Is there anyone out there without some level of pain in their soul? I know the pain of missing my children, who have been torn from me by a hateful and unforgiving mother I divorced nearly a quarter of a century ago. I visited the children every weekend for the first couple of years (I lived a 1 1/2 hour drive away, if there was no NY traffic. And there’s no such thing as “no traffic” when talking about New York City), took them to the beach, to parks, to movies. I spent money I didn’t have at first, and when I did have money, I spent more of it on them. I did all I could to teach them to be self-aware, considerate and able to get along with others. It was all against what their mother had taught them, which was that they are the center of everything, they are just children so they aren’t responsible for themselves; if they have a reason ‘why’ that is a valid excuse so they don’t have to be responsible for what they do, don’t do, say or don’t say. And as soon as they reached majority, even though we still sent them money, they decided that they didn’t need to have me in their lives anymore. I was treating them as adults, not excusing them, and trying to get them to see how what they had been taught would make them outcasts. So I became the outcast.
It hurts. It has been nearly 4 years since my son disowned me, and about 7 for my daughter. She will be 29 next month, and he will be 24 in October. I still send them birthday cards, remind them how much I miss them and still love them, and ask for reconciliation. At whatever level they are comfortable with. I don’t know what is going on in their lives, and what really kills me is that I know, without a doubt, that if (God forbid) something serious happened, or even if they died, their mother wouldn’t even tell me.
That’s my biggest hurt, and it is a big one, isn’t it? Yet I go on. I don’t mope, I don’t complain (well, not nearly as much as I used to) and I tell you this now only to demonstrate that there is hope for those who have this kind of hurt.
It is the hope we have in Messiah, the knowledge that God loves everyone, and in the power of prayer.
I pray for my children, and I pray for their mother. Yes, I do, and I mean it, which surprised me more than anyone when I started doing it. That is the aspirin for our soul- forgiveness. The pain of being hurt is never going to go away if we review it, rehearse what we want to say to the person who has hurt us, and refuse to accept that they must be hurting, inside, even more than they hurt us to do such a terrible thing. That’s what really got me on the right track- when I thought about the pain she was going through, the hurt, the feeling of desertion and rejection, which is what I was doing. Yes- I was leaving her. I had many, many good reasons for doing that, and even though I was no longer in love with her, I still waited for two years before divorcing her, legally. That was time for her to do T’shuvah, to turn from her prideful hatred and decide which was more important- the marriage or her pridefulness.
We all know what decision she made.
So, what did I have left except the pain? I had more pain to come- constant berating by her every time I visited, my children repeating the foul accusations she made against me and my parents to my face when I was with them, and many other atrocities.
I am so grateful to God and the Ruach HaKodesh for teaching me that the only way to overcome the pain of this situation was to pray for them and forgive them, only after doing that could I ask His forgiveness for them.
Oh, now- don’t get the wrong idea. This wasn’t something that came to me right away: it took years and years for me to get to the point where I didn’t talk about it all the time to anyone unfortunate enough to be within earshot. Then it took years after I was saved for me to realize that forgiveness was the only way to relieve the pain. The pain persists, so long as the reason for it persists, but forgiveness and prayer is how I deaden and dull the pain. It is my hope for the future and my trust in God to do all He will to help turn my children back to me (although I know that it has to be their decision), and when I think of the pain and suffering that her hatefulness has caused her, all her life, I can’t help but feel pity for my “ex”. No matter how much she has hurt me, I have God and the promise of eternal joy to look forward to. When I think of what she has to look forward to, how can I not pity her and pray for her salvation?
Even Ebeneezer Scrooge would have removed some of the chain that Jacob Marley had to wear, if he could have.
Forgiveness is the only way to stop the pain that we have when someone hurts us.
Proverbs tells us to feed and give water to our enemies, David showed respect and forgiveness to King Saul, sparing his life even though he was trying to take David’s; Yeshua tells us to leave our gift at the alter if there is any animosity between us and someone else, and also that we should love our enemies.
And Yeshua also tells us, in Matthew 6:14-15, that if we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. That’s a hard word to hear, but it is essential we understand it. Forgiveness has nothing to do, really, with the person we forgive, and everything to do with our relationship with God. When anyone sins it is, first and foremost, a sin against God. David knew that and says so in Psalm 51. The person who sins against another is sinning against God. That needs to be worked out between them, and nothing we do will make much of a difference. God will not forgive them if they do not ask for it, no matter how often we ask for it.
So, then ,why should we ask for their forgiveness? Because it is important to maintain our proper relationship with God, that’s why. Because we need to forgive them to stop the pain, that’s why. Because we are commanded to forgive, that’s why!
To err is human; to forgive, divine. That is a truth that is not written in the bible, but is exactly what the bible teaches us.
We all have some pain- how can we possibly avoid it living in a cursed world? So what? Pain is part of life: for a headache we take aspirin, for a backache we take Ibuprofen, and for the heartache of being sinned against, we take a daily dose of prayer with a glassful of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is aspirin for your soul, and prayer is the way to administer it. Pray for those who hate you, forgive those who sin against you, and you will survive the pain.
And besides that, you will please God, who will bless you for your obedience.
That’s a pretty good remedy: you forgive, which relieves the pain, and then you receive blessings from God.