Q. Last year, I was in a relationship that I truly regret. Even to this day, I don’t know if I have fully forgiven my ex-boyfriend in my heart. I still feel anger and regret whenever I see him. When I reflect on myself, I am disgusted that I am no better and am just as much a sinner as he is. Because this relationship led me to so much sin, I feel so far away from Jesus. I still feel pain and disgrace every time I think about it. But I want to forgive him because I want to be forgiven by God. What can I do?
A. First, understand that it makes you angry to be around him because we can’t recall a painful experience without also recalling the feelings that went with it. When you see him, you’re reminded of the experience and re-live the pain associated with it. It makes you angry all over again. Once you’ve forgiven him the anger and the pain will start to diminish and eventually it will go away altogether.
Forgiveness is often a “contrary to feelings” choice. That means you do it out of obedience to the Lord even if you don’t feel like it. But if you consciously reinforce your choice to forgive your ex whenever you’re angry, your feelings will eventually line up with your choice, and then you’ll know you’ve really forgiven him. You can accelerate the process by doing the following. 1) Ask God to help you to forgive him. 2) Ask God to forgive you for your anger. 3) Ask God to forgive him for his behavior.
You don’t need to trust him and you shouldn’t be around him until you can do so without reacting. As for your sin, Jesus has already forgiven you for all your sins (Colossians 2:13-14). The guilt you feel is from the enemy, trying to make you miserable. Resist him and he’ll flee from you (James 4:7). You do this by forgiving yourself. Ask God for help with that, too.