Pete's week of travel did not end well. His last night away he stayed in a hotel with no safe, and during the middle of the night he relented to temptation. The next morning, hours before he was to return home, he texted me his confession.
Of course I was angry and hurt. I cried briefly and then busied myself with the day's tasks. At first I was anxious for him to get home so he could see how angry and hurt I was. But the hours went by and not long before he was to arrive I read an article my brother had emailed me. The article had nothing to do with what was on my mind, but I felt the spirit and my heart was softened. As soon as I saw Pete, looking hurt and broken himself, I knew I wanted to forgive him.
Usually after a confession we go through an awkward time of my withdrawal. We avoid each other while I wallow in my frustrations, and him in his. I feel like the angrier I am and the more hurt I appear, the more he will realize how his actions effect me. I act this way until the spirit starts to work on me, and I feel like I've made my point. This time I knew right away that I didn't need to pout for days for him to understand how he his actions effect me. I offered immediate forgiveness and he offered genuine apologies and infinite gratitude.
Forgiveness has helped me personally to avoid feelings of bitterness and resentment. I feel close to Pete rather than angry at him. I've let go of thoughts of retaliation and ideas that I need to prove something to him or teach him a lesson.
The best way I can explain it is the way Pete said it. My immediate forgiveness has given us a "head-start". Instead of a time period of coldness and animosity in our home, that fosters further difficulties and temptations for Pete, our home is warm and encouraging. Together we are focusing on moving forward, letting go of the past and maintaining our hope for the future.
I was surprised at how quickly forgiveness came to me. It never has before, it may not always, and it probably doesn't come that quickly for everyone. But I can testify that the principle of forgiveness applies to me in my situation. It is a commandment with a wonderful blessing, it has healed my heart and ulitimately it will save my marriage.