Has a hurtful situation got you down? Today’s guest blogger, delightful Beth Vice, gives hope with her breakthrough story.
Forgiveness is like the rings of a tree—the more we forgive, the more evidence of healthy growth in our lives. Sometimes the rings are thick, when we take advantage of God’s abundant nourishment. Sometimes the rings are small, when we turn away and experience drought. The goal is to continue growing, reaching deep into His sustaining life.
My soul has suffered from the normal bumps and bruises in life. The hardest thing to forgive, however, was finding out my husband of twenty-plus years didn’t love me and didn’t want to fight for our marriage. I discovered he’d been seeing someone else and I was suddenly out.
I struggled to forgive her—whom I had trusted. She aimed her wiles at my husband, broke up our home, shattering my heart.
I struggled to forgive him—he knew her history. How could he have fallen for the same temptations as the others? What about our children?
I struggled to forgive my girls—how could they be so rebellious and angry to me when I was the innocent one?
I struggled to forgive others—who said they knew all along! Why didn’t they do something?
Most of all, I struggled to forgive myself—how could I have been so naïve? Why didn’t I see the signs? Why didn’t I take action sooner when I felt the growing distance? How did I become unlovable?
Over the years, my forgiveness rings grew fat when I immersed in God’s Word and put godly counsel into practice. Other times, I fell into bitterness, and nursed new wounds that gouged deep into the bark of my soul. Those years had thin rings with little growth. Yet all the while my heart belonged to God and He loved me completely.
For twelve years I fought a niggling belief I was somehow irreparably flawed. The Bible tells me I’m forgiven and I bask in the love of a man who adores me. Yet I’d begun to wonder if I could ever forgive myself for the breakup of my first marriage. It seemed like the unforgiveable sin, to fail at something so basic.
Then our pastor did a sermon on Shame. If someone had asked me that morning if I struggled with shame I would have said “No.” But Pastor Jeff said, “If God has forgiven you, you don’t have to be ashamed of anything you have done or anything that has been done to you.” I felt something break inside. I couldn’t stop the tears.
It was true. I’ve been ashamed! I hated admitting I’ve been divorced; that our five kids are not all mine. I’ve grieved that my girls have to deal with the insecurities and complications of a blended family. But I finally let it go. In God’s eyes I’m clean.
I forgave myself for being human and my contribution to the failed marriage. I also realized if I’d been the one to leave the marriage, Jesus’ forgiveness would cover that shame as well. What freedom there is in Christ! No matter what we’ve done; no matter what’s been done to us, we demonstrate His power over sin when we grow rings of forgiveness.
Friend, what do your forgiveness tree rings look like today?
Beth Vice has been writing about living passionately for Christ since 1984. She’s currently working on a divorce recovery book. Six of her books are available on Amazon, including: Forty Days of Lint, The Four Gifts of Christmas, Taking Back October, Louie the Lemon, and her new book: My First Bible Memory Book.
Genuine, transformative, and love-filled, Beth! Thank you!
Rise to freedom!