Forgiving Adultery

He was supposed to be out with the army. That’s what 2 Samuel 11:1 says about King David.

But he decided to stay home.

He took a stroll along his rooftop and saw a beautiful woman taking a bath. And the rest, as they say, is history.

David lusted. Bathsheba succumbed. David ordered Bathsheba’s husband murdered so he could marry her. They had a child.

All seemed well. But God did not forget what took place. The price of David’s sin was the life of their child.

So much collateral damage from one person who thought he was above reproach, the law, or reprimand.

Are you and I any different?

Adultery plagues our world today. Whether you have been victimized by it or know a family member or friend who has suffered a wayward spouse, infidelity affects us all.

Infidelity frays the fabric of families.

Teachers feel the effects in their classrooms when kids act out or grades slip as they process the emotional hurricane caused by their parents’ divorces.

Pastors’ and counselors’ schedules stay full as they walk the victims of adultery toward God’s healing.

I don’t use the word victim lightly. That’s what adultery feels like.

The one person to whom you opened your heart, body, and mind decided on some level that you were insufficient. Whether that insufficiency stems from within or is persuaded from without, it decimates intimacy.

Adultery ranks among the top significant hurts that are the most difficult to forgive. But that’s not news. The real news is that “victim” is not our identity when we are in Christ.

And if we are in Christ, forgiveness is not optional. Ugh. Believe me, I understand how much that stinks to hear when you’re sleeping single in a double bed.

Forgiving the deep betrayal of adultery seems impossible. How do you even begin such a daunting process?

I asked that question several times. When our emotions are screaming for vengeance, entertaining thoughts of forgiveness seems impossible. But as God’s children, we do not operate in our own strength.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

If you’ve experienced adultery, you will feel weary and faint. But rely on HIS strength.

People question when I say, “Through gritted teeth, I asked God to help me forgive my ex-husband.” That’s because forgiveness is an intentional act of the will.

When I kept asking God to help me forgive my ex-husband instead of dwelling on his actions, God focused my thoughts on Him, not the hurt.

God sets our heart right when we focus on the Lord and surrender toxic emotions to Him. (Colossians 3:2, Proverbs 3:6).

So how do you walk toward forgiveness?

Begin with prayer. Pray for God to heal your shattered heart and mend your broken spirit. Over and over and over.

It may seem as if you’re trying to convince yourself that you’re worth such love. God says you are.

Healing takes endless hours poring through Scripture. The verses God used powerfully in my life during that time were Psalm 18:16–19.

No matter our hurt, its depth or its breadth, God rescues us. Why? Because “He delighted in me.” That’s it. No other credential necessary.

Your worth is not stained by those who hurt you.

Your lovability factor is not decreased by his or her actions.

You are completely and wholly loved by God regardless of external circumstances.

When we endure painful seasons, knowing that Christ is our strength gives purpose to our pain. God never wastes a hurt. He will use that brokenness for our good and His glory.

Forgiveness doesn’t let them off the hook. Forgiveness frees you from the narrative of hate.

Ask God to help you forgive your adulterous spouse.

Keep asking.

Not because God doesn’t hear you, but to keep your focus on Him.

Keep focused.

In Christ alone, you will find hope, healing, and the strength to forgive.

 

*This post is an excerpt from my new book, Forgiveness: Received From God, Extended to Others, available now.

Without This Ring by Donna Pyle

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Extinguishing the Flames of Anger

When Demi Lovato’s album Unbroken released six years ago, the album title intrigued me.

At the time, I was struggling with anger following my divorce.

I don’t know much about Demi’s history or music, other than her incredible vocal range. I listened to the songs carefully to find out how she developed the album’s theme.

She wrote one of the songs to her dad, pleading for him to put down the alcohol and keep his selfish hands off his daughter. It broke my heart. How awful.

Suddenly the stories that circulated on the Internet over the years about Demi entering rehab for cutting and bulimia made sense. The powerless trying to regain control.

So what does this have to do with anger?

In the music video for that particular song, Demi demonstrates that she is using the power of success to overcome her painful past.

Paraphrased, Demi’s lyrics basically say, “Go ahead and try to tear me down, but I will rise from the ground like a skyscraper.”

It’s a popular mind-set in our culture that says, “If you hurt me, I don’t get angry and take revenge; I become successful to prove that you can’t hurt me anymore.”

However, such a mind-set is commonly driven by unresolved anger. We resolve to become indestructible skyscrapers, but have we dealt with what happened at the foundation?

God set the example by being slow to anger (Exodus 34:6, Psalm 30:5). Anger is a volatile emotion that must be handled with kid gloves.

One day during my divorce process, I telephoned my television cable provider to switch the service from both of our names to mine only.

The customer service representative could not seem to understand that my husband was unavailable to approve my request, even after telling her that my husband no longer lived in our home and would not be returning.

I reached the breaking point.

I shouted something about her being too deaf to hear and too dense to understand, slammed down the phone’s receiver, yanked the whole thing out of the wall, and threw it across the bedroom with all my might. It left a perfect, telephone-shaped hole in the sheet rock.

That was not a proud moment on many levels.

My over-the-top anger vividly taught me that anger can cause damage—literally. That day I asked God to remove those sharp, angry edges and begin the process of mending my heart.

I prayed for that poor customer service rep whose hair I set aflame and asked God’s forgiveness.

If you struggle with anger, it takes intentional time in prayer and God’s Word to remove it.

At one point during her video, Demi looks defiantly into the camera as if to say, “You tried to rip me down, but my sweetest revenge will be in-your-face success.”

That mind-set likely resonates with us at some level because all of us have been hurt. Whether someone betrayed a trust, shared a secret, or physically hurt us, we get it.

Sometimes we feel the need to prove that we can rise like a skyscraper above painful adversity.

But we will not find resurrection apart from Jesus.

Anger is appropriate if we’ve been hurt, but many of us take it further. Sometimes, we add coals of bitterness and resentment and stoke our anger with dreams of vengeance.

But the truth is that we never master the flame.

Fire doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t just scorch those who hurt you—it scorches you. Eventually, it will consume your life (Psalm 37:8).

Anger itself is not a sin. However, it may become sinful when excessive or prolonged.

When we hold on to anger and bitterness, the conflagration eventually destroys us from the inside out. Evil wins.

So how do we properly respond to our wounds when we are surrounded by an outrage-obsession culture?

We don’t resolve to throw telephones across the room or build skyscrapers.

We choose to forgive.

And only God gives us the strength for that hard task.

Forgiveness is the only way to extinguish the flames of anger and once again put your feet on the path toward joy.

Surrender your anger to God.

Let Him build a skyscraper of grace in your life, built on the foundation of forgiveness.

 

*This post is an excerpt from my new book, Forgiveness: Received from God, Extended to Others, available now.

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Revenge: Drop the Jawbone

Samson had an anger problem. Well, maybe he just never learned how to process anger well.

In Judges 15, an incident between Samson and his father-in-law eventually escalated into battles involving nations and the slaughter of thousands of innocent people.

All because of revenge.

When Samson returned home to his wife after a time away, he learned that his father-in-law (thinking Samson hated his wife) gave her to Samson’s companion. To add insult to injury, his father-in-law then offered his other daughter to Samson.

In a rage, Samson declared war on the Philistines (his father-in-law’s people) by torching their grain fields and olive orchards (Judges 15:1-5). The destruction affected the Philistines both economically and religiously, because they believed in gods of harvest, among others. In retaliatory revenge, the Philistines burned Samson’s wife and father-in-law to death (Judges 15:6). Ironic.

Samson vowed not to stop his rampage until he exacted revenge for his wife and father-in-law. He subsequently attacked and slaughtered many Philistines (Judges 15:7–8).

The Philistines retaliated by hunting down Samson, attacking the town of Lehi on the way. Three thousand men of Judah confronted the Philistines to ask why they were coming against them. When the Philistines named Samson as the culprit, the men of Judah found Samson and handed him over (Judges 15:9–13).

But Samson wasn’t finished. He picked up the jawbone of a donkey and killed one thousand men with it. One thousand men. All of this destruction and mayhem started with Samson, his father-in-law, and a goat.

Why are we so bent toward revenge? What is it that makes revenge alluring?

When it comes to revenge there are two basic types:

Active revenge: This kind of revenge moves aggressively toward our offenders. Perhaps a family member says something derogatory about your spouse. You immediately take offense and start telling the rest of the family about their many faults (whether secret or not). Active revenge always hurts far more people than we realize.

Passive revenge: This kind of revenge deceptively looks like forgiveness. Passive revenge does not move aggressively toward the offender, but takes the form of withholding, cold shoulders, or secretly celebrating when something negative happens to them. It is forgiveness lip service, not a genuine movement toward it.

Revenge tells God, “You’re in my seat.” When I choose to take revenge, I alone determine the severity of a person’s transgression, the proper method of punishment, and the time frame in which it needs to occur. Revenge inflates the ego because I alone determine that God is not moving fast enough or meting out what I believe is appropriate judgment. Consequently, I take matters into my own hands and execute judgment. Revenge means failing to entrust my wound to God’s justice.

Revenge always escalates. An offense can start with something as small as the rolling of eyes at someone’s behavior in a social setting. But it doesn’t end with reciprocated rolling eyes. It always escalates. Remember Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? The feud between the Capulets and the Montagues was “bred on an airy [misspoken] word.” Multiple civil brawls later, Romeo and Juliet died in their efforts to be together.

Revenge always inflames and creates an inflated ego that says, “I have the right to pay back the hurt they inflicted on me.” And back and forth it goes.

Forgiveness begins when you drop the jawbone.

When you find yourself in a situation where there is a nonstop back and forth, decide to put down the jawbone of revenge and back away. Forgiveness starts by refusing to participate in the game and stepping forward to end it.

Maybe we need to ask ourselves how much revenge is enough until we feel better? until our anger subsides?

The anger we feel from pain makes revenge seem logical. But anger can escalate quickly into rage and even hatred. Anger is an impossible blockade on the road toward forgiveness. That blockade can be removed only when we surrender the underlying pain to God for healing.

God takes our pain on Himself, so use God as the lightning rod for your anger. The psalmists did exactly that in Psalms 7; 10; 17; and 28. God alone is our avenger. Remember Job? There are dozens of places in the book where Job unloads his anger, frustration, and wounds onto God, along with a little sarcasm (Job 10:3). God can take all of those emotions and knows best how to handle them.

When someone wrongs us, instead of groping for a verbal weapon, reach for the Word of God: “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance” (Ephesians 6:18).

Instead of hitting our enemy, we can hit our knees. We can pray earnestly for God to heal our pain, remove our anger, and work forgiveness in us so we can extend it wholeheartedly to those who hurt us.

Instead of feeding our hurt, we can feed our heart. Relentlessly confess, repent, lay your hurt at His Table, and receive His forgiveness that refreshes.

God alone is our righter of wrongs. The power or responsibility does not lie with us (Romans 12:19).

Forgiveness relinquishes all rights to punish our wounders and give them over to Christ. God is a God of justice as much as a God of love. Forgiveness does not mean that our wounders get off the hook; it recognizes that we are not the righteous judge of sin. That authority belongs to Christ alone.

Follow Jesus, not the path of revenge.

Drop the jawbone.

It stinks to high heaven.

Literally.

**The winner of the Forgiveness book release giveaway is CAROL ALBERTS!  I’ll reach out to you today, Carol. Congratulations and God’s blessings! **

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“Forgiveness” Book Release & Giveaway

   

These are the days when our culture seems to embrace rage. But we look around at the brokenness and perhaps we wonder … don’t we all need a whole lot more forgiveness?

We turn on the TV or scroll through social media and see drama-filled outrage over things that will be forgotten by dinner. And I can’t help but ask: why are we so angry? What cut our fuse so short that we’re constantly blasted and damaged?

Perhaps it’s time that we look each other in the eye and admit we need each other — that forgiveness paves a better way. A holier road.

But how do we handle the pain we can’t contain? those memories that track us down like blood hounds on a scent?

Maybe what overwhelms us the most is feeling like no one understands.

Been there, done that. Hence, this book.

Because rage will cage us unless we forgive.

If there’s one thing I’ve come to understand is forgiving is an act of giving: For God so loved — He gave. 

Forgiving gives life. Forgiveness restores freedom. Not for our offenders. For us.

I’ve lived the rage and know that forgiveness has radically transformed my life. When we trust Him, God can turn our anger into outrageous abundance.

After struggling and failing, and learning and growing, very slowly, I started to write. Does forgiveness make any sense in a raging world? In a raging heart?

Yes, it most certainly can.

And I didn’t even know if writing this made sense, so I reached out to people much wiser than I. They affirmed then, and they affirm now — if the world doesn’t see forgiveness from God’s people and among God’s people, they won’t see it at all.

I mean how can people learn if the examples are huddled and trembling behind locked doors like the disciples after Jesus was crucified?

So these wonderfully wise people, here’s what they said:

Turn these pages, immerse yourself in God’s comforting, refining Word, and walk with Donna away from the burden of bitterness and into the liberating lightness of forgiveness.” —Michelle DeRusha, author of Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk

Readers will want to grab a journal to document the lessons and Bible verses the author encourages readers to write down, helping to imprint God’s truths.” —Jan Wendorf, Past LWML President

Donna…uses Scripture and beautiful language to remind us of the power of Jesus at work in us, making forgiveness in every relationship possible.” —Angie Goeke, author, musician, speaker

She recognizes the losses involved in forgiveness and she doesn’t shy away from calling out the lies and cultural myths that stand as barriers to forgiveness and freedom.” —Heidi Goehmann, author, speaker, deaconess

In this study Donna helps us better understand the forgiveness God lavishly offers to all through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and how He desires for us to live forgiven and forgiving lives. ” —Rev. John and Debra Heckmann, St. Paul Lutheran Church, The Grove, Texas

“I wasn’t aware of the unforgiveness packed deep in my heart. … As I read the book I was better equipped to break through the walls that were built in my heart.” —Mia Koehne, Singer/Songwriter, Host of Aspire Women’s Event Tour

So I hold this book out to you with hope-filled hands, praying that God uses it to open the cages of rage and usher in the freedom of forgiveness. And to celebrate…

I’m giving away a grand prize to one lucky subscriber:

  • Two signed copies of Forgiveness: Received From God, Extended to Others (one to keep, one to share)
  • A brand new Kindle e-reader: black, 6-inch, Wi-Fi enabled, glare-free touch screen
  • A set of four Scripture mugs to share coffee with your Forgiveness study group
  • A $25 Amazon gift card
  • Two sets of Forgiveness scripture cards

TO WIN:

  • Subscribe to this blog (look to the right)
  • Comment below and let me hear your thoughts on the topic of forgiveness
  • Share this book release link and tag me on your social media channels (each share generates an additional entry)

The winner will be announced on Tuesday’s regularly-scheduled blog post.

I pray that God uses Forgiveness in ways only He can fathom or imagine to transform our raging culture to a forgiving one. It’s such an honor to serve you, friends. Thank you.

Join me tonight for a Facebook livestream book launch celebration!