The Fight For Forgiveness
This is one of those blog posts that turned into a tough love segment somewhere along the way. Mostly tough love for me. I learned a lot while writing this post.
It’s incredible to look back on years as specific benchmarks in our lives. I was born in 1980. I accepted Christ in 1989. I became a mom in 2001. I quit teaching to write full-time in 2011. Scott and I met in 2013. We married in 2015. These were all years that impacted my life significantly.
2017 is one of those years. My life changed forever on January 1, 2017. There have been moments of 2017 when I felt my spirit had been completely crushed to dust. Not broken pieces that could be put back together again. But DUST.
I heard Lysa TerKeurst speak at the Pink Impact conference a couple of months ago, and she said something that had a profound impact on me. Look what God did with dust in the bible. He breathed life into it and created man. Dust is used to make clay. We are the clay and He is the potter. He also mixed dust with his spit to form mud and perform a miracle by rubbing it on the eyes of the blind man so he could see. Her words gave me such hope in a season where I’d felt hopeless many times.
Before 2017, I was like the blind man who couldn’t see. I was a Christian. I’d accepted Christ in 1989 and was baptized shortly after. I was brought up in the church, and when my children were born I made sure they were brought up the same way. But I was not living my life for Christ. I didn’t know what true faith was until 2017. I didn’t know the true impact of prayer until 2017. It changed my life forever.
I wouldn’t wish my 2017 on anyone, because 2017 has been unbelievably painful. It’s also been a season of restoration and incredible healing. If I had to go through all the pain of 2017 again to get to the point I’m at now, in my relationship with Christ and my relationship with my husband, I’d do it all over again. That’s how powerful our God is.
The Lord definitely has a sense of humor, because He’s made sure I’ve gotten plenty of practice at both of my goals. I will confess that prayer and my walk with Christ has humbled my spirit and I’m able to say I’m sorry easily and ask for forgiveness. But forgiving others has been more of a challenge, especially in this new season of my life.
2017 has taught me how to forgive without strings and with grace. A mentor of mine and Scott’s did a great job illustrating how forgiveness works. As believers, God wants us to have the capacity to forgive. We need to forgive for ourselves, not for the offender. And I’m so grateful God forgives without strings and with unbelievable compassion and mercy. But because we forgive doesn’t mean the relationship has to be restored. Sometimes forgiveness is closure and a hard-stopping place in the relationship. And that’s okay. That was one of my big hang-ups about forgiveness. Sometimes people do irreparable damage. Forgive and release them. It’s truly easier than we make it.
In my personal dealings with forgiveness, I’ve found it’s much easier to forgive those you love, like your spouse or children. I know this from experience. But it’s not always easy to forgive those you don’t love. Or worse, those who have done an active disservice to you.
I’ll be honest, things haven’t always been smooth sailing for our marriage. The largest majority of rough waters we’ve experienced has been because of people outside of our marriage, whether it be friends, family, or exes.
Let me tell you a secret that’s probably no secret at all. The closer you and your spouse walk with Christ, the less those who don’t will understand you. They’ll question you, they’ll ridicule you, and they’ll reject you. And sometimes, they’ll intentionally make trouble for you. Satan LOVES that kind of discord, especially in a marriage.
Scott and I had a conversation the other day. It was a circumstance involving someone we have to deal with on a semi-regular basis who lives for discord. Someone who sees me as a threat to their position and is ready to draw battle lines by using foul language and gossiping untruths. One of their favorite tools is the divide and conquer method. The “this is just between us, there’s no need for Leah to be involved” kind of conversation. Fortunately, I have a husband who doesn’t fall into that trap and doesn’t keep secrets, even about the bad things this person was saying about me.
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” Proverbs 6:16-19
We’ve dealt with the same thing with certain family members. I wrote a blog post not long ago about pruning people from our lives who don’t add value. You can read it here. And what we discovered is that we don’t miss the people we’ve pruned from our lives. We don’t think about them or talk about them. It was very obvious right away how little value they added to our lives.
I’m the kind of person who likes to please everyone. So it hurts when someone doesn’t like me or spews hateful gossip. Scott doesn’t have these issues. He usually gets really quiet and lets it all roll off. He likes to let people keep talking and gather information for later. It’s the cop in him.
But our same mentor once told me that I need to learn to be a peacemaker, not a peacekeeper. There’s a difference, and I’m slowly learning the difference, though sometimes old habits are hard to break.
My immediate worry after Scott relayed the conversation was over gossip and slander. After all, this other person made sure to let Scott know all of the things already being said about me, some by pruned family members, though all untrue.
In truth, these people we’ve pruned from our lives know very little about me or our family at all. But such is the nature of people who let hate and bitterness invade their lives, and who cloak themselves in phrases like, “All we can do is pray for them” while living in darkness.
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14
Scott and I both live in the public eye, and though we share a lot of our lives with readers and followers, it’s a managed message and we share exactly what we want people to see. We don’t invite drama into our lives and we keep our message positive. Always. But sometimes the protective walls we build are invaded anyway, by no fault of our own. It’s times like these that learning to forgive is essential.
Scott’s response to my reaction of this person’s comments was, “So what? What can we do to stop the words of other people?” As much as I hate to admit it, the answer to that is nothing.
But that’s not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to be vindicated. I wanted to defend myself and have him defend me. I was tired of being the easy target.
My response was, “I’m not used to being talked bad about so brazenly.”
And then he replied, “You dealt with talk in your church when you got divorced. This should be nothing new.”
That’s true. There was talk when I was going through my divorce. But I realized at that point I handled the talk completely different. When I was going through my divorce I was working like a madwoman. I wasn’t there to hear secondhand gossip, defend myself, or do damage control. When I was home, I secluded myself and the kids in a protective bubble.
I literally walked away from the problem without a care, because I knew without a doubt that the only person who had a right to be in my business was God. I knew without a doubt that God was there to fight my battles if I let him. And I knew that I needed to become the woman God intended for me to be so I could move forward. I wasn’t that woman.
I’d lost sight of that somewhere with this latest incident. And I think it’s because we’ve been blasted with a lot of this lately, and most of it from people who we expected to know better.
Scott and I knew when we started this blog and we shared our faith and the importance of our marriage that satan would start attacking from every direction and through any means necessary. We prayed about it and we’ve been prepared for it. And we weren’t wrong.
It’s amazing how unresolved sin follows you, no matter how much you try to outrun it or forget it ever happened. It’s especially important in these matters to ask God for forgiveness, the offended for forgiveness, and learn to forgive yourself. That’s sometimes the hardest thing.
Since Scott and I met, I’ve dealt with an onslaught of attacks from various people–some who pretended to be friends, some from family, some from an ex, and some from women who wanted to be future Mrs. Silverii’s. They weren’t nice. And when they were nice it was even worse because there was usually a sharp blade behind their viper’s smile, ready to stab me in the back.
It was vicious at times, and many times I suffered in silence because Scott and I weren’t at a place in our relationship where we were communicating well. I was afraid to bring him my hurt. Many times I was blindsided with these people’s behavior. I wasn’t prepared for it. It’s not the environment I was raised in.
But all of these people had something in common. They’re users. They saw Scott as Chief of Police and they all had a use for him as long as he held a position where he could get them things, do things for them, give them status because he was related in some way, or get them out of trouble. It didn’t go ever well when he decided to retire and he was no longer of use.
Then they saw me. I’ve worked like a dog for the success the Lord has granted me. I understand in a heartbeat that it could all go away tomorrow. I understand how blessed we are, and that we have an obligation to be good stewards. This is God’s money. Not ours.
These same users saw, and still see me, as a way to have an easy payday. They’d want to work for me and collect a paycheck without actually working, they’d brazenly ask Scott for favors or money because they were broke, and then take trips to Cancun.
When we finally started saying “no,” they’d lash out and say it must be nice to be on perpetual vacation all the time, thinking that the hundred hour work weeks we put in and the hundred days of business travel per year, where I’ll sign books for eight hours straight, give all day workshops until my voice is hoarse, and be so booked up at conferences that I have to change clothes as I’m running from event to event (without eating all day) was just part of the glamorous life we were leading.
These things still happen. And frankly, I’m kind of tired of it. I’ve dealt with a lot of anger in 2017. But dealing with the anger is part of the process of forgiving. Anger is not a sin as long as you don’t sin in your anger. I’ve been angry with Scott, but when he asked for forgiveness and was truly repentant, I was able to forgive.
But I held onto the anger I had for these other people. My good friend Chermaine told me to say the words of forgiveness out loud, even if I didn’t mean them. God would work on my heart and soften it. So that’s what I did. For some of these people, I was able to speak forgiveness, mean it, and put a hard stopping place in our relationship. For others, it took months and months of speaking the words aloud before I was finally able to forgive.
Forgiveness is for our sake. Not for the sake of the offender.
Forgiving and releasing these people from my life brought a peace I haven’t felt since the beginning of our marriage. But we’ve decided with Christ at the center, we can withstand any storm together.
2017 has been a storm. And we’ve withstood it with the help of some incredible men and women of God. Praise the Lord for those people!
Just because we forgive doesn’t mean there won’t still be bumps in the road caused by the offender. Remember, satan loves discord. And he’ll use those people if an opening is available in your armor for their spears to pierce. This is sometimes especially difficult in a blended family or if satan is using an ex for repeated discord.
This latest incident, where an unknown war was raged upon me, is not the last, I’m sure. But here’s the thing; this person is fighting a war and I’m not even part of the battle. I don’t care. They can’t touch me. Because God has reformed me from the dust I’d become in January of 2017. My armor is strong. But my God is stronger.
These recent incidents have only reemphasized the choices we’ve made in our marriage up to this point. There was a reason God moved us to Texas and separated us from what we’d known. There was a reason we were led to Gateway Church and the ministries they have there. God had a plan for us, and He still has plans for us that we can’t even see on the horizon.
2017 has been a blessing.
A couple of weeks ago someone thought to give their opinion of how we do things in our marriage. From everything from our personal finances, to the decisions we make in our marriage, estate, and our children. Scott has always been very vocal about our priorities, and he talks about it quite a bit on his Brick Breakers site for men.
The priorities are this:
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5
“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.” Ephesians 5:22-23“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.” Ephesians 5:25-26
Children (all of them have equal standing, even though we’re a blended family)
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
There are other priorities in our marriage: We tithe 10% of our income no matter what it is each month, we don’t keep secrets from each other, we make decisions as equal partners (ranging from finances to children, even though we’re a blended family-we treat everything and everyone as ours).
(Side Note:) The above statement is very important. The word ours is a big deal, especially in a blended family where lines are easily drawn. The bank accounts are ours. Property is ours. And the children are ours. It’s so important that the kids and the exes know that one kid doesn’t take priority over the others.
We always stand beside each other, above all others. But those things are easy to do when God comes before anything else in our lives, and our marriage comes before our children.
Yes, our marriage comes before our children.
2017 has been a year of forgiveness, restoration in some cases, and letting go in others. There will continue to be those who strive for discord, but God is fighting those battles. All we have to do is give up the control and let him take the sword.