A Message of Forgiveness?

Yesterday morning, I picked up a book of reflections my sister gave me when I got married. Each day there is a passage to read from a author (a minister of faith), whom I also follow on my Facebook page. I read the passage for the day, it was all about forgiving our enemies. It spoke of forgiveness and moving on. What forgiveness does for us and how important it is in our growth both personally and spiritually. I had to run some errands before “vacation” and I needed to stop at our local drugstore. As I was getting ready to leave the store, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the man I had an affair with about twenty years ago. The affair ruined my marriage and I take full responsibility in the part I played. Months ago, this might have not seemed so rare, as he was famous for callling me non-stop at work, “finding” me in town and seeking every excuse to casually run in to me (I’m not even confident that this was a random meeting, as he might have seen my car in the parking lot). I am strong in my convictions (much stronger than I was many years ago when we started our affair) and I’ve always felt like I could handle his constant excuses to see or talk to me. One of the problems is, he and my current husband absolutely despise each other (and that’s putting it mildly). He is the highest ranking police officer in town and has tried to use that power to intimidate my husband, who has absolutely no fear and certainly no respect for him. My current husband watched me “fall apart” when my marriage ended (my choice) and although I’ve tried to explain to him that I was a willing participant in the affair, puts most, if not all, of the blame on the “psychological abuse” I endured at the hands of a very manipulative person. They have literally gone toe to toe, and their relationship is very ugly! One day at work, about six months or so ago, he began calling me every two seconds, I was adamant about not picking up the phone, at the time things were very volatile with my current husband and him and I knew nothing good could come of speaking with him. He likes to reminisce about the good times in our affair (and there were many). He has never been able to accept the fact that I got a divorce (something he had done early on in our affair) and didn’t choose to be with him. I finally had to pick up the phone, as I know him so well, and knew he wouldn’t stop calling until I did. Our last conversation consisted of me telling him (for the millionth time) that he could not call me. His excuse (he always has one) was that he was calling to wish me a Merry Christmas, ironically the call came a day after I had filed for a marriage license in town to get married on Christmas Eve. I hadn’t heard from him since and rarely saw him driving in town (which is uncommon, as we live in a very small town and he lives about two blocks from me) so things had been “quiet.” My reaction when I saw him was to do a “double take” and say “hey.” Then for some reason and I’m not sure why, we began to talk. I have no romantic feelings for him, but I don’t hate him anymore. Was this God’s way of showing me that forgiveness is healing? We talked for quite some time about our families (he was shocked to hear my mom had passed and asked why I didn’t call to let him know, he would have sent flowers from the police department where I used to work with him, um, that would have gone over big). We talked about the town and people we know in common, my current job, just general conversation. I found that I wasn’t uncomfortable, it was like having a conversation with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. When I left, the guilt kicked in big time. I hadn’t done anything inappropriate, but my husband would be furious if he found out. Of course he asked me to keep in touch (which I won’t) and threw in a “you could always come back” (which I won’t). I left with such mixed emotions, I thought I loved this man at one time (it was a ten year affair) and determined through heartache, much pain and the destruction of myself and my marriage, I didn’t, yet I don’t hate him (as I probably should). I’d like to say that I’ve forgiven him. I asked myself if the passage I read earlier had anything to do with why I stopped to talk, instead of hightailing it out the door. Is it okay that I’ve chosen to forgive? The problem is I know him so well and I can’t help but think I’ve opened a door. I will never be with him, I’m not even tempted, but what have I brought on? Perhaps nothing, but I doubt that. He is by far the most persistent man I’ve ever met and because of his position, he’s used to getting what he wants. I have no worries for myself, but have I deceived my husband by not telling him, or have I taken a step toward forgiveness and therefore a step in self betterment, healing and faith? This morning, I’m very conflicted. I have to admit the last time I spoke to him (before yesterday) I was so angry, I was ready to file a restraining order, yet yesterday, I felt peace. My affair left my family and myself devastated, yet they have all gotten over it (including my ex husband, who has told me he has forgiven me) but I was holding on to anger, bitterness, shame and guilt (such destructive emotions). I’m certain some of this is fueled by my current husbands hate for this man (and he hates no one), even though he rarely speaks of it, the whole situation makes him physically ill. I can’t help but ask myself if this was a test, if God stopped me from running to give me the chance to forgive, to heal myself, to become a better person. I certainly hope so. I will not dwell on what might happen in the future, on the message he might have taken from me by the fact that I stopped to talk. I will instead, dwell on my ability to forgive, the way I felt when I left the store, the peace I felt in knowing I had put a horrific experience behind me and focus on the message I read that morning about the grace I will receive through forgiveness. If he does try to continue to contact me, I will ask God for the strength to be firm, yet not angry and to remember that the forgiveness I extended was not to make him feel better or excuse his behavior, but to heal my own soul. I will remember that Jesus chose love over hate and forgave the most horrific betrayal of his enemies and those he called friends and I will do my best to follow his example.

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