How to Forgive

When the one you love most on the face of the earth, the one who has promised to live with you in the good and the bad times, the one for whom you have forsaken all others hurts you so deeply that you wonder if you can ever breathe again, how do you forgive?

Well, you can paste on your Christian smile and say, “I forgive” without ever dealing with the pain. Or you can wait until you feel like forgiving (once the pain is gone). Or you can ask God to miraculously change your heart and make you want to forgive. Or you can pray that your spouse will repent and ask you for forgiveness. Or you can simply be so immobilized by the pain that you can’t do anything.


Once again it’s time for honesty first. Sometimes Christians are afraid to admit negative feelings, especially anger. I’ve talked with people who have said that they didn’t have any problem and were able to forgive their spouse right away. It sounds so good and I sure wish I could have done that, but forgiveness did not come easy for me.

At first I was devastated and so filled with pain I could hardly think. Then as the pain subsided, anger took its place. I was furious when I realized how I had been lied to and betrayed. I was angry that I was so helpless. I felt victimized and there was nothing I could do about it. And my husband was doing all kinds of things to get rid of me and all those things just made me angrier.

On top of all that, I felt like a terrible Christian because I was so angry. Instead of running to the Lord, I found myself avoiding Him because my heart was so filled with yuck. How silly we are sometimes. He knows me better than I know myself. I don’t know what I thought I was keeping from Him.

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I just got honest with Jesus. I poured out my pain and my anger. I argued scripture and heart motives and asked Him a thousand questions. Somewhere in all of that I began to learn to rest in Him. It wasn’t quick and it wasn’t easy, but when it finally began, I felt a huge burden lift from my shoulders.

I realized that Jesus was not judging me and I was not disappointing Him. He knew my heart and every rotten little thought I ever had, and He loved me anyway. Jesus has a wonderful way of accepting us just where we are and yet encouraging us to move on. Never condemning, just always encouraging us on to higher ground.

Somewhere along the way He began to encourage me to forgive. It wasn’t a demand; it was more of an opportunity. When we’re honest with Him, He can be honest with us. The more I walked with Him, the more I wanted to be like Him. I knew that He had been tempted in every way as we are and He had chosen to love and to forgive. I knew that because He lived within me, it was possible for me to do the same. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to. It was so much easier to pull out the list of wrongs and make demands about them.

You know Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” It is the love and compassion of God that brings us close to Him. Jesus had compassion on Jerusalem and wept. God’s compassion is overwhelming and when we are willing to let Him touch us with that compassion, we not only realize we must forgive, but we begin to learn how to do it.

God touched me with compassion for my husband. My eyes saw his sin and my ears heard his hateful words, but God’s compassion showed me his heart. God’s compassion overwhelmed my heart and I stopped weeping for myself and I wept for my husband. No matter what I was facing, I had life in Jesus. Nothing could separate me from the love of Christ (Romans 8:39). But my husband was walking in darkness. He had chosen to follow the enemy and was trapped in the enemy’s snare. No one else on earth could pray for him like I could because God had made us one. I could either choose to recount what had happened to me or I could choose to become Michael’s chief intercessor. When God’s love and compassion overwhelm your heart, the choice is obvious.

I know that as the Lord began to lead me and guide me in the days that followed, the enemy must have regretted that he ever messed with us. I know I might never have prayed for my husband with the heart-felt compassion I did unless the enemy had taken him captive. I know my own heart might never have sought the depth of transformation I hungered for if I had not been faced with the crisis of our marriage.

Embrace the Lord today! He has so much for you and for your spouse. Don’t let the enemy convince you that he is greater than the One within you. I made a decision one day that no demon was going to come into my home and dictate to me what was going to happen to our marriage and family. They are a defeated foe and they don’t have the right to decide what happens to us. You are bought with a price and the One to whom you belong has greater plans for you than you can imagine. Love, Marilyn

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” 1 Corinthians 8:1

Author: Marilyn Phillipps

Married 49 years, we have three children and six grandchildren. My initial career of nursing prepared me to work with marriages that are wounded and in need of healing. For 35 my husband and I have led 2=1 International, a ministry to marriages and families around the world. We have seen miracle after miracle when many had given up hope.

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