Forgiveness and Evil
“It really was that bad. It really was wrong.”
Forgiving does not mean we take the edge off the evil of what was done to us. Wrong is wrong.
Ann's choice to have an affair was wrong. It was sin. Owning that evil helped me out in several ways.
First, naming her sin helped me to own my own sin and evil in the relationship. I made calls to another woman that I concealed. I emailed the words “I love you” and wrote an occasional card to another woman that I concealed from Ann. Even though I had become sober I was able to own how difficult my drinking made the early years of our relationship. Owning 'the wrong' of her actions also helped me to more fully own the subtle self-centeredness I battle with every day.
More so, calling her affair wrong gave me permission to explore how her choice to have an affair was understandable. I saw her good desires for affection and fun, her family history of sexual sin, her history of sexual abuse, the ways I hurt her heart and how all that set the stage for the affair. Her story didn't make her choices less evil; it made her choices understandable. When a choice becomes understandable, it becomes more easily forgivable.
Finally, it helped to deepen the meaning of my forgiveness. Because we didn’t smooth things over and minimize the evil in her deception, we both experienced freedom when I forgave. Though it was really THAT bad, God's grace for each of us is really THAT big; and we are able to pass it on to one another.
My eyes were opened. Understanding me as betrayed and she as betrayer applied to just one aspect of our marriage. Ann lied to me and cheated on me. But in other areas of our marriage, I was the betrayer. As I explored Ann’s story I saw beyond my pain to who she was as a wounded daughter of God. Neither of us had any idea how much our past wounds influenced our present relationship and choices.
When it came to a deep, sincere forgiveness of the wounds she caused me, I looked Evil square in the face. I told Evil that he doesn’t get the last word in my marriage. I forgave Ann for the wounds and pain she caused me. Chains clanked to the ground and we were both set free.