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When Forgiveness Doesn’t Come
By Elisabeth Klein Corcoran
Being a divorced Christian woman means that I have asked pretty much everyone I have ever met for forgiveness. And I have done that because I have felt that I have let every single person down that I know. I failed my church family. I failed my friends. I failed my parents, my siblings. I failed my children. I failed my ex-husband. I failed myself. I failed God. Because I messed up. I didn’t choose to just hold on to my marriage no matter what. I daringly asked for help, shedding light on our disintegrating marriage as opposed to staying quiet. I signed the divorce papers as opposed to fighting it in court. That’s a lot of amends to make, a lot of forgiveness to wait for. From most of these people, I have gotten the all clear. The we’re good’s. I have gratefully—and somewhat surprisingly—experienced deeper grace and compassion since my divorce than any other time in my life. But then there are some others who just can’t—or won’t—offer their forgiveness to me. In those instances, I must sit with the weight of disapproval over my life, knowing that in some people’s eyes, I don’t only not measure up, I have sinned too much for their liking. This has been my greatest lesson on forgiveness through this entire painful process: I cannot get everyone’s approval or forgiveness or grace. But I also must learn to live without it. And the way that I can is because I choose to believe that only one opinion of me matters. “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (I Corinthians 4:3-4, NIV) n
Elisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage and speaks several times a month to women’s groups. She is a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild and has traveled to Haiti and Sierra Leone, and led a team of women to Liberia with Samaritan’s Purse doing AIDS work. She lives with her children in Illinois. Visit her online at elisabeth corcoran.com.