I never thought that I would have to forgive someone for majorly affecting my life. I’ve forgiven someone for gossiping about me or staining a shirt I lent them, but those aren’t things that affected my life in a big way. I never would have thought that forgiveness would shape how I live my life today.
The summer after high school graduation, my best friend asked me to marry him because his family wasn’t here legally. I wanted to marry him; I wanted to marry him because I truly did love him and wanted a life with him. I asked my parents and they immediately said no because they knew he didn’t love me as a husband should love a wife. I was crushed because I couldn’t get married to someone if my parents didn’t give their blessing. He also wasn’t Catholic and I always pictured myself marrying someone of the same faith.
For the next two years he continued to pressure me, knowing how my parents felt and knowing that I really did love him. He never showed interest in me romantically but I still held onto the hope that things would change. When I would fight with my parents, he would tell me to stay mad at them. Little by little he pushed me away from my parents, although I still lived with them, there was definitely a distance between us. He finally got me to marry him in a quick court house ceremony, without my family, without my friends, without my faith and without true love. I thought that after we got married, he would see me in a different way and our marriage would become true but it was exactly the opposite, he was meaner and made me feel like I was obligated to marry him. I quickly fell into a depression, I had to live a lie and keep a secret with no one to turn to. I felt alone.
My parents eventually found out and told me that I needed to divorce him or they’d disown me. Their ultimatum made me realize that they were my family, not this person who used me for his own benefit. After I asked him for a divorce, he left with his parents and was never heard from again. Almost two years later, I have come out of my depression through therapy, my faith, love from my family and friends but most of all through forgiveness. I no longer seek revenge and have forgiven him and more importantly myself. “…Forgive as the lord forgave you”, Colossians 3:13, going through this experience has strengthened my relationship with God and my family. Going to church and indulging in my faith has helped me stay mentally and emotionally healthy, I think the stability and structure my faith gives me has helped a lot. Holding grudges and pain in your heart, only prolongs the hurt. I believe everyone is capable of forgiveness. Forgiveness opens the heart to truly heal and strengthen.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.