Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Forgiving Myself

Some of you reading this may wonder why was I taking all the blame. He had the affair. He left. Biblically I was innocent. But I didn't feel innocent. I knew I had disobeyed. For months God had been trying to open my eyes and I was refusing to see what was in front of me. That is what I needed forgiveness for. I needed forgiveness for disobeying God. I needed forgiveness for my actions toward my family, toward my son, and yes, toward my husband. I could not control the choices he made,  his reactions to what I said and did. All I could control was myself. It took some time for me to learn that, but God was patient and gentle with me as he rebuilt my self-esteem. 

I had to forgive myself. I was not going to heal any other way. I was full of regret, full of anger. I kept asking myself why? Why had I not seen evidence of an affair before? Why had I been so selfish, especially that Valentine's Saturday? Why had I not listened to God and bought that book? So that was where I started. I bought a copy of The Love Dare. It didn't matter to me that my husband was no longer living in the house.
I was going to be obedient.

I bought the book, began to read it, and my new life began.

First, it convicted me to my selfishness. I saw myself acting as a child, always wanting my dreams to come true, my desires to be fulfilled. It didn't matter if anyone else got anything as long as I got what I wanted. I was 39 years old. Why was I acting like that? And I realized that I had shut people out of my life. My entire immediate family had done that for many years. The house was messy. We were hoarding cats. We were disorganized. But we had actually begun to turn our lives around, I had thought.

The fall of 2010, when I believe I was starting to wake up, we'd been making some changes. We'd made a difficult decision to give up most of our cats. We knew that there had to be a choice made - us or them. We
could no longer continue caring for ourselves and our pets. We prayed over them and took them to the animal shelter. It was one of the hardest things we'd done. But it was a step towards taking our lives back. As much as we loved them, we could not keep living that way.

We'd started to clean up the house and organize better. It was still crowded, still cluttered. It was a small rental and didn't have a very good layout. But we made it work. So change was happening in a small
way. I had no idea that the world would blow up. But as the small changes grew, it seemed bigger changes were needed to get things truly moving.

So my marriage ended and I was betrayed. I was feeling sorry for myself. And I allowed myself to hurt. Those who have been studying the Law of Attraction for a while would call this despair on the emotional guidance scale. I was at the bottom of that scale. All I could do was work my way up to feeling better.

So I started taking melatonin to help me sleep. I participated at church events and attended a Divorce Care group. I did a second job working from home.

And I read The Love Dare. I started doing the exercises. My eyes opened and it was like God had slapped me upside the head. I apologized to my son. I called my grandmother just to chat. In the past I'd tried to avoid her because I didn't want MY time to be wasted in talking about idle chitchat. I swear she cried when she hung up the phone because all I did was let her talk about herself. Nothing about me, what I was going
through. Just her. And it felt good.

I called my mother-in-law. We had a very honest conversation. I had believed for over 20 years that she hadn't liked me, that I wasn't good enough for her son. We had both been living under a lie for so long. That's the trouble with rumors. You let them grow and soon there is no truth left. 

God was working on me and I was coming to understand myself. I had to take responsibility for my actions. Yes, my husband had hurt me. Yes, I had every right, biblically, to a divorce. I had the right to be angry and upset. But I realized God doesn't see levels of sin. I had sinned, I had disobeyed, and I had to deal with the consequences to MY behavior. But God didn't deal with me in a cruel or unkind way. As I read The
Love Dare I realized that it could apply to relationships of all kinds. I applied it to a relationship with my son. I applied it to my parents. I applied it to my grandparents. I applied it to my brothers. I applied it as much as possible to my ex husband. And over time I applied it to myself.

God sent me many little things along this path to show me that he loved me and that he cared for me, despite my disobedience. I didn't feel worthy of forgiveness. Here are some things he shared:

From Nora Roberts' novel Ever After - (heroine is looking at a lovely necklace in Ireland).
"How much is it?" she asked. "Ten pounds," was the answer. "Oh, it's so lovely. It must be worth so much more," she said. "It is, but then so are you."

I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5

I will restore to you the years the locust has eaten. Joel 2:25

There were more. I felt loved and comforted, especially at 3:00 am when I couldn't call my mother and wake her yet again. But God was always there. We talked about a lot of things and I never had to worry about waking him up. I let out all my anger, my hurt, my frustration, my desires, all my lost dreams, all the things I missed so much. I gave my ex husband up to him many times. I was finally understanding that I could only control myself, my thoughts and actions. And I understood, finally, that God loved me unconditionally. 

Remember that these verses and thoughts apply to you as well. You are worthy. You are loved. No matter what you've done, you are worthy of forgiveness. As a creation of God, as his child, you are worthy. You don't have to do anything to earn forgiveness. You just need to ask for it.

The leader of the women's group at church played this song for us one night and it touched me in a way no other song has done in a long time. It still means a lot to me. As it played, I sat and cried. I knew without a doubt it was God telling me that he was there and that he loved me.

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