Sunday, March 25, 2012

How Can I Forgive Myself?

Dear Darlene,

I need some advice. One day I got a message from a guy I had met a few months before. I knew his wife through family and she had mentioned several times that they were filing for divorce because they couldn't stand each other anymore, so I felt justified in being his friend. If I had been any friend at all I would have been pushing him back toward his wife, telling him to fight for his marriage, and cutting contact, but I didn't. I couldn't, because I NEEDED him in a way I had never needed anyone. I needed him to validate me. I needed someone, ANYONE to want me.

Within a couple of months we were much more than best friends and I knew it. We were towing a very blurry line and it didn't take much to push us over to the wrong side. In 2009, at 19-years-old, I broke the one vow I had kept to God and to myself. I slept with a man who was not my husband, and worse than that, a man who was someone else's husband. I have never felt so much hatred toward myself than I did after that. Eventually she found out about the affair and he moved in with me. She had been considering marriage counseling, which of course I didn't know, and she was heartbroken over the betrayal she felt. She and I talked about everything because I felt I at least owed her that. I apologized profusely but I knew she wouldn't be able to forgive me just as I knew I'd never forgive myself. She still hates me, and I want her to. I can't defend a single decision I made because I KNEW it was wrong.

This past October I married that man. I wish I could say there is a happy ending because I hate a sad love story as much as the next person, but I can't. I can say that no matter how we found each other, I love him more than life itself. He is my best friend, my confidant, and a far better man today than he was the day we broke his vows. I just can't get past it. I can't let go. I feel like my decisions ruined the life of a woman who didn't deserve it and at the same time, broke me.

I hate that I disappointed God. I don't know how I let myself get that low. I know that I can never truly move forward, I will never truly be happy, until I can forgive myself but I can't because I know I don't deserve to be forgiven.

I have been finding my way back to God. I know that he never left me, I left him and I know that He has forgiven me because I have begged him for forgiveness. God's love is enfolding me. My life is changed but I am still miserable. I truly don't know what to do. How can I forgive myself for what I did? How can I forgive my husband for what he helped me do? I have said I forgive him, and I have even felt like I do, but there are always those moments when I fear that he will leave me the way he left her, and I hate myself for that but I feel like I hate him for that too. I know how awful this all sounds and I pray that you can find it in your heart not to judge me because of it, even as I judge myself.


Conflicted & Unforgiven

Dear Conflicted & Unforgiven,

Thank you for your letter. I pray that my words may help in your healing process as you bring this burden to the feet of our Lord.

One line in your letter really stood out to me. It is this: "She still hates me, and I want her to. I can't defend a single decision I made because I KNEW it was wrong."

You are right and you are wrong. Here's why--what you did was very sinful and there is nothing you can say to defend that, we all know this, BUT grace and forgiveness is for sinners. If we only gave grace and forgiveness to the good people in our lives, what benefit would that be to anyone?

I know your pain. I went against everything that I believe and sinned against God and my husband. I felt sick about it, I felt useless and I felt dirty.

What I was feeling was the weight of my sin, but sin doesn't define who we are--God's grace does!

Without sin we have no need for grace. Do you know what I'm saying? Unless we can see the stain of our sin against the perfection of His immaculate grace we will never understand what a gift that grace truly is.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. ~ Ephesians 2:8, KJV

Look at the Bible and you'll see that God used people who were broken, sinful, and tarnished to build his kingdom.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. ~ Matthew 16:18

Peter is the same man who later denied Jesus Christ hours before his death. Imagine that. Jesus vowed to build his church upon the faith of this believer and this very same man did the unthinkable by denying his Lord, and his friend as He was being led to His His crucifixion.

My servant Peter was not changed in a flash from a simple fisherman to a great leader and teacher, but through the very time of faithlessness -- through the very time of denial -- I was yet making him all that he should be. Impetuous spokesman as he always was, ready to lead the other disciples, Peter could never have been the after power he was, had he not learned his weakness. No man can save, unless he understands the sinner. (God Calling April 4th)

And finally, I'm reminded of something that my dad told me months before he died. They are simple yet powerful words, "God doesn't care about what you did yesterday. He's concerned about what you'll do today."

It sounds to me like God has offered you grace and a new beginning. You're standing at a crossroad in your life where you can either hang on to the pain of your past or move forward walking in grace.

If you'd like to read more about my experience, you can find it here: Grace is for Sinners.

You are loved by an almighty God,

Darlene Schacht

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