I Am Forgiven

My husband has truly forgiven me for the years of sexual control, gatekeeping, and refusing.

So why can’t I seem to forgive myself?

I frequently apologize to him. Each time, he reminds me that I am forgiven and that he loves me.

This morning, I was responding online to someone whose wife is eerily similar to the way I was. In order to respond, I had to dig back into the refusing version of myself, remembering how it felt to say “no” and all the feelings and physical sensations I connected with that. After I wrote my response, I went to my husband to apologize, again, for having been the wife I was.

This time, after he reminded me that I am forgiven and loved, he asked me not to apologize again. He said that it is selfish for me to keep focusing on the sin of the past and ask him to go back there with me. And then he asked me why I haven’t forgiven myself.

As far as I’ve come, and as much as I know that I have truly transformed my wifely self, it isn’t easy to know that I still have work to do. But I guess that’s sort of like being washed and new in the blood of Christ. Christ offers. I still need to accept.

Being forgiven is one thing. Accepting that forgiveness seems to be another. Once again, I see Christ in my husband. I am blessed.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

7 Comments on “I Am Forgiven”

  1. I think of the parable of the Prodigal Son (or, as Tim Keller suggests, the Prodigal Father). I imagine the prodigal son, after the welcome home banquet, would probably have felt the need to apologize again from time to time. And the father would have let him, and would have appreciated it, and would have assured him each time that it wasn’t necessary and that his forgiveness was real. But maybe after a few times he would have told the son something similar to what your husband told you. Perhaps at some point the repentant one is (unintentionally) calling into question the character of the forgiving one — it begins to feel to the forgiving one that the repentant one is implying, “I’m not sure I can believe you that you’ve forgiven me. You need to tell/show me again.”

    Perhaps this will help Forgiven Wife be reassured of her husband’s forgiveness: One time, about 6 years before our divorce, my ex-wife angrily accused me of intentionally doing something outrageously underhanded that I had not done. It was a final straw type of moment, and I shut down and withdrew. When she later asked me why I was withdrawn, I told her, and I told her she owed me an apology. After an extended period (perhaps a week or two?), she apologized for saying it and said she didn’t believe I had done what she’d accused me of. I forgave her and the temperature of our relationship changed immediately. At which point, *she* got upset. At our next counseling session, she told the counselor that she thought I was being manipulative — that I couldn’t have been as upset as I professed to have been because it was “so easy” for me to let it go once she apologized. The counselor walked her through it: “He told you he was mad because you’d wrongly accused him, right?” “Yes.” “He told you that he wanted an apology, right?” “Yes.” “And you eventually apologized, right?” “Yes.” “And then he wasn’t mad any more, right?” “Yes.” “Sounds like he meant what he said.”

    Forgiven Wife, I’m pretty sure I would have responded very much like your husband if my ex-wife had ever been repentant about her sexual refusal. I would have joyfully forgiven her, worked hard never to hold it against her in the future, and worked hard to extend grace during the climb out of the pit. My friend Peaceful Wife has often noted her husband’s ability to forgive quickly and freely, and she thinks it’s a guy thing. As a guy, it would be self-serving of me to say that, but I’ll take her word for it.

    So rest in your husband’s forgiveness, and believe it. And even if someday he makes the mistake of reminding you of your past behavior (I hope he doesn’t, and so does he, but he’s not perfect), he will owe you an apology and, when you point that out to him, I expect he’ll quickly agree with you and give it to you.

    1. A few week after I wrote this post, I wrote Prodigal Wives. One of many things I’ve learned about my husband is that he means what he says. Because I am not always like that (on my list of things to work on), it was outside my understanding that my husband could truly be like that. In the handful of months since I’ve written that post, I’ve come to realize that I have not completely forgiven myself–but I’ve seen some signs that it is happening. I do know that I have my husband’s complete forgiveness. He has not mentioned my past behavior other than when we recognize that he does something rooted in a pattern that developed during that time. His forgiveness is a living illustration of living in Christ’s word.

    2. Excellent teaching David J. It’s her insecurities that kept her asking. I suspect Chris couldn’t see how her husband could so easily forgive her after so long because she wasn’t able to forgive herself. Speaking to the wives now, this is something that really annoys men: It is a man thing that when it really counts and the chips are down, you say what you mean and mean what you say. Your word is your bond. This is one of the reasons why men will become irritated when you keep revisiting an issue after they feel they have resolved it. “I gave you an answer when you last asked. Do you think I would lie to you or not know my own mind? I’ve said my piece and haven’t changed my mind. I really don’t mind if we have left-over’s tonight.” The one expectation to this is when we give a cursory answer to stop discussion. Most of us prefer to “render our opinion” after thinking about something first while women are more inclined to begin an open dialog on the spot to seek immediate resolution. Men can and will make quick decisions in any number of circumstances. A football or basketball game will prove that. When it comes to holding forth on relationship issues though, then we like to take the slow-cooker approach as opposed to the microwave.

Leave a Reply!