being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
Never Beyond: On Forgiving the Ex-Boyfriend
Today’s post is a continuation of the beginning of the Never Beyond series inspired and encouraged by People of the Second Chance.
Yesterday I wrote about Casey Anthony and Forgiving absent parents. If you missed it, click here to read it.
This post is a response to the Never Beyond poster series from People of the Second Chance. The question: Who would you forgive?
All week I’m posting on grace, forgiveness, and second chances.
There’s this guy I dated. A long time ago. Before my husband. Before I was really a woman. Before everything changed.
I think that he liked me. Before I got all crazy girlfriend-ish.
He may have even loved me a little bit. I’m just not sure that it was the right kind of love.
And he took a lot from me. He only took it, though, because I gave it.
The kicker is that about three months into the relationship, I knew it wasn’t right. I knew in my heart of hearts that he wasn’t for me. Forget the whole “The One” thing. We just were not supposed to be together. Period.
But I thought I could change things. I basically told God that he didn’t know what he was talking about and I was going to do what I was going to do. That was my first act of disobedience.
Then a few months later, I felt him slipping away. And I really, really liked this guy. And I really, really wanted him to like me back.
So, I gave him the one thing I hadn’t given him yet.
I gave him all of me. More disobedience.
He stuck around for awhile. Because it was easy to get what he wanted.
We had a few good times, we had a few bad times. We argued a lot. We were on-again-off-again for awhile. I’d always initiate a break up because it was my way of seeing how serious he was. But we’d always get back together.
Because I had given him all of me, because I had led myself to believe that I was going to marry him (whether he wanted to marry me or not), I expected that he give all of himself to me too. I started to get insanely jealous. I was jealous of his friends. I was jealous of his time. I was jealous of everything that he was ever involved with. The disobedience continued.
But, eventually, he got bored. Eventually, my jealousy was too much drama for him. Eventually, he decided that I wasn’t enough.
One day, he dropped me. He told me that he didn’t love me anymore. He let me go.
I was devastated. I was disappointed in myself. I was ashamed.
I still remember sitting on the floor sobbing. I don’t think I was sobbing for having lost him. I think I was sobbing for having lost myself. For having let myself go so far off the path I knew to be right to pursue a lie.
I felt like a shattered mirror, like I couldn’t even recognize myself in the broken shards of glass; the reflection was not who I ever expected or wanted to be.
It was my first rock-bottom.
It was the first time I realized that in my own strength, I have NOTHING to offer God.
It was the first time I realized that a broken heart and contrite spirit were the ONLY offerings I could bring.
It was the first time I had to truly forgive someone who hurt me deeply.
It hurt for a very long time. In some ways, I’ll always be wounded from that relationship. But I forgave him.
Fast Forward 15+ years later. I’m such a different person from the girl sitting on the floor sobbing for her lost identity.
It’s amazing to see what God does when you bring sin to light.
Grace is so peculiar like that.
One of my favorite passages is John 3:19-21:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
When we come out from behind the shadows, from the darkness that is so inherently our nature, when we are honest with ourselves and each other about our sin, amazing things happen.
We learn that we’re not alone. We realize that we’re pretty much all alike, that without Christ’s work on the cross, we are nothing.
When we come into the light, when we embrace truth, we can start to heal. We can start to love. We can start to forgive each other.
I still try to hide in the shadows every once in awhile. It’s where I was born and it’s difficult to shake off the old.
But being Christ’s means I’m always being pulled back into the light. The truth about me becomes quite obvious.
I don’t have it together. I’ve made many, many mistakes. I don’t love like I’m supposed to. I hold onto grudges. I’m prideful, judgmental, and arrogant. I lie and cheat. I don’t honor my parents like I should. I envy my fellow man almost every day. I am a complete and utter failure.
But I belong to Christ. And gosh darnit, he’s going to keep working on me. He’s going to keep pulling me out into the light.
In the light, my imperfections are quite apparent. But, just like a lump of clay on the potter’s wheel, he molds and shapes and makes me into vessel of his love and mercy and grace.
Day by day I’m learning to be more comfortable in the light. I’m learning that imperfections = beauty, when they are held in God’s hands.