I don’t want to belabor this point, but let me give an illustration from my own life.
When I rejoined Troy a month after his abrupt dismissal and departure, I was in a very vulnerable position emotionally. I had just been through a very difficult delivery of our second child—he almost didn’t make it—without Troy there. I had packed all of our stuff alone, said good-byes, left the home in Africa we had come to love and fellow missionaries who had become our family, and Troy had disclosed some of his sexual sin to me. I was very lonely. I felt like no one could possibly understand all of my losses and the one person who I had given my heart to had let me down in a big way. All I really wanted was for Troy to love me again and for everything to be okay between us. If our marriage could be saved, I felt like life could go on. I didn’t know if I could make it without Troy.
So, my first response to the man who had by his actions ended my missionary career, exposed me to sexually transmitted diseases, cared more for himself than me or our children, damaged the good name of God and the reputation of our mission—my first response was to wrap my arms around him and to say, “I love you. I forgive you. Everything will be okay.”
Three weeks later when I began to feel some of the anger for all of the losses, I exploded at Troy. His response to me was, “You said you had forgiven me. It’s not fair for you to keep bringing up the past!” The problem was that I had not even dealt with the past. It was a very hurtful and confusing time for both of us. I realized then that I had “forgiven” too soon. The forgiveness I had offered Troy really wasn’t true forgiveness. It was an attempt on my part to manipulate his feelings and emotions so that he would meet my need for love. I had not truly released him from the debt he owed me. I didn’t even truly understand what the debt was.
–Melissa Haas, The Journey: Book One