Posted by: Arden Compton | August 27, 2013

Forgiving the addict

When a person engages in pornography, this often causes significant pain to others. The wife, parents, or other significant people in the life of the pornography viewer often feel betrayed and deeply hurt. Trust has been broken, and it can be very challenging for the relationship to heal. It takes time for trust to be rebuilt.

As I have visited with many couples, it is fairly common for a wife to feel that what her husband has done is unforgivable, and that she will never be able to trust him again. It is not my place to tell a women when it is safe to trust her husband again, but I do strongly recommend that the wife forgives her husband as quickly as possible. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you trust yet, it is simply leaving the past in the past, letting go of judgement & blame, and letting God be the judge. It isn’t sugar coating the problem, or pretending there isn’t a significant concern. It is letting go of afflicting emotions or hurt, anger, betrayal, unloved, etc. When the wife forgives the offending husband it frees her from the burden of these painful emotions.

Let me give you an example of this principles. This is a different situation, but the principles are the same. Years ago I had a job on a ranch as a foreman. There was a manager who was my boss. He gave me instructions on what needed to be done, and I went to the other guys and let them know what we needed to do. After I had been foreman for a couple of weeks, I noticed one the farm hands working on something other than what I had assigned him. I rode my 4-wheeler over to him and asked him why he was working on this instead of what I had asked him to do. He said he was talking with the manager, and he had asked him to do this instead. Later I asked the manager about this, and he confirmed that he had given him a different assignment. No problem. A few days later the same thing happened. Then it started happening every day, which really got on my nerves. I didn’t know why the manager gave me instructions for him, and then gave him different instructions later. I learned that this guy just didn’t want to do what I told him to do. He worked hard, but never at what I told him to do. After a while he dropped all pretense that he had any intention of doing what I asked him to do, he would even turn his back to me when I was giving instructions to the other workers. This was really ticking me off, it made my gut boil that he had no respect for me at all. After this had been going on for a few weeks, I was wondering what to do, because I wanted to be happy, and this made me very unhappy. As I was pondering and praying about the problem I had an impression that came to mind: “You need to apologize to him”  I need to apologize to him? That didn’t make any sense, I couldn’t think of anything I had done to him, so I ignored the impression. A few days went by, and I was again pondering and praying on what I should do, because I didn’t want this feeling in my gut. Again the impression came, “You need to apologize to him.” The idea still didn’t make any sense to me, but rather than dismissing it, I asked a follow up question, “What do I need to apologize for?” Then another impression came, “You have been angry at him and your anger is wrong. You need to apologize to him.” This was a shocking idea to me, I didn’t think my anger was wrong, it was the other guy who was acting like a jerk, I was just doing my job… I was the good guy here! But as I considered the possibility of apologizing to him, I felt a slight easing of the boiling feeling in my gut, so I decided it was worth trying, even though it was very counter-intuitive to me. A few days went by, and I saw this guy go into a small tool shed by himself. I decided I just needed to get it over with. I ran over to the tool shed and went in. He turned around as I came in the door, and he looked surprised to see me. I walked up to him and said, “I have been angry with you, and my anger is wrong. I apologize, please forgive me.” His jaw dropped, and he kind of stammered, “Oh…well…hey….its OK…. um…” and he brushed by me and went out the door. I wasn’t trying to get him to apologize, I wasn’t hoping he would say, “No, it’s all my fault, I’m the one that needs to apologize.” I had not agenda regarding his response, I was just doing what I felt needed to be done. Once I had done this, I felt a huge relief. I walked out of that tool shed feeling like I was walking on air. I couldn’t believe how light I felt. It amazed me to realize it wasn’t what he was doing that was making me miserable, it was my anger at what he was doing that was making me miserable. As I apologized for my wrong, I think I was also forgiving him. After that I was free, I was no longer his victim. I was happy. Even though he continued to ignore me, his actions never upset me again. I was free to be happy even though he was making bad choices.

So, just be aware, as wrong as it is for a man to view pornography, the thing that might be hurting you the most is your response to this. No one can hurt us without our permission. As you dig deep and seek the Lord’s help in forgiving him, you will free yourself. Forgiveness is not about letting the other person off the hook; it is about turning judgment over to Christ and freeing yourself from painful emotions that are there because of your response. Your response may be very normal, you may think it is justified, but as you let it go you will find freedom. Only then can your marraige/relationship heal, only then can trust begin to be rebuilt.

God bless you -Arden

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