Betrayal & Forgiveness
One of the best lessons I learned came from the pain of losing someone I wanted to marry. I was in my mid-twenties and this was the first time I had been in love. It reached the point that my girlfriend and I had talked about marriage and we had agreed we were going to marry someday. Not long after we had agreed to get married, my intended started to act strangely. We worked at the same building and used to meet regularly for lunch. Soon after we discussed marriage she was not always available for lunch. One time when she was not available, I saw her going to lunch with her girlfriend and another guy. Yes, I know that should have been a signal to me, but at the time I was much more naive than I am now. Another indication things were not as they should be was that some of my friends were asking me if I was still dating this girl. The reason they were asking was they were seeing her going to lunch with other guys. I was stuck in the mindset that if someone tells you that they love you, then they could not lie to you. I was to learn that not everyone thinks that way.
To make a long story short, my “first love” finally told me that she thought she should see other people, but she made it seem like this was just a phase for her and that we might get back together. I told her that was okay, thinking we would soon get back together and get married. Finally, I saw her walking to lunch one day with someone she used to talk about and I finally realized she had been lying to me about wanting to start dating other people. She had been dating others while we were still together. I found out a number of things soon after this that made me realize I was the last to know what was going on. I remember that day very well because strong feelings of anger welled up inside of me and I actually had to leave the building I worked in and take a walk. I felt a lot of rage and anger at that time.
As the weeks went by I kept hoping she would come back to me. The weeks turned into months and finally, after about 6 months, I began to move on with my life. I didn’t think I would meet anyone that I would love like her. Once again I was wrong. But I finally began to accept the fact that she was not coming back.
At some point during the first 6 months after getting dumped my housemates and I had our annual party. I decided to invite my ex-girlfriend because I remembered Jesus forgiving those who crucified him (Luke 23:34). Also, since Jesus could forgive us all our sins, the least I could do was forgive my ex-girlfriend for lying to me. She came to the party and it was difficult for me to be in the same room with her. But I fought back my feelings and talked to her at the party. What helped me was my commitment to my Christian beliefs. If I did not have my faith to spur me on I might have remained angry and bitter (Philippians 4:13). What makes forgiveness difficult for some is the fact we are often tied to our feelings and emotions. There is nothing wrong with having feelings and emotions, but they can get in the way of how we are to behave as Christians.
The following year I invited my ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend who I had seen her with in the hall. A year later it was a bit easier to deal with, but I could still feel a little bitterness in my emotional self. Again the Holy Spirit gave me the strength to greet them and talk with them. I was happy I was able to do that because I knew it was the right thing to do.
Soon after breaking up with my girlfriend I had the opportunity through a program at work to begin working on my master’s degree. If I had remained with my girlfriend I don’t think I would have participated in this master’s program. I was able to get my degree in a few years and realized the pain I felt was focused into working on my master’s degree. I learned a lot of interesting things by getting that degree and part of it was due to the fact I no longer had a relationship with that girl. At about the same time I also got involved in volunteer work. Once again the thing that spurred me on was trying to forget about the bad experience. I have continued to volunteer and have been greatly enriched by my volunteer experiences.
What I’m driving at here is that many of the things in life that happen to us that are bad in our mind, sometimes have a way of leading us to a greater good. The key is not remaining in the bad feelings and bitterness that may ensue. Remember, Jesus teaches us we need to forgive (Matthew 18:21-35). When you can forgive after being hurt you truly begin to develop Godly character and understand what God is all about (I John 4:16; I Corinthians 13:4-5).