How did you ever forgive your husband for cheating on you?
I get asked this question alot. Especially from my female friends.
And honestly I don’t really know. First, I’m not sure that I have forgiven. That proclaims a certain amount of past tense accomplishment, i.e. I have lived in Ohio, or I have been to Thailand, and leaves drastic holes in depicting what it means to forgive. For me, it is ongoing. It is just as much present as it is past.
Yes, I have forgiven, but I am still forgiving. Yes, I have made that choice, but I continue to make that choice. Even today.
How do I forgive my husband for cheating on me?
The same way I forgive him for not meeting all of my emotional needs or not treating me with the kindness that I deserve. The same way I forgive him for every other selfish act that he’s committed. I choose to. Because it’s the right thing to do.
You see, forgiving my husband was and still is, the easy part. From the day that he confessed his infidelity, I could see his humility. Though he broke my trust, I could see his heart. Because of that I was able to, at least for the moment, turn a blind eye to the pain he was causing me. I could see the desperation in him to love me better and I believed in his ability to do so. I saw the good in him, even through the ugly.
I wish I could say I was that nice to myself. But I can’t, because I wasn’t.
In fact, I was pretty brutal to me.
I hated myself for being the fool all those years. I was furious that I had believed a lie for that long. Mad that I had blindly believed that I was my husband’s only one, the apple of his eye, the love of his life. And that he would never even look at another woman, because he was so in love with me.
How could I have been so naive? How could I not have seen the signs? How could I be so stupid to think that the man I married would never even look at, much less have sex with someone else?
Those were the questions that bombarded and tormented me for the next several years, as I sunk into a downward spiral of self-hatred and self-loathing that even a mass murderer does not deserve. They pushed me into the deepest depresion of my life and eventually to the very edge of suicide.
Until one day, I heard these words:
Your God is standing right here among you…
He will joyfully celebrate over you;
He will rest in His love for you.
And then this:
He will joyfully sing because of you, like a new husband.
These words blasted my wretched paradigm into a thousand pieces when a friend of mine spoke them to me. They were not her words, but those of the prophet Zephaniah in his description of God’s heart toward some pretty messed up humans.
I thought: if the God of the universe is rejoicing over me, then why am I still beating myself up? If He actually sings ‘because‘ of me, then why do I refuse to look in the mirror and see the good that delights him?
It was the single most compelling thought I have ever had about God or his love toward me. And it continues to change me, even years later.
This is how I forgive my husband. And this is how I forgive myself.
I am very much IN process, but I realize now that I am just as deserving as my husband is, to be given a second chance. When I yell at my child. When I say things I don’t mean. When I miss an important songwriting session, because I have left my lyric sheets twelve hundred miles away. When I forget. When I procrastinate and run late. And yes, even when I act ugly.
I can forgive myself because the One who made me, not only forgives, but celebrates me. He not only extends grace, he bestows honor. To me. To my husband. To all of his children, even when they act ugly.
Shouldn’t I do the same?
Continued in the next post…My Journey to Health: Learning to Forgive, Part 2.