434/444 Healing from Infidelity: Forgiveness is a Process
We spent some time talking about the stages of forgiveness now let's talk about the process of it.
Process is a key word. For too many believers, when instant forgiveness isn't achieved, his or her faith is doubted and shame is launched. "If you were a better Christian you would have forgiven me and this wouldn't need to be brought up." That's a toxic statement. Remember, forgiveness is a process.
I do know some who say forgiveness should happen right away. And some folks can actually go about it that way. I suspect on the Myers Briggs that these folks are high on S and T. That would indicate they are very concrete thinkers. For these men and women they may literally get to the place of forgiving after a few days and then begin to process all the data and emotions. That's fine, but it just doesn't have to be that way for everyone. None of us are really capable of forgiving the breaking of our marriage vows on our own. It's a supernatural experience dependent on a greater being than ourselves.
According to Lewis Smedes the first step in the process is to think. It's important to note that this process isn't linear, but we'll need to go through in some order. In reality life will be all over the map during this process.
So first, Think. Come to as much clarity as you can on what actually happened. It takes time to get a focus on what actually happened. Different details came out from Ann as time passed and at different times I realized ways I was hurt that I hadn't before. Ann wasn't withholding info. She just hadn't thought of it all and there was no way to say everything at once. Also, when a person gets used to concealing and lying there is much that gets shoved into a dark corner and may not come out for a while.
As I said at different times I would realize the affair was going on during past special times. I remember when it dawned on me that we purchased a house, actually two, during her affair. I was livid and it took some time to process that and work toward forgiveness. I actually asked her, "What made you think I would want to buy a house with you if you were having sex with somebody else?"
No way in my power to forgive that. But by continuing to take the step, thinking it through some more, take the next step, think it through some more, we moved forward.