Lenten Devotional, March 23: By Larissa Fletcher

I lost my husband to cancer in 2016. I heard words like how “brave” I was and how “proud” people were of me…I felt the exact opposite. I felt like a fraud. The months leading up to his diagnosis were some of the toughest in our marriage. He stopped helping me out around the house and stopped helping with our infant – which made me resentful and angry. We argued daily. He claimed “I just don’t feel good.” I remember telling him, “I am tired of that excuse.” I told a coworker how frustrated I was and actually said the words, “I’m going to feel terrible if this turns out to be something serious.” A few days later we found out that his symptoms were due to cancer. I told John, “I’m sooooo sorry – I should have listened to you.” He told me, “You are forgiven – a thousand times over.” John forgave me, and yet over four years later I STILL struggle to forgive myself.

I am very capable of GIVING forgiveness to others. I don’t stay mad at other drivers when they cut me off in traffic. I assume that friends or coworkers must have something more pressing going on in their lives if one of them is short with me. I live with a preschooler and a toddler – so I’m well adept at saying, “I forgive you” and meaning it. So why do I struggle so much with forgiving myself?

I realize my actual struggle is with guilt. I am a physician by trade – so I felt like I should have connected the dots and figured out John had cancer. (As a physician I do realize that even IF I would have figured this out a few weeks earlier – the outcome would have still been the same.)  I was his wife so I should have realized his change in behavior was more than just an ongoing argument. 

I have found comfort in the verse Psalms 32:5 – “I acknowledge my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Christ died on the cross not only for my sin – but also for my GUILT. Jesus suffered and died so that I may LIVE.

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