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Why Does Doing the Right Thing Feel Like Punishment?

Today is more a stream of consciousness than my usual polished posts. I've been on the struggle bus the past few weeks, and my soul and spirit have been battling each other. I wrote the other day about my spirit winning out over my soul, and the war has been raging ever since I hit "publish." I've been trying to do what is right--and have been most of my life--but right now, doing what's right feels much more like punishment than any kind of reward.

My college boyfriend of a year and a half cheated on me with my best friend and roommate. Over the years when I have told that story, one question always comes up: "did you beat her up?" The answer is, no, I didn’t. I felt like it. I wanted to. But ultimately, what would beating her up have done? It wouldn't have made him love me again. It wouldn't have taken away the betrayal. It wouldn't have healed my heart. I’m sure I could’ve handled that whole situation better than what I did, but all in all, I tried to do the right thing. I didn't respond how the world would have responded--I just walked away.

My first marriage was rocky from the beginning. A year or so in, I had resigned myself to living with that man and raising his children. I chose to forgive him for the horrific things he daily said and did. There were indeed several times that I retaliated out of hurt and anger, and I can own those words and actions. But once again, I chose not to treat him how he had treated me. There were times I remember praying and repeating under my breath, "I forgive him; this is my life; I can do this; God help me." It's no way to live in a marriage, but I believe in marriage. I didn't want to give up--I wanted to follow scripture and do the right thing according to the Bible. I could have been justified if I had thrown him under a bus--figuratively and literally. Although I had many missteps in that marriage and subsequent co-parenting years, I still try daily to make the right choices concerning him and the future of our girls.

The theme of doing what was right continued through my second marriage. This marriage was nothing like the first, but it unraveled before I even realized it was frayed. He just gave up on the marriage. At one point I told him that it didn't matter if I were the perfect wife or not--that unless he was willing to work on our marriage, it didn't matter what I did. He said, "You're right. I don't want to work on it." He walked away from our marriage with no biblical reason for leaving. He said he just didn't want to be married to me anymore. He could give no reason other than "It just didn't work out." When I told him it was a sin for him to abandon his wife like this, he looked to the sky and said, "Ok, God. I'm about to sin by divorcing Lindsey. So please forgive me. I'm sorry." I looked at him in disbelieving horror. He turned to me and said, "See? God forgave me. That's how Christianity works, Lindsey." I knew I had no choice but to let him walk. I stepped aside, and I got on my knees to pray that God would change his mind and heart. I knew there was nothing I could ever say to change his mind--it would have to be God.

Every time, I’ve chosen forgiveness. Every time, I've chosen to do what God is leading me to do. I've set aside my pride; I've set aside my own desires. I've chosen not to lash out in anger; I've chosen not to scream in someone's face. I've taken up my cross daily, and it's getting so tiresome. It's starting to feel like I'm carrying a burden when I look around at others who leave their crosses laying on the ground.

Every time I’ve forgiven someone who has hurt me so deeply, I know cerebrally it’s the right thing. But my heart has a hard time catching up to my brain. Take for instance now. There’s a man I’ve been friends with for several years, and I would really like to see if the timing is finally right for us to be a couple. But God has emphatically reminded me over and over that I’m still legally married, and it would be a sin. So I push it out of my mind every time his name comes up on my Facebook newsfeed. Meanwhile, my estranged husband is taking vacations and posting it to Facebook with his new girlfriend. I spent the majority of the summer heartbroken and despondent, while he openly mocked God and His forgiveness for walking away from his wife. Yet he's supposedly happily in a new relationship.

I know God gives promises, I know there are rewards. This is one of those times where reality and feelings are not aligned, and I'm having a hard time getting my feelings aligned to the Truth. Most of the time when I write blog posts, I feel like God has given me some answers to share. But I have no answers today. Only questions. Because right now, it feels like doing the right thing is a punishment.


  1. Dear one thankyou for sharing a part of your journey please dont be disheartened by the trials of life you sound to be a empathetic soul every individual is on their own journey even when we are in the union of marrige we are trialed through love and its pain thats the glory of love the pain that makes us grow know that the cross you carry is the strength of your compassion of understanding of forgiveness that your conscience of your soul is clear that you have the faith of the Divine creater the lord works in mystery ways we are all beings of energy may your light continue to shine through your trials of life and may the beauty of acceptance be upon you

    1. Thank you for your words of encouragement! It's definitely been a journey, and I couldn't have done it without the Lord. I'm in hopes that my life can be an inspiration to others now.


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