My former spouse made choices that unfortunately impact the lives of my children to this day. It is because of these choices that we cannot have “normal” experiences. There are huge barriers for us complicating what should be everyday tasks. Things that others can take care of in 30 minutes take my children weeks and sometimes months if the government has to be involved to address the barriers. I have to keep forgiving my former spouse every time one of these incidents arises as the enemy works hard to fill me with resentment. I can now understand when Jesus says to forgive someone “seventy times seven.”
“Then Peter came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him, up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you, not seven times but seventy times seven!'”
Matthew 18:21 – 22 NLV
When I first read these verses, I thought, “That is a lot of forgiveness for one person, and why would I be such a ‘welcome mat’ to allow that person to keep sinning against me?” The Lord has since shown me that forgiveness may not be one specific moment in time and then it is done. The enemy will continue to try to bring up what has been done to us to cause us to retreat to places of unforgiveness. We must take those thoughts captive.
Forgiving someone does not mean condoning or agreeing with the behavior. Forgiving means shedding our chains of resentment versus carrying them around when we do not forgive. I need to forgive my former spouse literally every day and sometimes multiple times a day. As a result, I have forgiven him hundreds of times. For clarity, I have taken every step necessary to protect myself and my children from further harm; Jesus does not condone anyone repeatedly hurting anyone.
If constantly forgiving those who hurt us is not enough, we have an enemy who knows exactly how to attack us. Recently, I lied because I felt like I had to protect my child from my former spouse. Lies are a sin, and all sin is a statement to God indicating, “I do not trust You to make this work.” In the moment, I thought the lie was the best way to protect my child. After the lie occurred, I confessed it to God and thought about why I lied. One thought was that if my former spouse had not done the things he did, I would not have had to lie. But that thought is, in fact, another lie. It is irrelevant what my former spouse did; God is capable and powerful enough to protect my child from anything. And I did not “have” to lie. None of us “have” to lie. We choose to lie because we think it is easier, better, faster, etc. Perhaps sometimes it is easier to lie, but followers of Jesus are not called to take the easy path.
“Since Christ has suffered in His body, we must be ready to suffer also. Suffering puts an end to sin. You should no longer spend the rest of your life giving in to the sinful desires of the flesh. But do what God wants as long as you live in this world.”
1 Peter 4:1–2 NLV
Following Jesus can result in suffering of all kinds. However, whether it is forgiving someone 490 times or trusting God even when a lie is easier, we are to obey what God commands us to do. While any suffering is limited to our brief time in the earthly realm, our eternal reward for following Jesus is His love. No matter what the enemy or former spouses or other dark influences may try to throw at us, we fight from victory.
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”
Romans 8:35-37 NLT