Forgiveness Part 2

Kelly Clarkson–inspiring post-break-up women everywhere since 2002

Yesterday, I began to share a few thoughts on unforgiveness and today I thought I’d share a little bit about dealing with unforgiveness when it comes to guys.

Ladies, here’s the thing: it is SO easy to harbor bitterness and unforgiveness towards boys, because, let’s face it, they do so many stupid things.  And after that, it’s difficult to move forward and we end up loving to hate them.

When it comes to boys, it’s easy to put ourselves in positions where we’re vulnerable and exposed, so if/when the hurting comes, it feels raw, deep, and incredibly painful, making forgiveness beyond difficult.

I had one relationship, in particular, where even after it ended, I struggled for an extremely long time to let go of the unforgiveness in my heart.  Years later,  I have a much better understanding of the situation, but at the time, my little twenty-something heart felt as though I had been robbed, manipulated, and strung along for years.  I had expectations for where I thought things were going and when it didn’t work out the way I always thought it would, I was hurt, sad, and so mad that I had wasted so many years of my heart on a stupid boy.  In my mind he had gotten “the best years of my life” although little did I know, thankfully, those “best years” had yet to be lived…

Anyways, once things ended, surprisingly, it didn’t take long for my romantic feelings to end as well.  But what I found was that my massive infatuation quickly evolved into hatred, resentment, and unforgiveness.  My heart was hard and bitter and angry break-up songs like “Since You’ve Been Gone,” “You Oughta Know,” and my favorite, Mariah Carey’s “Someday,” were my new best friends.

He even apologized to me and I looked him in the eyes and told him that I had forgiven him, but deep down, I think we both knew that I was lying.   

Two years later (yes, I’m beyond embarrassed this little story has to last two years), I was at a women’s retreat in Williamsburg.  I don’t remember anything the speaker said, except on the first night she told the story of learning that her husband of over twenty years had cheated on her.  Talk about betrayal!  But rather than scream, seek revenge upon his mistress, or shred all of his clothes to tiny pieces, she said the first thing she did was she knelt by her bed and prayed, “Lord, I want to forgive my husband.  I pray right now that the unforgiveness and hatred I feel will not take root in my heart.  I forgive him.”

 Are you kidding me?!  I truly couldn’t believe it.

I remember sitting towards the back of the room, so struck by her desperation to instantly forgive, before it had time to take root in her heart.  I sat there thinking, “This woman was ready and willing to forgive her husband, the one who vowed that he would love her and be faithful to her alone, the one who cheated on her, the one who was walking out on her, and I can’t even forgive and let go of stupid, petty boy problems from two years ago?”

I knew it was time to let it go.

My unforgiveness was only hurting myself, and it was holding me back, when I knew it was time to move forward.  About a week later, he came over and I looked him in the eye and I said something like, “Okay, so, I know this was a while ago, and I’ve been over you for a long time (my insecure heart just had to throw that in there), but when I told you I forgave you, I was lying.  Deep down, I have hated you for two years, but I’m finally in a place where I’m ready to forgive you, and this time I mean it.”

Similar to yesterday, when he left, I felt the weight of this burden, I had been carrying around for years FINALLY be lifted off of my heart.  I was free!  And I truly meant what I said.

Months later, I found myself at a bar with another girl who had been hurt by him as well.  As we continued to talk, all she wanted to do was complain about this stupid boy and band together because we had both been so wronged.  Before I had forgiven, I’m sure I would have been more than happy to exchange stories, and moan and wail about how horrible he was as the drinks kept flowing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good boy-bashing session as much as the next girl, but when it came to this relationship,  somewhat to my shock, I realized that I wasn’t that girl anymore.

I remember being able to get a glimpse of what it looked like to still hold onto the hurt and bitterness, and I felt incredibly relieved to know that I finally wasn’t in that place.  I was free!  Thank you Lord!

A few more thoughts on forgiveness:

  • Bringing baggage of unforgiveness from an old relationship into a new one is NOT a sexy way to try to start–I promise!
  • Lots of times, we hold onto bitterness from old relationships because we think in some way it’s hurting them, but usually, they have no idea.  In fact, most of the time, they’ve already moved on to someone else.  It turns out that rather than hurting them, we’re only hurting and hindering ourselves.  My mom likes to say, “Unforgiveness is like eating poison and waiting for the other person to die.”  
  • Sometimes forgiveness can be instantaneous, and other times it’s a process.  It’s okay if it needs to be a process.  
  • I don’t know about you, but when it comes to forgiveness, I can’t do it on my own.  Thankfully, we have a God who can listen to us as we walk through the process and equip us with the strength to forgive.  One of my favorite prayers is this, “God, I want to forgive, but it’s SO hard.  Help me!”