hold the offense against him/her but cut him/her loose. I choose to let it go and set myself free. Now that I’ve made the decision, I depend on you to provide the feeling. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now the next time you remember the offense, also remember you have already forgiven that person. You may still have times when you still feel the hurt. That’s normal. Don’t think you really didn’t forgive. Sometimes it just takes time for the heart to catch up with the head.
How have you seen forgiveness change your life?
I’m so excited to announce that Lovestruck is the #1 new Christian marriage book on Amazon! Visit my website for a new price drop! Coming next week…the Lovestruck Bible Study Guide! Perfect for women’s ministry Bible studies.
I just had to laugh at the subject line of the email today: “Healing Your Heart When It’s Been Rubbed Raw from SharonJaynes.com”. It read as if Sharon Jaynes has rubbed my heart raw, LOL! I hope everyone else had a little chucke about this.
I would enjoy receiving your posts. Thank you
I enjoy your writing from today however, my husband is an alcoholic, he has had numerous affairs lies about near everything we have been married 35 yrs I stopped sleeping with him 12 yrs ago he has verbally and still does sometimes I feel repulsed by him I hvave prayed that God would heal my heart and I have become more contented the reason we live under the same roof is for finance situation , he is in denial about everything when I try to talk to him he said everything is my fault even the affairs that he had he told me I was no good in bed anyways so I have excepted that this is my life
To be set free, forgiveness needs to be INTENTIONAL.
Unforgiveness is the entry point for the enemy to mess us up all the more.
Been there, done that.
Victory in Jesus, is now mine. 🙌
Learning to forgive intentionally and lovingly,
is a precious jewel and we all desire that.
It truly is magical because joy and peace runs after us.
God blezz you all!
Maybe the wife’s issue is trust not unforgiveness. Maybe it started with the remark 10, 20, 30 years ago and he has been continually making them so that she cannot trust him to not start a big family argument with all her relatives. Maybe she doesnt feel safe with him. We can give forgiveness but if the other person never changes to restore trust than it makes look like there is unforgiveness when it is really a lack
of trust. so what then?
I will be so pleased to be receiving those enriching mails. Thanks a bunch.
I love how you said something along the lines of, “It’s hard to stay mad at someone you’re praying for.” Maybe that was the Lord’s intention for us all along. Instead of ruminating on something, we turn that person over to Him and pray for them. It softens us, but also blesses them in some way. God always seems to give us peace when we think we’re depleted, and He’s provided ways for us to rest our minds and just trust Him. 💕
I love your posts. It’s rare that I feel that I’m at the same level of Christian maturity with others in Christ (we’re not meant to be on the same level and it’s not a knock on others who are at different points of the journey), but I learn and agree so much with what you share. God bless your ministry.
Thank you so much!
Living for 27 years with a husband who has a mental illness is so tough, especially when told recently that I “haven’t been through this so I don’t understand” and that the neighbor, a young single woman he has known for 1 year understands, so he needs to spend time with her. The emotional abuse I have lived with through the years is so hard to forgive! Yet I have done it again and again. Some days I wonder why? But I love him, and I love Christ, and so I do!
Hi Sharon. Thank you for your ministry and heart for women. My husband and I have no intimacy in our marriage. We love each other dearly and committed to our relationship. But there’s always this elephant in the room that we are not having sex. My husband is becoming resentful and unforgiving. I know the obvious answer is to have sex but the interest is not there. Can you help?
This is an elephant in the room in your relationship to your husband and with God. Yikes, that sounds harsh, but it’s not meant to be. This is it as a way of loving your husband. Loving him in a way that God intended. Read 1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
It is not God’s will for a healthy husband and wife to not come together physically. I really suggest reading my new book Lovestruck. It might show you a side of sexual intimacy that you haven’t considered before. Sometimes obeying God has nothing to do with desire, but the joy that comes when we do obey God’s word is amazing!