You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ category.

I love you.  I wanted to start with that statement. It stands alone, with no qualifiers. I am sorry for not being the support, friend, leader or lover that you have needed (individually, not necessarily all at once). I don’t understand how women work. You baffle me, more often than not. This is not to say “I give up”, but to say “I will yet try harder, until I do understand you, who you are, what you need, and most importantly, what you need me to be for you”. I will still frustrate you, most likely to tears on occasion, but that is because I am a man, not because I don’t love you. I don’t offer an excuse, just a statement/explanation. The good news is that, being a man, I am fundamentally incapable of quitting until I get it right.

By God’s Grace,
I WILL: be your biggest fan.
I WILL: be your best friend.
I WILL: be a leader you can follow.
I WILL: be a lover you desire.
I DO: love you without reservation.

I am sorry for not being enough of these things for you, and I am sorry for all the hurts this has caused you.

I freely forgive, and forget, all past hurts to me, real or imagined.

I am so sorry for not keeping my word to you. I know this hurt you deeply, and I am so very sorry.

Yours to command,

<My Husband>

 

WOW!  He sent this to me at work recently and I almost started crying.  I am humbled and amazed – and yes, I told him so.  Just when my little seedling of faith was withering away God sends a dose of Miracle Grow – from my husband of all people!

I think we’re going to be OK…

 

Advertisements

Stephanie is right – I do love my family.  Stephanie, thank you for your note and the gentle rebuke.

Your comment has made me realize that I’m actually still quite mad at him (and I’m not at all offended with you!).  I have read your advice over and over again and I can see that I’ve become very selfish.  I’ve grown tired of waiting, I wanted him to do things for me, my way RIGHT NOW because I deserve it  and am tired of always giving and giving and never getting much out of this relationship.  That, however, is not unconditional love so now I’m finding myself wanting, ha!, demanding what I am no longer willing to give.  Oh the irony…

Now, in spite of having spent the last 7 – 8 years watching the slow, gradual change that God has worked in his life to bring him to the place he is today I had stopped trusting God to complete the work He started in my husband and decided it wasn’t fast enough to suit me anymore because “I deserved better than this”.

Essentially, this most recent bout with discontent can be tracked to one particular disagreement that happened almost two years ago now:  For various reasons I wanted to leave our church and attend a different Charismatic, Christian church.  I didn’t have any particular church in mind, just any other church, preferably closer to home so our girls could get to know other Christian kids that hopefully lived in the neighborhood and could connect at both school and church.

Now my husband is of the stay-where-you’re-at-until-you’re-given-new-directions-by-God-Himself opinion, basically he believes that until God speaks to him in a loud, booming, audible voice “You will start attending church such-and-such  at the beginning of next month”  then we are to stay where we’re at.  My reason for leaving is logic-based, that if we are not continuing to grow as individuals and as a family then just maybe we’ve learned all that we can at this church for now and should go somewhere else where our learning can continue to move forward.

We went back and forth over this for months.  Why did I want to leave, why did he want to stay.  Finally he told me we would go and try other churches just to see what was out there.  He was serving as an usher and they asked for a month’s notice to replace him so he gave his months notice and on our last Sunday we sat in the sanctuary for a really long time after the service ended.  Almost everyone had gone home before he turned to me and said “I can’t do it, we’re not leaving”.  With that statement and decision he broke trust with me.  He had made me a promise that we would go look for other churches and then decided that this church has a higher priority in his life than I do so that promise to me wasn’t worth keeping… and it made me feel like I was insignificant to him and to our family.   When I look at it carefully I see that what’s really happened over the last two years is that I became angry with my husband and I have let that anger build to the point where I was one conversation away from kicking him out of the house about two months ago.  We did manage to reconcile that day and avoided a messy separation but my anger stayed in it’s crock pot, tucked into a quiet corner while it slowly heated up again and all I could see were his faults, magnified.

This is what I need to forgive him for, and I need to ask his forgiveness for my staying angry with him for all this time.h

Once again, Stephanie is right – I need to forgive him and stop judging him so harshly.  He is as God made him, warts and all, and he is trying the best he knows how to love me, warts and all.

The fact that I haven’t had mushy, ooey-gooey or passionate feelings for anyone or anything for a super-long time probably just means that my “feeler” is broke.  I think I buried it along with my heart in self-defense a long time ago and the fact that I’m “missing” having feelings is – hopefully – a positive sign of something deep inside starting to heal.

Oh – and Hiddinsight, I have been referred to a psychiatric counselor who does both counseling and medication management while keeping my primary doctor in the loop so hopefully that will be more helpful to me than my previous counselors have been.

I’m going to wrap it up for now, my pills have kicked in and it will probably be hilarious to read tomorrow what I wrote tonight but the pills don’t seem to change what I think, they just free me to write more than I usually would .

Have a fabulous 4th of July, I plan on spending as much of it as possible in bed getting lots of rest before I have to go back to work on Friday.

Again, comments are always welcome, I’m learning and growing and I’m sure I can’t be the only one out there going through this kind of stuff.

Yesterday morning I sat up in bed as my husband was sitting across the room putting his shoes on.  He had been withdrawn and grumpy for the last few days so, in my never-ending quest to become bolder, I simply said the words:  “Are you upset with me?”  I’m so brave, I know…

He paused and then we had a conversation where he told me:
1.  His addiction wasn’t really an addiction, it was just his attempts at filling a “hole” in his life of something he was missing and he only accepted 50% responsibility for this “hole”, the rest was my fault.
2.  He didn’t think I was a Godly Wife because I didn’t “desire” him but he couldn’t prove it because he didn’t know any scriptures to back it up with.
3.  He couldn’t believe that there was never any “attraction” between us because why else would we have stayed married all these years (almost 19) if we weren’t attracted to each other?

I felt he was angry and speaking from his heart, finally saying how he really felt so I very calmly asked some questions to clarify his statement until I was satisfied I knew what he was saying.  Be proud of me, that took A LOT of effort, just sayin’.

I rode the bus to work and started writing him a letter which I finished on a break later in the day.  I wrote about how he had brought pornography into our marriage right from the start and after just a few years we were convicted that it was wrong so “we” stopped viewing pornographic materials.  (It always made me feel so yucky inside, it wasn’t very hard for me to stop.)  I felt like I was writing with “righteous anger” and the words just poured onto the page.  I refused to accept responsibility for any percentage of this “hole” in his life that was clearly there long before I ever met him and I informed him that yes, indeed, he had an addiction and needed to admit it and defeat it.  I concluded my handwritten, 9-page letter (on 6″ x 8″ paper) by saying there were plenty of $500/month apartments near where he worked and he should go get one and be gone from our house for a minimum of one year.

My anger has changed over the years, I used to withdraw and “turtle up” until it was safe to come out again.  In my quest to “find myself” I have become a warrior, hard as a diamond and cold as the Arctic.  Don’t mess with me, I will not be your doormat anymore.

So after work I go home and immediately have a phone situation to deal with.  Almost 2 hours later I have solved one of our two problems and am sitting in the easy chair, playing Farmville2 on my laptop while my husband is sitting on the couch next to me, watching a show and reading a book, acting like everything was fine and dandy.

I have not given him the letter, wanting to write it up neatly because it was a rough draft with things crossed out and what not.  I am trying to keep my face neutral to stern, hoping he will notice and ask me what’s wrong…

It finally becomes obvious that he is not operating under the belief that our morning talk had an impact on our relationship so I finally asked him if he had any other thoughts regarding our conversation that morning.

He put his book down, sighed and said that obviously I had some thoughts about our conversation so why don’t I share them?

We wound up having a good, open, honest talk.  Maintaining my austere aloofness I asked him, point-blank if he still thought I was an Ungodly Wife and if he still believed he didn’t have an addiction.

It immediately became clear that just as I shouldn’t have any serious talks at night after I’ve taken my sleeping pills, he shouldn’t have any serious talks first thing in the morning, despite his belief that he is a morning person…

I put my newly-found sunglasses of Love and Forgiveness on while he did most of the talking and realized four very important things:
1.  My husband has absolutely no self-esteem whatsoever.  The self-talk that goes on inside his head is so cruel and negative – he almost cried while talking about it and if I wasn’t in Xena Princess Warrior mode I would have cried too, it’s horrible to imagine anybody living with that.
2.  My husband has the emotional maturity of an 8-year-old.  Seriously.  Sticks and stones can break his bones but words and dark glances will kill him.
3.  My husband is not a good communicator.  He uses words that I associate with completely different things than he does.  For example when he said I wasn’t a Godly Wife because I didn’t “desire” him I immediately thought “sex”.  He meant something more along the lines of “respect” and wanting to spend time with him… and so on.  Most likely I’m so weary of having sex all the time that I’m on the defensive, hearing and seeing “suggestiveness” in everything he says and does.  But still, what he means is not what is usually communicated to me.
4.  My husband is probably depressed and should be on medication.  He actually said the first part – that he wonders if he’s depressed.  I said let’s go to the doctor and he immediately resisted, claiming it was embarrassing enough to be going to a counselor.  I have quite a bit of Prozac left over from when my doctor switched me to another medicine so I suggested he start taking that (yes, I know, all kinds of wrong and illegal) and if after a month he felt better, then he could go to the doctor and get his own prescription and if he didn’t feel better he could stop taking them.  He said he doesn’t want to be stuck taking pills for the rest of his life…. ugh!  (This one I will win, he just doesn’t know it yet.)

So, to sum it all up, for almost 20 we’ve pretty much had the exact same needs – to be appreciated and loved/respected for who we are – but we’ve been speaking totally different languages and had completely unreasonable, and entirely unspoken, expectations regarding the other.  That, right there, changes everything…  I decide to hold off on giving him the letter.

I grew up with no self-esteem.  I started to recognize that fact it in my 20’s and have been actively working on believing that I have value for the last 10 years.  I never imagined guys would have this problem too, and especially not my macho, controlling, selfish, easily angered husband.  I had actually thought he esteemed himself too highly for all these years, if you want my honest opinion.  But last night he was broken before me, poured wide open in emotional honesty for possibly the first time in his life.

This changes the way I will talk to him – I will use simpler communication not expect him to react like a mature adult.  I will give him more encouragement and praise and ask the girls to do the same.  I will (quietly) ask men at church to encourage him and build him up.  I will wait another year to see if he improves and re-evaluate life at that time.  If he is playing me, and I’m sure some of my friends will think he is, then a year is ample time to prove himself to me one way or another.

My eyes are wide open and my heart is still going to be guarded but last night, in just a few moments of listening and hearing what he was saying, everything changed.

I was on my way home from work and the sun was shining brightly.  So brightly, in fact, that I was wearing my way cool – and polarized – sunglasses.  There was a large cloud next to the sun and I saw the widest, most brilliant rainbow I’d ever seen on the side of the cloud.  It was just in that spot – nowhere else.  It wasn’t raining, just a bright, sunny day with a few big, white, fluffy clouds.  I took my sunglasses off and the rainbow turned into an unbearably bright white spot on the side of the cloud.  I put my sunglasses back on and – rainbow!  Off again, bright white spot.  On, off, on, off…yes I did this for a while…

That got me thinking, where else in life are there Hidden Rainbows?  Where are things, especially in my own past that I might look at and say “Oh, that’s just a cloud” or “Oh, that hurts my eyes to look at it”.  When I view life with a different filter what will I see?  Beauty where there was normal, or even ugly?  Rainbows in places that are still too painful to look at directly? 

But what filter do I use to change my vision?  My sunglasses are polarized and let me see all kinds of things my normal eyes can’t see.  When I am wearing my polarized sunglasses I find that many electronics have a colored sheen on the displays, almost like when water runs down the street and sometimes you can see a rainbow of colors in the surface because it picks up all the traces of oil and antifreeze, etc from the roadway.  The polarization also cuts down the glare from the sun on the windshields of other cars making it possible to see what’s going on inside the cars around me with my sunglasses on but without them I can only see that yes, there is a car there but the glare of the sun on the windshields makes it impossible to see the driver or passengers. Unfortunately, sunglasses can only help you in the physical world, they can’t show you the hidden rainbows in your past – or present – or help you see into a co-workers weird and unexplainable actions (or maybe it’s my weird and unexplainable actions…).

Love is a good filter, probably the greatest filter.  Love God first, then people.  If we can do this – if I can do this because I am totally preaching to myself here – then we the people will have insight into the ways of others and see the hidden rainbows everywhere we go.  Life will become a better place for all of us. 

Let me be clear in one thing, however, Love is different than tolerance, a LOT different.  America has become tolerant crazy and people nowadays seem to think that if you’re not tolerant of them and whatever it is their doing, well then you’re just a hater.  This is not true.   Love does have rules, and strangely enough, the list of Love’s rules contains a lot of “don’t”s.  I Corinthians 13:4-8 says

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but (does) rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.   Love never fails.

By way of example, it is loving on my part to NOT tolerate my husband’s addiction because it is bad for him personally, it is bad for me personally, it is ruining our marriage and threatening the security of our children.  Tolerance can be good but it has been misused and re-defined to the point that tolerance can also be very, very bad and allow all sorts of harmful things to grow up strong and completely unchallenged in today’s society.

But now I feel like I’m getting into an entirely different topic so I’ll save that for another blog. 

Another really good filter is Forgiveness.  Stop holding grudges and making people “pay” for their mistakes long after they remember they even made one.  Yes, you were hurt in the past but it made you who you are today so mourn for your loss – for a short time – and then let it go.  Forgive the one(s) who hurt you and move on.  You are stronger because of everything you’ve come through UNLESS you refuse to forgive because it takes all your strength to carry those grudges, especially when you keep adding new grudges to the old ones.  (Still preaching to myself here…)

So back to my sunglasses analogy – Forgiveness is like the dark tint of your sunglasses, you can’t see things in the shadows very well, or at all, depending on how dark they are, i.e., how well you’ve forgiven the offender(s).  Love is the polarization on your sunglasses.  It reveals beauty that can’t be seen any other way and can bring understanding of what’s going on inside people and situations that you couldn’t see before because, unaided, you could never see past the blinding glare they projected.

So put your sunglasses on, your “new” sunglasses of Love and Forgiveness.  Look at the list and stop doing some of the things you’ve been doing and start to do some of the things you don’t normally do.  The next grudge you remember – forgive the one(s) who offended you and move past it.  Find the Hidden Rainbows and you’ll discover that your world – and the world of the people around you – is a much better place!