(This entry is a continuation of previous)
What I have learned through ministering to people like our imaginary couple Carol and Bob, is that it quickly becomes evident that on some level- and I am not always sure they realize it- the former-victim-turned-offender (Carol) is enjoying the grilling the other person gets because it validates their anger and bitterness toward them for these (in some cases) long standing sins.
Likewise, the former-offender-turned-victim (Bob)is realizing that they are not necessarily the scum of the earth they have been made out to be since they repented of their sin!
So the focus of the people helping must be balanced equally between the victims and offenders, of which there are now 2 of each!
Observation has taught me that usually by the time we get to a married couple round table the original offender has repented and has begun to demonstrate the good fruit of that repentance. He/she is confused as to why things in the marriage are still going so badly overall and why their spouse reacts and responds the way they do.
The challenge in any of these situations is to move beyond the victim mentality, cease being the offender, and go forward in a restored relationship.
For that to take place the heart must be affected in the areas of forgiveness, pride, anger and its resulting bitterness, and fear just to name a few places to begin with Carol. A person has really got to be willing to humble themselves in such a case but I can think of no better place to start the work than in the area of pride.
No matter what the resulting issues may be, it is imperative that we remember that God is actively opposing the prideful person. He is standing against you if you are prideful and self-righteous! (Jas. 4:6) This thinking often arises out of the misbelief that you are incapable of such a deed as has been done to you. That you are too holy, too good, too sanctified to ever be caught up in such sin. Well, that maybe true for whatever the specific sin is that has been done against you or by your husband but I promise you that you are capable of something just as grievous to God. You must repent.
Remind yourself daily of your need for the gospel! God will take care of your husband (of offender); you must now focus on your own sinful areas. (Rom 12:18, 1 Thes. 4:11)
Remember that you are also unworthy of forgiveness, and mercy and grace! Demonstrate the kind of forgiveness that God has:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
God’s forgiveness of you is conditional only in the sense that a person belongs to Him to receive it. He forgave us in eternity past when He predestined us to be His children (Eph. 1) and He throws our sin as far as the ends of the earth. (Ps. 103:12) God does not “forget” our sin; he chooses to remember it no more! (Jer. 31:34; Heb. 10:17) You can do the same!
…seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3
Although I only quoted verse 3 for space reasons, the following verses to 8 are also quite appropriate to remind us what we have been enabled to do and what God expects from us as a result. Choose today to remember no more the sin of the one who has hurt you. Tell him or her you forgive them from the heart because it glorifies God to do so and then determine to never again bring it up to them, yourself, or anyone else.
Do not give in to the temptation to manipulate by emotions. Ask yourself if what you want to do glorifies God. Determine to attack the problems before you, not the person. Anger is an emotion given by God to motivate us to solve problems not to hurt each other by. (Eph. 4:26,27)
You will be amazed at how these little steps can make such a difference in your heart and life and these people and relationships you have struggled with for so long. You don’t need to avenge yourself or to be afraid of being made a fool of. God, who sees all and knows all will honor your desire to follow Him and to honor Him by how you live.
Go forward in freedom from the past!