I had a particularly difficult season in business last year. In a co-worker’s own hurt of perhaps not being admired any longer, listened to, or valued, she became insolent — to the point of saying slanderous and untrue words. She had left the company and had moved on to another one, but the way she kept flame throwing to burn our businesses down felt purposefully mean-spirited. Especially if you thought you were friends!
I have walked through betrayal before, believe me. I know how deep betrayal feels in marriage and I know the work it takes to forgive. But for some reason, this felt different. I knew there wasn’t reconciliation on the other side, I didn’t want it. And she certainly didn’t either. There were too many bridges burned. And so I left it alone.
Well, sort of . . .
Any time her name came up, I would prickle. I would sometimes even wish she failed in her new endeavor, that the weight of her sin would give her what she was owed. My prayers were more like, “Bring her justice!” And under the guise of Scripture, it felt sort of holy. It didn’t feel like sin. After all, she was in the wrong.
Every day, I walk on nearby trails for about 5.5 miles, which takes me about an hour and a half. This gives me a lot of time to think. Unfortunately, at the start of one particular walk, I was ruminating on the latest flame hurled over the fence by this same gal. “Relentless! She must be so miserable and…” But my passionate thoughts were interrupted by another thought: Pray for her.
This was not my leaning, nor was it from my brain (obviously), this was God breaking through.
Pray for HER? Oh, come on!
But speaking of relentless, God wouldn’t let up. I couldn’t enjoy my jazz for autumn playlist. I couldn’t say hi to all my dog friends. This new thought demanded my attention. Fine! I thought, like a toddler fighting over a toy who gets the toy stolen is asked to apologize to the one who stole it. In this scenario, the victim may or may not have given the offender a little bop on the shoulder. “She stole my firetruck! SO, I had no choice over what I did with my hand!”
Hmmm mmm hmmm, I cleared my throat. And quickly prayed. Lord, umm . . . please help HER today. Be with her. Show her Your presence. Be near to her and her family.
I started to soften, but was still uncomfortable praying for someone I considered my enemy. And then the voice again, Now bless her.
I pursed my lips. I wanted to say no. My heart was resistant. I paused, buckling under my desire to be obedient more than my desire to bless my adversary. So I prayed, “God would you please bless her. Bless her family, Bless her… business.” That last one was the hardest of all, knowing what she had caused in mine. I exhaled. I realized that in my cloak of holiness, I had been harboring bitterness.
Funny thing, several weeks later, her name came up, and I didn’t have one bad thought about her. I didn’t have anything to say in the conversation, nor did I want to. I wasn’t going to her social media to see what lies she was spewing today. I was released from that heavy weight of vengeance, of retribution, of being the judge. It felt so good.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1 (NIV)
Bitterness is heavy. And you know what else we’re warned against along with bitterness? Slander.
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.
(Ironically, this is the same verse God used to help me forgive my husband after his affair.)
I was just as guilty as my former coworker in living out of my sin. And God, in His kindness, refused to let me stay in this slavery, this heaviness, anymore. He didn’t do it by changing her, He did it by changing me. He did it gently, but He did it swiftly. And not because I changed my own heart, but because He asked me to pray a prayer of obedience.
I didn’t trust that I would forgive her, but I did trust the One who asked me to forgive. And He was faithful to accomplish that good work inside of me.
This is such good news. We can be free!
So beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.
I do understand. I used to be the secretary on a BOD of a condo association and there were 3 women who were relentless in causing trouble, spewing lies and just generally making board members and residents miserable. I finally began praying for them. I did this more for me to be honest. It helped me to let it go. They didn’t change, but I certainly did. Prayer and forgiveness. Amen
Ruth Mills says
Jami, so beautifully written! I am praying now for the one who had caused you damage to be equally convicted of her sin & for God to restore what was damaged in your business. Your obedience is an encouragement to take up prayer as a weapon against sin. Bless you!
Jami, thank you for sharing. I am new to the website.
I must ask since you mentioned forgiveness with your husband over and affair how did you do it and how long did it take? I feel I have but maybe I haven’t.
My husband has had about four affairs but along with that three unknown credit card debts worth around $35,000.00. When he got caught he just said he was sorry but did it again.
Currently he left two years ago and withdrew his 401k to IRA last month and never told me then changed his address because I opened it up and found what he did.
He swears at me and tells on a conversation all the while being an elder at a small church and does preach occasionally.
My question is how do you keep forgiving over and over?
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Suzie you have to forgive. I know someone who had two affairs. It hurt the whole family badly. The first time the person took the person back. But second time no. But still found the way to forgive because they knew they had Grandkids from their kids and would be at their kids houses every now and then. For Birthday party extra of their kids and the Grandkids. So this person said I will make friends but never have them back. So when together with our kids and Grandkids we can be Hospital for kids and Grandkids sake. As it not fair on them that we would not when it came to the kids Birthday and Grandkids Birthday. Then I get I not be going because I didn’t want to be in the same place as this person who did the wrong. That would not be fair to our kids or the Grandkids. As they wonder why I was not going to their Birthdays. Especially the Grandkids would ask why they were not here. You can’t tell them a lie. Then the Grandkids especially would miss you not being there. So this person went and said I talk to them and do for our kids and Grandkids. So as they aren’t asking questions why I was not going to there Birthdays. But this person did tell the Grandkids they and the other Grandparent were not together. All this person said was for reasons I gave them a chance and they broke it so this time I will not be having them back to live with me anymore. But we are friends and now live in sepret houses. But we will both be at your parents Birthdays and yours. Because we both love you. This person left it like that. Felt so much better having done that. But it did take alot of time with alot of hurt to be to get that they could do that. They said that they done it as it was the right thing to do. Plus for their kids and Grandkids. I did watch the saddness when took them back and they done it again. So I a member of the family said to God one time. Thank you they are able to do this. Not say they can’t go to their kids Birthdays and Grandkids. Because the person who did the wrong will be there. They did it because it better to live harmony and not let the other family members say it not the same they are not at my Birthday party. When the other Grandparent is there they didn’t want that. As they loved their kids far to much and Grandkids. God was so proud of them for being able to do this. But I can see where you are coming from how many times do you forgive?. You have to as the word of God says to keep on forgiving. As it will only eat you up if don’t. God knows your hurt and pain you have went through. All the tears you have cried. As God see all that. God will honour you for doing so if you can. No matter how hard it is to do. If this person I am talking about. If they could not have sat in same room even for their kids and Grandkids sake on special occasions like Birthdays. They knew they would have been hurt their Grandkids for not having both Grandparents together and do would their kids. This person knew they were doing the right thing. I will say a prayer for you. It not nice. God sees your hurt and pain. I had forgiven this person that done the wrong to as they were a parent of mine. I would not be able to go as they are elderly now a bit of home help for them. If I not done what God words says and forgive them. Yes what they done has hurt alot and I will never forget what they done to my other parent. But I know God is proud of me for forgiving them. As it would always eat me up if I didn’t. The only person it would hurt more than my parent that done it. Would be me God showed me this. I glad I did. Feel for you as it not nice. Xx
Lynn M says
I grew up with a father that sounds alot like your ex. I’ve learned that grieving the great disappointment and hurt is necessary for moving forward. God will be there for you to listen, hold you and heal your broken heart. He is close too the brokenhearted.
Seek His presence and tell Him how much it hurt you. Listen and pay attention for His response and little by little He will heal you. You have to take a leap of faith to fully believe that He will be with you and hear you and help you. If you take this step, then you will be able to hear and feel Him, to see that He is there for you even if you’ve never seen it before or knew He was.
Also I had to learn to see him as a very hurt, toxic and damaging person to keep myself from expecting more… His actions have to do with his lack of control, degree of hurt and anger. Most people who are like this are this way with everyone (eventually), not just you so it helped me to depersonalize the experience. He does the things he does due to things having to do only with him.
After grieving the things he did, and grieving that he was never the person I thought he was, and accepted that he is the way he is and probably never will change, it freed me and helped me to get over him. God also directed me to forgive him for my own health and to let go of the relationship I always wanted from him. He wasn’t capable of it so I found that it was best for me to distance my interactions with him for my own peace and health. Yes, he will always be my father. I send him a card on Father’s Day, his Birthday and Christmas and do not expect anything from him. It is a big compromise from what I wanted and who I wanted him to be but a healthy one… It is well worth the process. God has healed me tremendously and the beauty from the ashes is that I see and know with all of me that God is with each of us and will help us. It’s priceless… A painful process but so worth it! God will be there for you. I know it from my own experience… Trust me on this.
Thank you so much for this Jami! I’m a little embarrassed to admit how much I needed this, lol. Blessings!
Wow! You know how you read something in the Bible multiple times and then it finally clicks? Today your insight helped me see what praying for your enemy truly means. Since Jesus prays blessings for me (the Beatitudes), I in turn can pray blessings over others.
Brenda Koinis says
I did, got u, thank u
Gail Noe says
Thank you so much for your open honesty. You are identifying where I have been and what I have been experiencing. What a change! Looking for more freedom from our merciful God
Thank you for your sharing. It speaks to me at this time when my heart is heavy.
Mark Kidd says
Thank you for sharing… I’m still learning
Mark Kidd says
Extremely helpful right now. Still learning
Lynn M says
Thank you for sharing this with us all! We all struggle with bitterness at times and to spell out the formula for leaving it behind is priceless… You make a difference so hoping you will keep sharing!
Beth Williams says
I had a co worker who was rigid in her ways & not always helpful. She was in the department before I was hired. She became jealous of me-all the while I was just doing my job && trying to help her out. One Tuesday night she quit suddenly. Leaving me to learn the job on my own. I was frustrated & upset at first. When I learned some things about her I began to pray for her. Asking God to bless her & give her a job more suited to her. It released any bitterness I may have had & gave me a sense of peace.
Patsy Hockaday says
Just read this for the 3rd time and journaled about it this morning as I struggle to be obedient. Praying for and blessing the person who has offended me is so hard. So much so I know I can’t do on my own, but I know my Father wants me to be free. Thank you for reminding me and I am grateful that God used this message right now so I can get on with my life being free in Him.