I thought I would never forgive
Deborah Lee // May 22, 2019, 11:56 am
When I got married and moved in with my husband’s family, there were many conflicts.
I was immature and hot-tempered, and exchanged many harsh words with my in-laws. I continued to anger my in-laws for days after heated quarrels and eventually my mother-in-law called me a “nobody’s child”, emphasising how unwanted, unloved and unwelcome I was.
After a year of this — my husband often siding with his parents — I left the house on a bad note. My departure was supposed to mark an end to the verbal abuse I had suffered. However, I carried with me a lot of anger and hurt that had been accumulating since the day I got married and left my parents’ home to stay with my in-laws, all the way to the day I was called a “nobody’s child”.
The insults left a deep wound in my heart. In my darkest moments, I even wished misfortune upon my husband’s family.
During this time, I stayed with a church friend.
My pastor and mentor continued to follow up with me concerning my family struggles, and they constantly urged me to bring them before God. In the quiet home where I now was, I began searching through God’s Word. The more I searched, the more I was captivated by God’s promises for us during bad times: He keeps track of my tears (Psalm 56:8); His plans for me are good.
In those times of desperation where I felt extremely vulnerable, God’s assurance of my future held me close to Him. Through His Word, God continually led me to a place of repentance and surrender.
But I still struggled internally. Even though I was no longer staying with my husband’s family, phone calls with my husband triggered memories and anger again. My husband continued to side with his parents and insisted that I owed them an apology. It felt like everyone accused me of being the problem.
GOD IS MY DEFENDER
Through all this, I wrestled with God. I kept telling Him, “It’s not fair that I have to go through all this. I did not marry to be bullied. Everyone has a defender except for me. Who will hear me? Why can’t I just escape it all?” I wished that I had a different battle, something I could either manage or escape. But we don’t always get to choose our battles.
As I wrestled with God, I was reminded of Romans 8:31-32: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
If God is for us, who can be against us?
As I read those words in the Bible, I felt God speaking to me, assuring me that He is with me and would give me the strength I needed to overcome this situation. As I continued reading verses 34 and 35, I was reminded that there is no condemnation in Christ, and nothing can separate us from God’s love.
I began to see that God was not being unfair and I sensed that He was indeed with me. Even if everyone in the world were to condemn me, because of Christ’s sacrifice, God does not condemn me. Nothing can separate me from God’s love.
As I leaned into the words in Romans 8, I began to see my situation in a different light. I saw the purpose in my hurt. Through my hurt, I experienced God’s assurance and comfort. Even if I was condemned by people around me, I found hope in God. God used these events to show me His love. If I had not been hurt by men, I would not have turned to God. God in His faithfulness drew me back to Him and showed me His blessings. I could not deny God’s sovereignty throughout these events.
While Romans 8 comforted me, Matthew 7:3-5 convicted me.
In this passage, Jesus reminds us to get rid of the plank in our own eye before accusing others of the speck in their eyes. These verses spoke to the heart of my situation. If I were to say that I was not at fault, I would obviously be lying to myself.
I shouted at my in-laws instead of showing them respect. I was rude to them, and that was not pleasing to God either. These verses reminded me that, all along, I had been pointing fingers at others without paying attention to the plank in my own eye.
I owed my husband’s family an apology.
I knew I needed to repent. But truth be told, it was hard for me to do so when neither my husband nor his family showed any remorse for their actions against me. They continued to insist that they were not at fault. Surely, it wouldn’t be fair if I pretended like nothing had happened and allowed them to continue to bully me.
FREED TO FORGIVE
Over time, God encouraged me and renewed my mind. As I continued reading the Bible, I increasingly realised that I was God’s precious child, not a defenceless “nobody’s child”.
In my broken moments, I learned to anchor myself in God. I no longer needed to walk in the brokenness of unfairness, anger and despair. Instead, I could see my situation through God’s eyes — filled with hope and purpose. I was determined not to fall back into my old self, enslaved to self-pity and hopelessness.
When I first tried apologising to my in-laws, they remained aloof and continued to hurl words of insult and condemnation. But I held on to the promises that God had given me and persevered. And through a long period of endurance and patience, my husband and his family eventually softened their hearts and accepted me as family once again.
This process involved a lot of self-denial, heartache and pain, but God showed me that we should overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). The famous words of Martin Luther King Jr. resonate with me: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” The only way to experience forgiveness and release it to others is to first experience the love of God for ourselves.
Our reconciliation eventually moved my husband to purchase a new home with me, and we had the blessing of my in-laws to live as a married couple. But more important to me than even this reconciliation is realising that having God in my life is the greatest good, especially in the face of conflicts or trials. None of this would have been possible if not for God’s love for me, compelling me to live a life worthy of Him and radiate His love to others. Nothing surpasses the worth of knowing God.
As I see the goodness of God working in my life to redeem me from the darkness, forgiveness is made easier.
This article was originally published on YMI.today and is republished with permission.
THINK + TALK
- Is there resentment or bitterness in your heart?
- Is there someone you need to forgive?
- Knowing how much God loves you, and how He has forgiven you, will you forgive yourself and others?