Monday, November 19, 2012

Sheri Rose Shepherd: Fighting to Forgive and Forget the Former Things

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Sheri Rose Shepherd

Fighting to Forgive and Forget the Former Things

By Sheri Rose Shepherd
Bestselling Author and Bible Life Coach

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How do we forget the former things? Is there some magic prayer that wipes out our memories so we won’t feel the pain of our past? I wish I could say that this is the way to find a new foundation for your life. Yet God teaches us through Isaiah 43 that our past does not determine our future. He wants us to embrace the new beginning He offers us and to stop living in yesterday. However, to let go of our past, we will have to leave it where it belongs . . . at the Cross.

I was powerfully reminded of this again through Alice, whom I met recently at a retreat. I had been talking about rebuilding relationships, and when I finished, I walked over to the door to say good-bye to each of the ladies. I loved hearing how God spoke to them throughout the weekend, and Alice gave me renewed hope. She was seventy years old and had been married over fifty years.

I was captivated by the joy that lit up her face. She radiated from the inside out, and her smile made me feel at home. I thought Alice must have lived a wonderful life to glow with God's glory the way she did. I had to ask her what her secret was. Her response reflected a woman who was beautifully broken.

She said, "When I lost the husband I loved to my best friend, I lost everything that was dear to me, including my children. However, I discovered how much my Lord truly loves me because of that loss, and I have never been the same because of His love."

My eyes welled with tears as she shared with me the story of how her husband had served her divorce papers on their fortieth wedding anniversary. Devastated and overwhelmed by grief, she set the papers aside without signing them. She fought to understand why God did not protect her marriage after all she had sacrificed to remain faithful, even in the hard and unhappy years.

Despite their challenges, she said she loved this man and never dreamed she would be alone in her older years. Though they lived apart for seven years, something inside her soul continued to keep her from signing those divorce papers. Late one night, though, she finally decided to move on and let go of the man she loved. With sad resolve, she signed the papers. Once she had done so, she felt free for the first time in many years.

Until the doorbell rang. It was 2 a.m., and she was a little fearful of who might be at her door in the middle of the night. When she opened the door, she was shocked to see her husband, Bill, on his knees with tears in his eyes and torn-up divorce papers in his hand.

He looked into her eyes and asked her for something he did not deserve: “a chance to finish my life with you.” Bill told her he had just awakened from a dream he believed God had given him, showing how his actions were crumbling the foundation of the faith of his children and grandchildren―all for the sake of his own pleasure. When he woke up, he could not wait until morning. He had to run to his wife.

He knew he owed her a sincere apology, but he wanted so much more. He wanted a second chance, and he was willing to do whatever it took to rebuild what he had broken in her heart. She stood there silently until she heard the Lord whisper to her, "Today, Alice, is the day I am giving you a choice between life and death for your family. I am asking you to trust Me with this broken man and choose life, so that your legacy of faith can live on in your children through your obedience to Me."

She asked for a few days to pray; Bill told her to take whatever time she needed to decide.

Alice said she fought through the biggest internal battle she had ever experienced as she reflected on the past seven years away from this man. After all, she had finally healed from his betrayal and feared she might reopen the wound that had taken so long to heal. She wrestled through every emotion—from feeling ripped off, being rejected, and now receiving an offer to be rescued.

Alice knew her choice would write the rest of her life story and her husband’s story. After many tears and much prayer for the strength to forgive her husband, Alice surrendered to God's will and gave up her rights to take revenge. God blessed the hard choice Alice had made to forget the former things and finish her life with her husband in spite of all he had done. And they finished strong!

Yes, Bill was wrong, and yes, he was unfaithful and caused much damage to many lives, including his own. There is no excuse for his actions, and Alice had every right to make him suffer for what he had done. However, her extremely hard decision to forget the former things will leave a legacy of love that will live on long after they are gone.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for this BEAUIFUL story of restoration.
I’ve been waiting 9 years for my husband to return.
Please pray or him.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I were married 18yrs. when everything fell apart. At his suggestion we separated and stayed that way for 6 1/2 yrs. It had been hard from the start. Even though we were both Christians when married it was a constant struggle and I blame myself a lot. I was so unprepared. Eventually I was the one that during our separation stepped out just one night. knew it was wrong but I had become so detached from the marriage at that time and us being apart. He asked and I confessed. I had been sending red flags for awhile but he gave up the spiritual fight.We have 2 daughters. During those separation years I prayed, fasted, and prayed more. Not dating and to no avail. It's funny that I stumbled across this tonight. t's been a really hard day with depression and he came to my mind. After my one night of stumbling I immediately repented and never saw that person again. I can't begin to put into words the guilt, shame, and condemnation that stays with you. I'm just finally getting some of my life back but I still pray for him. I'm still single and pray for my daughters who are in their 20's and all that our failures did to them. Asked God to forgive me of my failure in representing His love, as a mother and a wife. Have fought a lot of depression/anxiety. I'm happy for this couple and God's restoration of their marriage. This all started in 2005 and I'm now beginning to feel I even deserve to enjoy my life but I know God forgives and wants to restore all involved. Remake the clay however He sees fit. Please pray for me and our family as well. Whatever the Lord's will may be. I'm 53 and I've grown use to being alone but I have times I feel I need someone and don't have a lot of close people in my life. It would be nice to have someone to be with.And if my ex came back with a humble and forgiving heart towards me I would want to try again. I know I still care for him but like I said. Whatever the Lord's will is. There does come a time to let go just like this lady finally did. Her husband obviously responded to God's message. There is free will so sometimes we have to move on due to the unwillingness of the other person. Just love God and move on.He has a plan.Sometimes when we finally let go that's when God can do his best. Blessings to everyone.

Michelle said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I wish I could take away your hurt! God DOES forgive and I will keep you in my prayers!