Have you ever been desperate for restitution? To be paid back for your hurt?

I remember when I went on my first date after my divorce.  I thought I was going to poop my pants.  Thankfully, I did not.  The guy was LOVELY.  I still think that today.  He was really nice and we agreed to go on a second date.  He lived about 3 hours away from me but came into town every week for business.  

For our second date, we agreed to meet at a certain restaurant that was about a half an hour away from where I lived.  I couldn’t believe it but dinner was great. Two great dates in a row right out of the gate!  What are the chances???  We had such a good conversation and laughed a lot.

Afterwards, he walked me back to my car and that was when he went in for our first kiss.  It was disgusting.  I felt like he was eating a pickle and then licking up the juice drippings after.  It was just revolting.  I smiled and said good night while he told me that he would message me about our next date.



next date

never happened.

As I drove home that night, I bawled my face off.  Angry tears.  Everything I had gone through resurfaced with a vengeance.  I was so so mad at my ex. 

I was so mad for what he had done to me.  I was mad that now Summer and I had to go through life on our own.  I was mad that I had to venture back out into the dating scene because of him screwing everything up. 

I was mad that I had to go through one of the most disgusting kisses of my life because he had left our marriage and put me back up on the market.

Wow, I was so angry that night.  Talk about a trigger.  

The sad part is, those triggers don’t automatically stop.  I still have triggers today.  I’ve been reading Lysa Terkeurst’s book on Forgiveness and she is spot on when she says that forgiveness is a process.  

As you know, my ex husband went to jail at the end of our marriage and during his court proceedings the topic of restitution came up.  We were asked if we wanted him to have to pay restitution.  It was our decision.  

At the time my dad made a very profound statement to me.  We decided not to pursue restitution because as he said,

 “It only puts a ball and chain around him for the rest of his life.  It does no good.  It kills any chance for him to redeem himself and it kills any chance for him to be of any good to you or Summer.”

Huh.  This has stuck with me.  I think there is another side to restitution as well that isn’t as obvious.  Yes, the guilty party has the burden of repaying a debt but the victim also sits around waiting for the debt to be paid in full. 

And this could take years. 

Years of checking in and making sure he is sticking to the task, getting it done, paying the right amount.  Years of waiting until the debt is erased.  

I think unforgiveness operates with the same ball and chain.  If we hold back our forgiveness, yes we put a ball and chain around the guilty party until they give us a proper apology – whatever ‘proper’ means. 

But if we hold back our forgiveness we also put a ball and chain around ourselves.  I’ve been hurt and who knows what amount of restitution is equal to my amount of hurt?

Can you quantify hurt? 

Measure it? 

Find its equal?


I still struggle with my ex…with wanting sufficient emotional restitution but I have to look further and ask myself, “How often do I still demand that someone pays me restitution?”

If that is what I’m expecting, then all that I am doing then is waiting till ‘enough’ has been paid, whatever ‘enough’ is.  

I can think of a lost friendship I used to have and how sometimes I’m caught replaying a line she said to me one day.  I replay it over and over in my head.  I hold on to that and therefore I hold on to my forgiveness and delay my healing.  

I can think of another friendship where I push them away now and keep them at a distance.  I do this in repercussion for what I perceived to be them pushing me away at a certain point in my life. 

Instead of opening my heart to that friendship and giving grace for what they must have been going through, I lose out on a possible friendship rekindling because I’m paralyzed by the ball and chain holding me stagnant.

I can do this with my stepkids! In ways where I have felt snubbed or unloved by them, I can hold a grudge and keep them at arms’ distance instead of recognizing that they are fighting the same battle as me. 

I’m trying to live with the ‘stepmom’ title but they are also trying to live with the ‘stepkid’ title which can’t be an easy one either.  I could choose to forego arms’ distance in order to let them into my arms’ embrace, but boy that ball and chain is dragging my arms down.  

In all of these situations, if I’m honest, I’m waiting for some form of acknowledgement of their wrongdoings – real or imagined.  I am holding out until I receive adequate restitution. 

What good has that done? 

One friendship is completely non existent, the other is very distant.  The situation at home can lead to a cold household where I’m withdrawn and doing more damage than good.  

I feel like I’m back in the courthouse and the judge – aka God – is asking me if I’d like to pursue restitution.  What’s my answer going to be?

I know a man who has done similar offenses as my ex husband.  I also know this man hates dogs.  On the rare occasion that we are walking in his neighborhood, sometimes I encourage Rafa to pee or poo on his grass. 

I have nothing to do with this man.  We’ve actually never met.  I’m just giving him the pill of unforgiveness that I’m unable to give directly to my ex right now.  How embarrassing is that?

So in order to remove the ball and chain, I’ve made the deliberate choice to actually pray for this stranger man whenever I’m in his neighborhood.  I’ve also made the effort to get Rafa to pee/poo before or after we get to his lawn. 

The silly part is that this really is a forced, deliberate choice every single time.  My natural instinct is the old ball and chain method.

What would you tell the judge in the courtroom? 

Do you want to withhold forgiveness and demand restitution? 

Even if this means demanding it from people who never committed the offense to you in the first place?

How has your unforgiveness actually been a punishment to you?  How is it holding you back?  Can you ask God for the strength to pray for the person every time an angry or bitter thought comes? 

Can you even do something nice – even if it is super tiny – but just to go in the opposite direction of unforgiveness ON PURPOSE?

What steps can you take?  I think I’ve got some texts to send, some calls to make…some other yards to have Rafa poop on. 

As Jesus asked the invalid in John 5:6

“Do you want to get well?” 

Yes, Jesus, I really want to get well.  I want to be healed.

Maybe then He says,

“Would you like to pursue restitution?”

No, Jesus.  You didn’t give me a ball and chain and I don’t want to give someone else a ball and chain, let alone myself.  

Jesus, help us to continually choose to not pursue restitution.


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