Who Would You Give a Second Chance To?
When this topic came up, I could not relate to it and after several days of brainstorming on the topic, I still can not.
I have no problem giving second chances; so much so that I kept “working on my marriage” when my husband was living with another woman. We were going to counseling and regularly communicating, and God showed me how deeply conflicted he was and that it was going to take time for him to sort it all out. We were in a fine mess, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I know what you’re thinking though, trust me. I have heard it all before. As my sister recently put it, when we were discussing this very subject, “you’re just weird, Lindsey”. Yeah, I know. I get it. And she’s right. I’m Weird. It’s a fact I’m now proud of, but considering that he ultimately chose her and she and her children now live in my house with my husband and my dog, I assure you that I have had to learn about forgiveness and second chances the hard way so forgive me if this post gets a little preachy.
I believe Jesus is the king of second chances. And I believe we should seek to forgive as wholeheartedly as we look out for number one. But it’s not easy and we live in a world that seeks ease over truth, so how do we do it?
The first thing we have to do is get over our “feelings”. Joyce Meyer writes, “The daily ups and downs of our emotions are one of the major struggles we have with our relationships. Instead of riding the emotional roller coaster, we need to become stable, solid, steadfast, persevering and determined people. If we continue to let our emotions rule over us, there’s no way we’ will ever be the person we were meant to be. Of course, none of us will ever be totally rid of emotions, but we must learn to manage and control them—not let them control us.”
This requires us to step back and take a look at the situation from 30,000 feet rather than the 1,000 foot view we normally have of our own lives. Looking specifically for what God MAY be doing in the situation, rather than focusing on our feelings about the situation.
The 1,000 foot level of the demise of my marriage, was that my husband had an affair and my heart and world had been shattered into a million little pieces. The 30,000 foot view was that my husbands heart had been broken long before I had come into the picture and the devil was taking advantage of it. We were at war against the devil and when I saw it from this view, I wanted more than anything for God to prevail and was willing to do whatever it took for us to win the battle.
What kept me going during that time, was the knowledge that it wasn’t about me. The turmoil, the conflict, the living hell we were living through was about the war that the devil had engaged in my husbands heart, not about another woman. And despite my feelings, what was most important was that God be the ultimate victor in the fight. Not the fact that I had been wronged (which the world was certainly telling me) . And in God’s good way, he showed me that and taught me how to deal with it.
Somehow or another, I recognized that the only way that God would be able to win this war, was through loving forgiveness. My Catholic husbands heart had never really known forgiveness, and I knew in my heart more than anything, was that if he was EVER to know the forgiveness of the Lord, which he so desperately needed and desired, that he had to know my forgiveness first.
“At that point, Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me?
Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly! Try seventy times seven.”
Matthew 18-21 The Msg
So time and time again, 70 x 7, I forgave.
Was it easy? Hell no. But was it the right thing to do? Hell yes!
And I am glad that I did it, because to this day, my ex-husband knows that I love and adore him, just as Jesus loves and adores him regardless of his behavior. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and the greatest gift I have ever received all at the same time, because now I know I am as capable of giving grace as I am at receiving it, and for some twisted reason, I feel more deserving of grace, even though I know that isn’t what grace is about at all.
When I’m knee deep in hurt, I recall the prayer the Lord taught me to pray, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us“, remembering that I am just as guilty of a sinful nature as everyone else on the planet, and if I want forgiveness from God for things I do wrong, I sure as hell better be willing to give it.
If I am really struggling to let go of something, conjuring the visual image of Jesus on the cross, hands bloody and back breaking, saying “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”, often gets me over the hump. Because honestly, isn’t that normally what it is? The offender is so lost in themselves that they do not know what they do. They can’t see beyond their own 1,000 foot level to the recognize the pain their actions are causing to those around them.
We aren’t perfect. We are flawed in most every way possible. We weren’t created to be perfect, although our culture expects that of us. Yet we expect that of others, when all God cares about is the condition of heart, whether it’s soft and mushy towards him, or hardened and closed off to him. And while our marriage ultimately didn’t survive, I believe we won the war, because both of our hearts are more open to the love, forgiveness and grace that God continues to shower upon us.
Love always wins.