Hi friend. First off, let me just say I’m so sorry.
Your heart has been broken.
Your trust shattered.
Your confidence in them crushed.
And you really just don’t know what to think. Somebody you love screwed up big time. And now you’re wondering what happens next. I wish we were sitting at my kitchen table so I could hug you and we could cry together. But we aren’t. So this is me doing my best to reach through the screen and let you hear my heart, and it’s important that you listen.
Forgiveness is possible, restoration is a reality. THERE IS HOPE. It may not seem like it just yet, but it’s there.
And just because someone you love made a big mistake doesn’t mean you have to make one, too. So take my hand and let’s talk about what you do from here.
1. Come to grips that what they did was wrong
Sometimes when it’s someone we love who has done the wrong, our initial reaction is to lessen their sin because we love them. This is a natural thing to do, but it’s not the right move. But calling a wrong “a wrong” is the right first thing to do. No one is exempt from sin or above falling into temptation. Nor is anyone exempt from being a victim from someone else’s sin. We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God, nobody’s perfect. But Recognizing that you can still love someone even if they’ve done something awful is key because God still loves all of us. Not because of who we are, but IN SPITE of who we are. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23, “but God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
2. Feel all the feels
Anger, sadness, confusion, hurt, despair, shock, disgust, anxious… these are just a few of the things that you might be feeling right away. And it’s ok to feel these things. Trying to deny a feeling that you have will only make the process more painful for you and blur the truth you are trying to come to grips with. But like I always say, “Emotions are indicators, not dictators. My emotions are not my source of Truth.” And living in these emotions for prolonged periods of time isn’t healthy for anyone, especially you. Some of these emotions may even cycle through your heart as this process continues. And that’s ok, too. You are human. The key is to keep handing them back over to the One Who created you to feel in the first place – He already knows how you feel, anyway. “Search me, Oh God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23
3. Pray it out
This might be the hardest part, but is so necessary – start with prayer before you move any further. Pray that your heart would be granted peace and your mind clarity. Ask that you would be quick to listen and slow to speak. Petition that you would be spoken in truth AND love; it doesn’t seem like it, but they can be spoken together. Just like God loves you and the person (people) your loved one has wronged, God loves them just the same. And as followers of Him, our desire is to chase after His character for our own hearts, even in the hardest seasons. And the toughest part? Pray for a heart softened towards forgiveness. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15
4. Talk it out
Sitting across the table and looking someone in the eye who has messed up is a painful thing. But the Lord goes before you in this conversation, friend. Whether you have this conversation alone with your loved one or along with another trusted friend, be a listener first and spoken in love and truth second. You are not going to come to a solution in this conversation, but it’s the first step towards healing… for both of you. “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:1-5, “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” Luke 17:3
5. Choose to forgive… and then choose it again
Every single situation is completely different, there is no way I can know your story as I type this. But I do know that when you come to a place when you are ready to forgive, as we are Biblically charged to do, it’s going to be a daily choice – maybe even a moment by moment one. Forgiveness is not a one and done step, nor is it a feeling. It’s daily dying to ones self for the sake of your heart and the relationship to your loved one. Forgiveness can be painful and maybe even seem irrational. But sometimes that’s what the obedience of the Gospel looks like – it doesn’t always make sense. But He uses all things together for the good of those who love Him. Even the things that seem the most unforgivable. And His desire is to see everyone come to the lifesaving knowledge of His son – even the vilest offender.“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
6. Keep your heart in check
Accountability in the process of forgiveness is key. Having a wise person you trust to walk through this hard season and beyond with you will undoubtedly make your load lighter. We were created for friendship and community – we can’t do this life alone. “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
So friend, I don’t know your story, I don’t know why you’re hurting. But I serve the One Who does. So let His Word guide you as you walk your next steps. And remember, you can still love someone who screwed up big time. There is nothing too big that God can’t redeem.
It’s what He specializes in.