By Trisha Davis: In the fall of 2005, my husband Justin confessed to having an affair.  At the time, he was the lead pastor of the church we planted in 2002, and the affair was with our children’s director. She not only was a staff member, but also my best friend of seven years.

With one confession, I stood to lose my husband, my best friend and my church family. I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. Would I become bitter, knowing that bitterness leads to bondage? Or become broken, knowing that brokenness leads to forgiveness -- and through forgiveness comes freedom?

Being a Christian implies forgiving people that hurt you, even when they don’t deserve it. But let’s be honest; even when we know we should forgive, the context of our story can get in the way. Forgiving can be so frustrating!

But then I think about Matthew 18, where Jesus tells a story about a wicked servant who accepts the forgiveness of debt by his master, but is unwilling to show mercy to one of his own servants.  It's the kind of story that makes you ask, "God are you telling me that I am the unmerciful servant because I won’t forgive?"

So about a year after the affair, I wrote a letter to the “other woman” to tell her I forgave her. This is what I said:

I told her that God had given me eyes to see that the affair was a manifestation of a deeper brokenness within both of them. I told her that I loved her and her family and would miss them no longer being a part of my life.

The freedom I felt after sending the letter was amazing, but after years of no letter back, feelings of anger and bitterness started to creep in.  I poured my heart out, forgave her, extended grace and she didn't even respond?

Unfortunately, my understanding of forgiveness was really not forgiveness at all.  I treated her like I was the “Master,” forgiving her of her great debt, and she was the unmerciful servant who never responded back.

Thankfully, by God’s grace, I realize now that it's me that's the unmerciful servant when I choose not to forgive freely.  Jesus died for MY SINS when he did nothing wrong.  I am forgiven, and forgiveness is a gift from the Father that brings freedom and life.

Forgiveness can be painful, and reconciliation may never happen with your situation.  But what I have learned is that each time I choose to forgive -- freely forgive -- I am set free and healing can begin.

Have you struggled with understanding what it means to forgive?

Trisha's husband, Justin, wrote for us on Sunday.  Check out his post to hear his voice as well!

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