After taking a week and trying to physically serve your husband, what do you think? Was it easy? Was it a constant struggle to stay humble while serving him? I think some days can be easier than others. One way that I have found to make the waiting easier is to remember to continually forgive.
Many people believe that once you forgive someone of something you should just forget it and move on. That would be great if it were that easy. God is able to “remember our sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). However, I don’t see it as being that easy for us as humans. Hurts and disappointments and betrayals tend to take us a while to heal from. Often times, we do more damage by forgiving once and then forcing ourselves to just “move on” without giving that hurt another thought. That’s not healing. That’s repressing.
Now, I’m in no way saying that you should allow your hurt to fester. Rather, I’m suggesting the exact opposite. Once you have been hurt, you must forgive. It’s commanded that if we want to be forgiven for anything that we’ve done wrong, we must also forgive (Matt 6:14). But once you do that, what do you do from there?
Look at John 8:1-11. This is the story of how Jesus was teaching a group of people when the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to him for “judgement”.
They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
I’ve read a commentary on this before that suggests that maybe Jesus went around the circle and wrote the sins of each of the accusers in the dirt in front of them. I have no idea if that was what actually happened but how humbling if it did! What if each man was reminded of the sin that he himself had committed recently?
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Jesus, again the one has every right to condemn and accuse, chooses to forgive. But I also believe that he showed the other accusers a way to help them to learn to forgive.
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Every morning that you wake up, every moment that you have an interaction with your spouse, you have a choice. You can choose to be arrogant and forget your own sin. Or you can remember, in humility, that you are a sinner as well and, in turn, forgive them. Yes, the hurts and the consequences remain, but constantly making your spouse pay penance or feel guilty over their sin only discourages them more. Jesus simply said “Go now and leave your life of sin.” She felt guilty enough without Him needing to remind her.
When I was in my affair and the years afterwards, Derek made every effort to not make me feel guilty for what I was or had been doing. He never threw it back in my face that I was an adulterer and that I had abandoned him, even though I had. He humbly allowed the Holy Spirit to bring guilt to me as I needed it. But by not adding extra guilt, he also allowed the Spirit to bring encouragement and edification to me when that’s what I needed more.
If you struggle with making the moment by moment choice to forgive, I would challenge you to make a list of sins that you struggle with. Remind yourself that you are not perfect. You (and I) are a sinner (Romans 3:23). We must remember that fact before we attempt to condemn anyone else, especially our spouses.
I challenge you to make this list and to live in Christ’s forgiveness from those sins. But then do the same for your spouse. Allow them to live in His freedom as well. Constantly live the verse that says “Then neither do I condemn you…” and then step back and allow the Spirit to finish the verse by allowing Him alone to lead them out of their life of sin.
If you’ve missed any of the previous posts in this While I’m Waiting series, go here. And remember that you don’t have to be waiting on your spouse to come back from an affair. You could just be waiting on your husband to lead your home more. Or waiting on him to spend more time with the family. Every marriage goes through seasons of waiting. It’s what we do while we wait, that makes all of the difference.