Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…
I have spent the better part of the past year feeling trespassed against.
Honestly, I believe there is legitimacy to that feeling. The bombshell that dropped into my life last August was very real and the shrapnel is deeply embedded in pretty much every area of my life. I’ll be picking it out of my wounds for years to come.
In the last month, however, I have felt a tangible healing. A feeling that my Maker is reaching into the marrow and fiber of my being and putting my heart back in place. It’s nothing visible, necessarily, but something I can sense…recognize in some deep place that doesn’t hurt quite as much now.
I truly don’t understand why my wife left me. I’ve asked for a list of grievances and received few in return. It boils down to the reality that she doesn’t feel love for me anymore. That’s a hard reality to argue against. I couldn’t have convinced her to love me twenty-two years ago. It was something that happened as she got to know me and as God brought us together. Similarly, I can’t convince her to love me now. Now that she has closed me out of her heart and her adoration.
My heart has been hurt, but so has my pride. I’ve felt like I’ve failed in some way that I can’t even quantify. I think that’s why I’ve asked for lists…it’s easier to know what to do with the pain and sadness when I have a clearer sense of what caused it to exist. I’m realizing now I don’t need the lists, though. I can make my own lists of the things in my life that aren’t what they should be…and I can begin to look at how to fix them or restore them.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:28 (The Message)
It sounds so pithy to say – in that moment of hardship – that all things work for good. I am seeing how true those words are, though. Throughout this journey of sadness I have never felt like God disappeared. I have never felt like He was missing from my struggle. Now, in honesty, I haven’t always appreciated the answers He’s given me or the reality that He hasn’t restored my marriage like I so desperately prayed for Him to do…but I know that God has been unfathomably faithful.
I am a broken person…a flawed man. I need God’s forgiveness for a million little sins and several more significant shortcomings and I know that I can’t expect to earn His favor by getting it all right for a change. I realize that God’s forgiveness and healing are matters of His mercy…not my merit. Even so, if I am going to look for God’s forgiveness, I need to be willing to forgive those who have harmed me.
I need to be willing to forgive the woman I married twenty years ago. I need to be willing to forgive the woman who left.
I think I am finally ready to do that.
Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.” Mark 11:22-25 (The Message)
I forgive Hope.