Evelyn Jansen wrote this personal article that reveals how she found freedom through forgiveness! Not just in forgiving her husband, but also her parents. So many times we build walls to try and protect ourselves from being hurt when in reality the walls we build end up hurting us. Being able to forgive will lead to restoration! If you are inspired by Evelyn’s words please leave a comment below!
When I got married 31 years ago, most of the people I knew married young. That is to say that you either went to college and married upon graduation, or you got a job after high school and then got married. Many people today would scoff, or even gasp at the thought of couples marrying after high school, but a few decades ago it was commonplace. To our credit, many of the couples I knew then are still married now.
It took a lot of courage to jump in and make those vows, but young love dictated that something be done, be acted upon, if the object of our affection was to be secured for our very own. Thinking back I realize that I wasn’t afraid. Naïve maybe, but not afraid. I had faith in God, and believed that I, we, would make it with Him on our side. I had prayed for someone to love me in that special way and this man, surely, was my answer.
That’s the last thing I remember not being afraid about though. It seems like every subsequent decision has been wrought with fear, because somewhere along the way, God took a back seat.
I thought, “I’ve got this now.”
Somehow, some time, I put God beneath me, to be there when I needed Him to answer a prayer, or convict someone when they were wrong or hurt me. I was self-centered, not God-centered, and over the years it would prove to cause me a great deal of sorrow that could have been avoided.
Since I grew up without a father I had an insatiable need for attention, proof of love if you will, the brunt of that need was placed squarely on the shoulders of my new husband. Unfortunately for both of us, we didn’t have much knowledge about how to love each other in the way God intended. We had some faith, and a little bit of shallow doctrinal knowledge that we learned in Sunday School as children, but were sorely uninformed of God’s idea of mature, sacrificial spousal love.
I was on a personal quest to prove myself worthy of love, and he had his own agenda of proving he wasn’t “hen-pecked” or controlled by a woman, namely – me. We developed our own signature dance, a dance that I’m sad to say we would become expert at performing over the years. The only problem was, after this dance was over, nobody would be happy or fulfilled. On the contrary. After this dance I would be crying, and he’d be in another room – or worse – out of the house altogether.
After 20 years or so I learned to pick my battles. I stuffed things because I knew the outcome of bringing anything up would be “the dance,” and I always lost the battle anyway. But God, in His infinite wisdom began working in me with occasional convictions in my heart, starting with the bitterness I held for my father. He let me know in specific terms that enough was enough and to let it go.
I struggled with it at first, but eventually I gave in, and obedience to God won. I started my healing by displaying a small photo of my father on a shelf near my desk to remind myself that I was a part of him, and that God himself planned my existence through this man. Every quality I possess from both of my parents is exactly as God designed.
Not much changed in my day-to-day life except that the walls of mistrust, doubt and fear that I had built around my heart started to crack. The crack was miniscule at first but it was a beginning for God and me to walk more closely together. I certainly didn’t know what to expect. I had thought of myself as a good Christian, a servant in my church, a volunteer in my community, not someone who needed to be “fixed” for sure. What we hide from the world, even subconsciously, God knows.
He knows us to our very core, which can be both frightening and liberating!
In my quiet times over the next few years was where God got my attention. During one of these times He revealed to me that I had been angry at my mom for many years too. I reminded God that she was the one who stayed, who took care of us and that I loved her and missed her very much. Through His Spirit He revealed to me that I have been angry at her for telling my father to stay out of our lives when he left. Wow! I had never even acknowledged that to myself, but it was true.
“How dare she make that decision for me?” I had thought many times.
That decision and my father’s never contacting me caused me to believe I was unlovable. That belief caused me so much heartache. God helped me to realize that she was trying to make sure we had a peaceful home, free from strife.
The crack in my wall began to widen, and the joy that comes from forgiveness started to take root in me.
I also had to learn to forgive my husband, for all the “dances” I had lost. And God is no longer beneath me. I have taken my rightful place beneath Him. He is trustworthy, even if nothing in this world is. And because of that, I don’t need walls to protect my heart. He has it in His loving hands and that’s all the protection I need.
- Evelyn Jansen, B.A., CPC