The Gift of Forgiveness

May 11, 2011

in Life Lessons

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.
~Bruce Lee

One day last year my soon-to-be ex asked me out to lunch. What I realized when we met was that I was invited because he wanted to make amends for what he had done to our marriage.

I listened.

I cried.

I forgave him.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
~Lewis B. Smedes

At that moment it took a lot for me to forgive. We were not in a good place in our relationship at the time; I was still disappointed and angry. What I know now is that forgiveness was a gift I gave to him, but also to my children and myself. I had to let go of what had happened in the past in order for all of us to move forward.

When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.
~Bernard Meltzer

The four of us might not live under the same roof anymore, but we are still able to be happy together. My kids continue to experience a better dad with each passing month. I have a friendship with him. We are working well together in our company, which is translating to greater success for our business and our family’s financial well-being. The children are not conflicted, wondering who to align with in the constant battle between their parents. We were able to side-step drama and focus on the four of us being emotionally and financially whole as we moved through the divorce process.

I chose to do what felt right during the divorce negotiations. To have faith. To believe in him. To allow him to show me he could be more than he was in the past. To put history behind us and simply work together to move forward the best we could.

We limped at first. We fought the first several months we negotiated the divorce. But we never did anything to each other to bring irreparable harm to our relationship or to our children.

Forgiveness

It brought us to where we are today.

I am so grateful for his courage to ask forgiveness, actually forgiving him to free us, and our ability to change our future as a result. It wasn’t always easy, but we worked hard at it and succeeded. After creating two beautiful children together, our ability to successfully redefine our relationship might be one of the greatest accomplishments we have done together.

And it all started with forgiveness.

Note: Today’s post was inspired by a writing prompt at Studio30 Plus, which is a social media site for writers over 30. The prompt this week: Forgiveness


{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie May 11, 2011 at 9:41 am

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
~Lewis B. Smedes

Love that. It says so much. This was a nice heart-felt piece. Thank you for sharing.

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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 9:10 am

Thank you for the kind comment Angie. I am glad you enjoyed the piece.

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Random Girl May 11, 2011 at 9:48 am

You are absolutely right about this being a gift to yourself and your children. It takes a strong spirit to forgive someone who is closest to you when they harm you in some way but you did it and that is an awesome thing.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 9:09 am

Thank you. It feels good that we have all moved beyond what happened in the past and have found a way to enjoy life in our new family dynamic.

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Andie May 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm

What a great post this was. Some people don’t understand why I don’t hate my ex for what happened to our marriage, and I’ve always tried to explain that hating him or trying to hurt him would only hurt me and my girls in the process.

Although he’s never approached me as asked my forgiveness, I found that for my own well-being it was necessary to forgive him anyway.

I related to this post so well. Thank you for sharing it.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 9:08 am

Thank you for sharing your story in a comment. Isn’t it uplifting to forgive and move on? You truly can’t move forward with your life if you are busy looking back, angry about the past. You miss out on the wonderful things in life that are happening in the present moment.

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Roxanne May 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I’m glad you’ve found your peace.

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Dangerboy May 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Quite beautiful and rare. Truly getting to that state of forgiveness can be a monumental task.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 9:06 am

Thank you Dangerboy!

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The Defiant Marshmallow May 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Everything about this piece is just right. Starting with the image, through the heart, and to the end, this is put together with clean lines, clear visions, and a true ability to impart the message of forgiveness. You can be very proud of this bit of writing.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 9:05 am

Wow! Thank you for the kind words about this piece. I appreciate that you took the time to visit, read, and comment.

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Brandon May 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I cried at this post. I have been divorced for just over two years now. I have tried and tried to let it get to this point, but my ex will not bury the hatchet.

6 months ago, due to economic woes, I had to move from Cali to Idaho into a house owned by my girlfriend’s family. I was out of work for almost 10 months. I paid child support by emptying my 401(k) account, but still fell behind. I was called all sorts of names by my ex. Being labeled as a “deadbeat dad” really hurts.

It not only hurts me, it hurts my boys. I fear, thanks to her venomous words, the will grow up to resent me.

I’m working again, but I have garnishments on my paychecks, liens on my bank accounts, and I’m counting the days until they try to repossess my car and sell it for next to nothing. I am hoping, as you can see on my post today (below) I can at least see them for Father’s Day. But I don’t think that is going to happen.

My ex can stop the collectors from harassing me, and let me hit the reset button on Child Support. I am trying to convince her to let me private-pay again, but she’s using her leverage to make me beg and squirm.

I hope, one day, she can forgive me, like you have forgiven your ex. It’s healthier for everyone, especially the children.

Thank you for this post. Thank you.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 9:04 am

Brandon,

I am so sorry you are in a difficult place right now. I have a strong belief in things working out, but that it just takes time. I know that time is coming and everything will turn around for you.

I am glad to know, in some small way, that this post helped you.

Have faith that things will turn around Brandon.

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Maasiyat May 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm

It takes a tremendous amount of love and courage to do what you did and it shows that you definitely are a great mother to put your children’s needs ahead of your own anger and hurt. When I got divorced, the one thing I always said was, “I would never hate my ex more than I loved my children”. That statement has helped me get through a lot.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 8:56 am

I love that Maasiyat….you would never hate your ex more than you love your children. It keeps the perspective, doesn’t it?

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jacqui May 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm

I couldn’t agree with the words you’ve written more if I had written them myself. Very touching and inspiring post! Beautiful!
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 8:55 am

Thank you Jacqui!

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Heidi M May 11, 2011 at 8:38 pm

You both are to be commended… him for asking for forgiveness, you for forgiving and looking forward rather than behind. I was in your shoes seven years ago, with three young children. I had hoped to maintain good relations with my ex for their sake, but it’s gotten harder as they’ve gotten older. I pray yours is a smoother path! Thanks for sharing. :)

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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 8:55 am

Thank you for the kind words Heidi.

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Lance May 11, 2011 at 9:15 pm

So glad you are at this point. I forgave my ex, she’s still well, not in the forgiving mode.

Anything that starts with a Bruce Lee quote is a good post. well done.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 8:47 am

Lance,

Hopefully your ex will forgive at some point, but the fact that you did is what matters most. That is what will make your life better.

Thank you for the compliment on the post. Coming from you, it means a lot to me.

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Nirvana Mamma May 11, 2011 at 11:51 pm

I’m so happy for you and your family! What a wonderful thing, and BRAVE and KIND thing to do. It’s true, though. The minute you forgive, you are free. Not forgiving is the worst thing we can do to ourselves.

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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 8:46 am

I know I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today if I didn’t let everything go. It really does free you.

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Alexandra May 12, 2011 at 8:42 am

Holy cow, woman.

You are a bigger, better person than me.

There are things I just cant forgive.

I heard a radio interview once, on forgiveness.

And, in theory, I agree with everything that was said.

But to implement?

A whole nuther playing field.

eadioU

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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 8:45 am

Thank you Alexandra. I bet you could forgive if it meant a happier life for your children. It is amazing what the love of our children can bring about in us!

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Mad Woman behind the Blog May 12, 2011 at 9:11 am

This is said so well. Thank you. I particular love the quote about setting the captive free, yourself.
I am not divorced, and in a reasonably stable marriage but the ability to forgive is just as important.
Thank you Empress for tweeting this!

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Naked Girl in a Dress May 18, 2011 at 8:24 pm

I agree with you; the ability to forgive, in any situation, is essential for a happy life. It frees you so that you can move forward.

Thanks for visiting!

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By Word of Mouth Musings May 12, 2011 at 10:21 am

What wonderful parents you are to give this gift to your kids. Their new normal shows empathy and forgiveness – and parents who love them so much they are willing to set aside their differences to make this new normal work.
Kudos to you.

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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 10:43 am

Thank you. All four of us benefit as a result of our effort.

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Natalie May 12, 2011 at 11:09 am

So beautifully written.. Making peace with past relationships is hard, but worth it and necessary.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Thank you Natalie. It was hard work to get her, but as I said, I am so proud of the effort we made.

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Barbara Doduk May 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Forgiveness is wonderful. I am full of it, even if it isn’t asked for, it helps relieve me of baggage. I don’t hate my ex – I hate how he behaves sometimes. He is an emotional roller coaster, and his mood swings are hard to tolerate. He has never apologized for anything he has ever said or done, or if he has it was not a ‘real’ apology, it was veiled in excuses that explained his behaviour. However, I have moved beyond it, and now his antics slip off my back like water off a duck. LOL I hope in time he finds happiness, and treats me with more respect, because our daughter will become more and more aware of his treatment of me as she gets older.

Bravo to you both for reaching a point of contentment.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 12, 2011 at 9:28 pm

I think your ability to forgive is very impressive. It is hard to forgive when you continue to deal with bad behavior, disrespect, and excuses. Good for you! You are setting a great example for your daughter in that you are showing her how to rise above. She will respect you for it.

Thanks for visiting.

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Sunny May 12, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I could definitely relate to this. Very well said. Divorce is a type of loss that leaves people bitter even though it’s often for the best. Forgiveness is hard. Some people cling to their anger without knowing how to let go. You did a great job of showing them the ropes.

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Naked Girl in a Dress May 13, 2011 at 9:12 am

Thank you Sunny.

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Kimberly May 13, 2011 at 8:41 am

Forgiveness is definitely something that doesn’t come easy for me. But I can say that I feel less and less animosity toward my ex. And have forgiven much. I’m still working on a few of the biggies, but I know that one day, I’ll conquer those too.

Excellent post.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 13, 2011 at 9:11 am

Thank you Kimberly!

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Victoria KP March 3, 2012 at 9:28 am

Well done and well said. We do so much damage to ourselves and others when we carry grudges (and I’m REALLY good at holding on to grudges–but I’m working on it!).
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

It is difficult to let go sometimes, but it is such a good feeling to release whatever you are harboring!

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