I had my first girlfriend, A, at 18.
It was wonderful. I loved her and accepted her for who she really was. We were happy until the day I realised that A was seeing someone else without my knowledge. I didn’t know how to react. I felt betrayed that my trust was broken. I felt angry because how could a Christian do such a thing?
At 20, I started getting closer to B. I loved being around her. It was fun. I’ll never forget the nights we rocked out at concerts, watching Arsenal matches or the late night drives spent just hanging and talking. But we never got together, and one day she started to avoid me. I never knew why until 2 years later when I found out that she was dating a guy who I mentored.
I was furious for being a fool again.
Then at 22, I met C. It was going well and there were plans to ask her to be my girlfriend. We jammed to music together and geeked out to our favourite anime. I still remember Thursday was my favourite day because I’d get to send her home and spend time with her. But yet again, I was betrayed by C because of another guy.
Three times, I was betrayed and cheated on.
The betrayals broke me. I knew only fury and anger towards these people. I wanted justice. Furious, I let rage consumed me.
So I turned towards porn. In particular, a genre called “bondage.” Bondage binds women with ropes and “punishes” them by sexually abusing them. I felt satisfaction and release seeing these women suffer. “They deserve it,” was what I thought to myself each time I scrolled through page after page of bondage porn.
Pornography was the only twisted form of justice I knew. I wanted to see justice being served. I couldn’t bring myself to forgive them and let go all of the emotional hurts I went through. True release was forgiveness, but I wasn’t even close.
Forgiveness is a conscious day-to-day decision and not a one-off thing.
But I think one of the great examples of forgiveness of all is found in the Gospel of Luke.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
It’s mind-boggling how Jesus could forgive the people actively killing Him. Forgiving means releasing a person from the debt owed to you, even if they will never come to understand the depth of the hurt they’ve caused.
Forgiveness is a conscious day-to-day decision and not a one-off thing. It is both letting the debtor and yourself off the hook. It’s surrendering the post-traumatic emotional baggages to God for His healing.
I’ve caught a glimpse of how Jesus feels when we betray His love for other things in life.
It must be excruciating when one person betrays Him, let alone 6 billion people on the planet betraying Him each and every day. It puts my pain in perspective.
So I constantly pray and acknowledge that I am a sinner and because Jesus forgives me – I choose to forgive others.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Till this day, I struggle with the vast head knowledge that cannot yet be translated into the heart. I still struggle to forgive every day. The events that I went through keep replaying in the wee hours of the night. The emotions become alive and intensified and yet the most ridiculous decision of all is the best one: To lay it all down at the throne of grace.
This pain is something I have to live with for now, but I know that He is patient and He is there for me.
So what now?
A was just happily married 5 days ago. B is happily engaged and just graduated from university. C is trusting in the Lord and working in the mission field.
But now my heart feels strangely warm typing this, knowing that they’re fine.
For myself, I am thankful that I am loved by Jesus. I am loved by my family, my partner and my community. I’m thankful that even though I have so many baggages, my girlfriend loves me and is there for me and accepts me for who I am, that she is willing to give me a chance to go through life together with her.
I’m thankful to Jesus that even though I’m a broken vessel, I am still “crowned with glory and honour”. I still struggle with pornography and forgiveness, but I am pressing on towards righteousness as God’s work-in-progress.