I have forgiven my ex-husband.
I state this, not as an accomplishment, but as a discovery. We were married for ten years and have been divorced for 40, and until today, whenever I have encountered him in the course of interactions with our mutual children, it took only the sound of his voice to draw up around me armor that would be the envy of any medieval knight, containing within a turgid mix of pain and anger and odds and ends of longing and need. I knew that, as a Christian, I had to forgive him ("...forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us ..."), and I could almost always manage to behave as if I had forgiven him, but inside here, on the tarnished side of the armor, I couldn't manage to feel as if I had forgiven him, indeed, couldn't manage to feel as if I really wanted to forgive him.
Let's be clear. He is/was not a monster. We're not talking Simon Legree here. But people can do damage to one another in intimacy. We have three children, and it seemed best to me not to make them too cognizant of just how happy I was to be divorced from their father, how angry and confused any contact with him made me.
Until today. We were both at my son's house to watch the University of Oregon/Michigan State University football game. And I realized that the armor wasn't there, and I didn't miss it. I ate one of the relatively tasteless cookies he'd brought, hugged him good-bye, exchanged trivialities about our shared history, and drove home feeling only elated that Ducks won after a really good game 46-27. No "thank God that's over", no scurrying retreat into my inner sanctuary, no obsessive rumination on "how could I have made such an abysmal choice of life partner?"
I wish I could claim credit for the change. But it is a gift, plain and simple. I feel like I've lost 40 lbs.
We'll see, maybe it's just a passing whim, an after-effect of the Ducks' victory (they were down by 9 at the half! MSU was their first serious challenge of the season!), the kind of thing that feels meaningful, but actually comes of a happy digestion and a good night's sleep.
But it feels like actual forgiveness.