How can I feel forgiven?




I am  sorry you think I lied to you.  I just wanted your view.  I haven't been able to get my Pastor to talk to me.  He just walked away and said he couldn't help when I told him what my husband did to me.  I needed spiritual counsel and had no one to ask.  I sought the Bible for answers and prayed for an answer to my hurt and heartache. 

No, I did not know my husband was like this and he did not show any signs of any of this until we had been married for a year or so.  I was so scared I went to my father and his father begging for help.  I felt trapped and didn't know what to do.  I just did my best to be the Christian wife I knew I should be and hoped that God would change him.  After 25 years of marriage he continued to become more and more abusive to the point I thought he was going to kill me.  We had been to several counselors over the years we were married, but he thought they were all stupid and wouldn't listen to any of their advice.

I sought out help from our youth minister of the church and thought things would change, but they only changed as long as they asked him how he was doing in his relationship with me.  When they stopped asking he would grow violent.  I felt I did the only thing I had left to do and that was to divorce him.  I did this not lightly but after much prayer.  You see, I felt like he made me an enabler because nothing I did was right.  I felt very demeaned.  If I tried to make him happy, it would backfire. If I didn't try to make him happy, it would backfire.  I didn't know what to do anymore.  He tried to make me miserable in everything that made me happy.  He did this because he was so unhappy with himself, and he didn't want anybody else to be happy.  I enjoy serving the Lord in the choir and teaching children in church.  I have been a Sunday School teacher for fourteen years, but he would put that down too.  He told me I was a bad mother, wife, etc.  I was not good at anything in his eyes.   It is still hard for me to know that God loves me and that I am ok.

You say I should have seen signs.  What signs.  I saw none.  My only mistake was knowing he wasn't a Christian, when I married him, and I know that was wrong -- do not become unequally yoked.  I have beaten myself up for this a lot.  I thought he would see Christ in me enough to want to be a Christian too.  I thought he had, but he never really did. 

I believe, as you do, I can never be married again. For that I am sad, but know that is the consequence of my divorce.  I married my husband until death do us part, as I said in my vows.  I have asked God to forgive me if I disappointed Him and did wrong in His eyes.  I feel like He has.  I did pray for a long time before I made this decision.  I am going to a Christian counselor and she said I did the right thing.  She said I would have been dead if I had stayed with him.  So why does everyone view me as a bad person? I was trying to save my life and my kids lives.  I just don't understand why I am being looked down on.  Was I suppose to stay and be killed?

How will I ever feel God loves me and understands what I did if people in the church don't?  Some people in the church say I did the right thing, Others say I did the wrong thing.  It makes me confused and confusion comes from Satan.  So how am I to know what was right, and if I did do the wrong thing, how will I ever feel forgiven?

It is small wonder that you are confused. You are approaching the question of whether you did right in leaving your husband by using unstable standards. At one point in your letter you state that you feel that God has forgiven you, but by the end you wonder if you can feel forgiven.

Feelings are a lousy standard for determining whether an action is morally right or wrong because feelings can be manipulated. God warned, "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). Instead of reasoning things out based on God's word, you have sought the opinions of many people. As you have found, people have more opinions than there are people on the earth. Even if everyone you knew thought you did wrong, it would not necessarily mean that you were wrong. It might be a cause to stop and reflect on the accuracy of your reasoning, but the opinions of other people do not determine what is right or wrong.

After all, Jesus warned, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). The majority is not an accurate guide in determining what is morally correct.

There is only one standard that can be used: "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.'" (Matthew 28:18). It only matters that you please God and God has given us His word to tell us what pleases Him. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (II Timothy 3:16-17). If what you have done is in accordance with God's teaching, then trust Him to honor His word because it is by God's word we will be judged, not man's. "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him --the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).

What happens if we fail to measure up to God's standard? We need to be humble enough to admit we were wrong -- not because other claim we are wrong, but because we see in God's word that we failed. It will sadden us to realize that we failed our Lord, but "godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted" (II Corinthians 7:10). Repentance means we don't wallow in our sin, but we leave the sin behind. "For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (I Corinthians 7:11).

When we discover we have done wrong, we need to pray to God because God wants us to admit our faults. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:8). But prayer alone won't gain forgiveness if we remain in our sins. If I am a habitual liar, and pray to God to forgive me of my lies, but I make no effort leave off my lying ways, then I haven't repented. I prove in my heart that I really don't think that lying is wrong; instead, I am demanding that God accept me as I am and not as I should be. A prayer of faith implies a prayer of commitment to change. "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:5).

The point I'm trying to make is that you approached the problem of forgiveness backwards. You haven't determined with certainty that what you did was right. But you sought God out in prayer asking for forgiveness for what you are not certain was wrong. "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:6-8). The confidence cannot come because I said so, or another minister said so, or even because you want to believe it is so. The only determiner for right or wrong is the word of God. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). Know that it is so because God revealed it to be true in His word. Then you can pray in confidence knowing that you did either right or wrong; and if wrong, asking God for forgiveness.

Perhaps it is time to search for a congregation that desires to live by the truth. Then they can help you search the Scriptures and live righteously before Him. "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him" (I John 2:3-5).