Feature

Healing Begins with Forgiveness

A new light shines into a broken relationship

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Ah, Friday afternoon! Children filled the air with laughter as they bought ice cream cones. Cars accelerated out of parking lots and onto the freeway. The weekend brought a sense of relief for many, but not for Liliana.

Sadness coloured her sky grey, and laughter just irked her. She wished she could steal away thousands of miles—far from her present reality.

A Comforting Silence

Life wasn’t always like this for Liliana. She enjoyed laughter, friendship, a good husband and a beautiful son. However, a few months earlier, her teenage brother had been killed by a drunk driver who was cruising with a carload of friends. Seeing those who had taken her brother’s life walk freely in the streets deepened the wounds Liliana felt. The last time she saw them pass by her home, she yelled at them.

Pain caused her to grasp for life and yet that same pain estranged her from it. Slowly, Liliana lost all interest in playing with Aaron, her three-year-old son. Adding guilt to sorrow, her husband, Julio, told her they should consider a divorce. Liliana was wasting away.

One Friday afternoon, she found a small group of Christians meeting with her mother-in-law in the living room. Christianity had once seemed like a viable option, but now Liliana couldn’t get away from it fast enough. She blindly passed by them and escaped upstairs.

Liliana sank silently onto her bed. But then she heard a knock at the door. “Can I come in?” one of the women asked. Liliana could barely nod. “Tell me about your day,” the stranger said.

Hesitantly, Liliana pierced the silence and told her bleak story. She despised the teenagers who had taken her brother’s life. He was a young man full of promise and loved áá greatly by all. Liliana knew deep down that she needed to forgive, but she was light years away from wanting to.

Liliana and her new Christian acquaintance sat quietly, embracing the stillness. Nothing was said, no arguments were offered, no “we’ll have to pray about that”—just pure, unbroken silence.

In the Open

A week later CETA (the C&MA seminary in Mexico City) offered a retreat and seminar on worship and brokenness for seminary students and church leaders. Although Julio and Liliana rarely attended church, a Christian friend invited them. As the students gathered to seek God amid their sorrow, Julio and Liliana were deeply moved. During a small group, they meditated on Psalm 32: “When I kept silent, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long…Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover my iniquity…You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

Julio and Liliana broke their silence and confessed their sins to God. By trading in their sorrow and bitterness, they found refuge and hope. While church leaders embraced their own brokenness, Julio and Liliana felt God’s overwhelming power in a new way as they were washed clean. They were just beginning to receive God’s deep, healing love.

During the weekend, Liliana began to see clearly that God had taken several steps toward her to show His love. All she had to do was take one step toward Him. She wondered, If Jesus could love her while she was so unlovable, could she love others with His love?

Liliana knew that if she were to fully embrace the Father’s love and forgiveness, she would have to release the hatred she felt for those who had killed her brother. The burden of not forgiving had been too heavy for her. Upon returning home, Liliana called the teens who had taken her brother’s life, apologized for her bitter attitude and offered forgiveness—no strings attached. Later that week, the boys visited her home.

God’s Overwhelming Love

The traumatized souls of Julio and Liliana still needed work. Yet they had seen that God’s love was sufficient to heal the hurt and neglect in their marriage. If God could help Julio and Liliana love those teenage boys, surely He would do the same in their relationship.

Soon after receiving Jesus, Julio and Liliana were invited by Canadian C&MA missionaries Kurt and Kim Peters to a Marriage Encounter weekend. Mexico, a country renowned for family values, is home to many wounded marriages. By taking time for “48 hours of love,” many husbands and wives are being healed and transformed. That weekend, a nurturing friendship between Liliana and Julio and the Peterses was planted. The transformation that began in the hearts of Liliana and Julio was diligently cared for over the following months. New life and deliverance were found when they were no longer silent about their pain but broke open their hearts before the Lord.

Julio and Liliana’s lives are not perfect. Yet if you were to visit them, they would let you embrace their baby, Andrea, who was born within a year after Marriage Encounter. They would introduce you to married couples they led in a cell group—some who have received God’s love and others who are seeking. But most importantly, they would tell you a powerful story of God’s love and forgiveness.

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