The Art of Forgiving Your Ex
A few years ago, a friend of mine married a man she didn’t know very well. Within a short period of time, she ran headfirst into the unfortunate realization that she and her new husband did not share the same work ethic. He didn’t feel like working—and so he didn’t. She ended up being the one who maintained their home in every possible sense.
The situation became so bad that one day her father came to her and said, “You need to do something before your marriage kills you.”
In a stress-filled, horrible situation like the one my friend found herself in, forgiveness can seem impossible. As followers of Jesus, we know we’re supposed to forgive…but how can we forgive when the other person doesn’t seem to care or is clearly in the wrong?
Here are a few thoughts that can help us forgive even when it’s difficult.
1. Seek the Holy Spirit’s Help
When someone treats me in a way I know I don’t deserve, it can be hard to forgive them because it becomes a matter of justice in my heart. I know I didn’t deserve to be treated that way. It wasn’t simply that the person was angry or annoyed in the moment, but it feels like they went out of their way to try to hurt me.
Standing up for what is right and just is part of the heartbeat of God, so in those moments when an injustice has occurred, it can be difficult for us to forgive because we know the other person was wrong.
In these situations, whenever the cut is deep, we need God’s help to forgive. For me, one of the best ways to start to forgive is by seeking my heavenly Father. I go find a quiet place where I can spend time with the Holy Spirit and ask Him to help me.
If you’re having trouble forgiving your ex, go spend time with Jesus and ask Him about what you’re feeling. Grab a notebook and pen, and write down any impressions you sense He is giving you. What does He say about you? How does spending time with Him fill you with hope?
2. Seek Help from a Mentor
When a situation is really rough, we may need someone to come alongside us and help shoulder our load for a time. This person could be a good friend, mentor, or pastor who knows Jesus well and is able to help us let go of our anger and resentment, so we can reach the point of granting forgiveness once and for all.
Spend time with this mentor and let them know what your heart is thinking. How are you feeling? What is your pain level? Tell them why you are having a hard time forgiving. Be open with them and allow them to be open with you.
Seek their guidance about setting good, healthy boundaries in your life, so when you meet someone special, you can have the kind of relationship you desire.
3. Try to See the Person Through God’s Eyes
This one can be tough. But it is also a sign of great health.
Anytime someone injures us, we have a choice. We can pick up the “stone” of that injury—which is unforgiveness—and carry it with us. Or we can choose to set the stone down, so we can keep walking unencumbered.
When we are able to let go of our resentment and really forgive the other person, we stop seeing them through the “veil” of pain and anger. Instead, we see them the way God does: with love and compassion, not with judgment.
We can discern whether or not we have forgiven someone by checking our heart attitude toward that person.
Set Yourself Up for Future Success
In his book The DNA of Relationships, Dr. Gary Smalley writes, “Life is relationships; the rest is just details.” If life is relationships, then knowing how to do relationships well is vital.
As you become the one for the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, don’t be afraid to step out with a heart of forgiveness and love for other people. Set yourself up for success in your future relationship by forgiving the person who hurt you in the past.
For more information on sex, marriage, and finding the person who is right for you, get a copy of Becoming the One by Salomé Roat. Click here to learn more.