A couple nights ago, a friend called from Rochester. As we caught up on each other’s lives I asked about her in-laws. I’d been in a small group with her mother-in-law during a healing retreat. At the time her MIL had recently confronted her husband about his affair. She was in process of figuring out whether to stay with him or not.
It turns out they ended up divorcing. I never knew her husband, but based on what I’d learned of her that weekend, I could imagine it would have been difficult for her to choose to forgive.
As I thought about that situation, I had this thought about forgiveness:
In order to truly forgive, you have to die. You have to give up your right to be angry, bitter, or hurt, you have to die to your pride or self-defense. The reality is you DO have a “right” to those emotions because you were wronged. There is no forgiveness without death—that’s why it’s so difficult to do. None of us want to die. Volunteering for it seems highly counter productive. Yet the mystery at the heart of my faith is that without death there can be no life. Through death and then resurrection we can experience a new, deeper/higher, more joy-filled level of life.
I know that I’m struggling with places where my self-preservation/comfort instinct is at war with the need to just lay down and let God have access to my attitude. I KNOW how hard it is to forgive, but I’ve also seen amazing fruit in my life and in other’s lives when they were able to make that choice.
My friend’s MIL did the ‘logical’ thing: she didn’t die. So her marriage did. I can understand her solution, but I wonder what new marriage might have been born had she been able to forgive.