"unforgiveness Is Like Drinking Poison And Expecting Your Enemy To Die

I am a Christian and have studied and practiced forgiveness from a biblical and spiritual viewpoint for over 25 years now. I have found it easier to forgive others when I realize how much I myself have been forgiven.

Over 30 years ago, I went through an abusive marriage for 5 years which is still impacting our lives. To the best of my ability and with many prayers to God I thought I had forgiven my ex and my son's stepfather. I never thought about my ex during my waking hours, but still suffered from nightmares about him from time to time and was still afraid of him. I would wake up all stressed out so it was bad for my physical health. I prayed (and had others to pray) that God would take away the nightmares with no avail. At first, I thought these nightmares were from satan. Then I began to wonder if I had fully forgiven, and that by letting these nightmares continue, God was trying to tell me that my forgiveness was not complete. I felt the urge to write a letter to my ex for a long time, but was advised against opening that “can of worms” because of his violent temper. Finally, after much prayer and agonizing over it, I wrote my ex the following letter (excerpts) and prayerfully mailed it to him.


Bill:
  
 Over the past 35 years the consequences of our marriage have weighed heavily... Now, as time grows short, I need to have closure. I am no longer afraid of you...God took all my fears and worries away over 25 years ago.  I am not the same person you knew...I became a REAL Christian in 1979, and as such I’ve HAD to forgive you which has been a real struggle over the years... Did you know that I developed a brain tumor from your licks to my head?... but it's still there.I have to live with uncertainty...I recently went to Panama City Beach... As I watched the children play in the water, an old memory came rushing back to the time when we took my little boy and how he wanted to go out to play in the pool...You sent a little boy out to play in a practically deserted pool who didn’t know how to swim.... 

I don’t believe you realized the depth of my grief when I found out my little
7 year old boy had been diagnosed with diabetes and the extra grief you added by insisting that I not stay at the hospital with him at night He cried when you left... to him you were better than no father at all. To this day he has never had an earthly father... Did you know that when you told him over and over that “he would never amount to anything” he developed a lifelong obsession to prove you wrong?  He works too hard trying to hold on to the “American Dream” he has acquired and has little time to enjoy it?  Did you know that when you finally (after much pleading from me) left I was physically sick... emotionally drained...  I was on stomach pills to keep my food down, pills to control my severe headaches, and nerve pills to keep me from going over the edge – and that I had nothing left of me to give to my son?  Again, I wasn’t there for him when he needed me most, again because of you? Did you know that to this day we aren’t as close as a mother and son should be?...Did know I find it harder to forgive myself for being so weak ALLOWING you do all these than to forgive you for doing it to us and that this
 is the biggest regret of my life?  Finally, did you know how greatly God has
 blessed my son and I over the years in spite of these things?  Do you have
 any idea of God’s promises to widows and the fatherless and His warnings
 to those who would mistreat them?... I’ve been carrying this load all
 by myself all these years, and just wanted to share this burden with you in
 the time you have left here.


A couple of days later, I got a phone call from him. He was very calm and apologetic. He said he had loved me but was jealous of my son and was very insecure at that time because of the abuse he had suffered when he was growing up. He said that over the years that he had changed and was no longer that man. As a result of his acceptance of his failure, I had the opportunity to witness to him. I told him what the scriptures had to say about those who abused widows and orphans. I suggested that ,now that it had been made right between us, he needed to make it right with God. He assured me that he would seriously consider it, and didn't seem offended at all. While I was talking to him, I felt a special compassion for him that I had never felt before and I actually felt sorry and concern for him. When I started out, it was all about me and my son, but ended up being about him. That was several months ago and I have not had a nightmare since. I feel a new and special freedom from my past. My ministry of encouragement to ones that have been abused has been strengthened.. I believe more than ever that God can and will redeem evil for good.

jburns1947 jburns1947
61-65, F
2 Responses Jul 22, 2010

Thanks so much for your kind words. You can take a bad experience and redeem it to bring good. It's like the old saying, "If you get lemons - make lemonade" I've learned never to be so ashamed of my past that it prevents me from using it to help others - "Don't waste your sorrows".

I sometimes have dreams of my ex husband. He was never abusive but because of him leaving me after 14 plus years of what I thought was a happy marriage...he has caused me lots of emotional pain! I know I have not fully forgiven him. I am working on it. I am praying to God about forgiveness!<br />
Writing a letter to your ex sounded like a great idea! I think this would help me but again I know he would give it to his new wife and make the letter somehow turn against me. He has used things against me when he takes me to court. Since my son is turning 18 this month I know he will be taking me to court to change the amount of money he pays for child support. <br />
I admire your relationship you have with God! I am so inspired by your story and your courage and your willingness to let the past go!