Monday Feature

The Forgiveness Song
By Teri Daniels © 2011

“What he did is unforgivable. Don’t you agree?”
Shelly asks this question nearly every time I see her.
I knew she didn’t want to hear my answer, so I gave her the sad grimace she expected, allowing her to continue to vent about her soon-to-be-ex-husband.
The first time she asked this question, I gave her the traditional Christian response, “God can forgive anything, and he can help us to forgive as well.” Shelly did not like my answer.
I knew her struggle came not just from the pain of her husband’s betrayal, but also from the fact that he never admitted to any wrongdoing. Instead he tried to shift all the responsibility for their pending divorce to her.
Somehow in his mind, he found a way to blame Shelly for his inability to hold a full-time job, his concealment of the foreclosure proceedings and the final straw—his betrayal of their wedding vows with an affair.
“The boys know what their father did. I don’t know how they will ever forgive him.”
My response was to tell Shelly I hoped her sons would be able to forgive him, for their sake. God’s word calls us to forgive so that we ourselves will be forgiven—but even scientific studies have shown how debilitating unforgiveness is to our mental and physical health. lists reduced risk of depression, anxiety, chronic pain, alcohol and drug abuse as just a few of benefits of forgiveness.
Every time I see my friend, she wears a stiff mask over the pain that seems fresh every day. After two years, divorce proceedings are finally underway. Her anger has been deepened by the need to live in a state of limbo—married, but without a husband.
When I assured Shelly that forgiveness did not mean she would stay married to him or ever trust him again, she continued to call his actions unforgiveable. I realized she could not even imagine forgiving her husband. She wanted to vent and she needed me to listen. Proverbs 25:20 says that to sing songs to a heavy heart is like vinegar poured on a wound. I wanted to bring healing, not vinegar, so I stopped singing the song of forgiveness.
For now, I continue to pray for Shelly’s emotional and spiritual health. I ask God to protect her sons from the belief that some sins cannot be forgiven. I imagine a world where her husband confesses his sin and asks forgiveness, but so far that has not happened. It may never happen.
Even so, I believe our all-powerful God can redeem every situation. I so wanted that for my friend that I tried to take her there myself. But she is still in the process of grieving her loss. Her heart is broken and she needs time to “bind up her wounds” before she can focus on obeying God’s word. She has lost a husband, a home, and even her future must now be re-imagined.
As her friend, I stand ready to encourage her to forgive—when the time is right. I pray one day soon, Shelly will share with me how God has helped her forgive the unforgiveable.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teri Daniels is an aspiring writer, the mother of two sons who has been blessed with three grandchildren. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. You may contact her at

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