Awe, forgiveness…a word of the day for any marriage vocabulary list. Married couples will tell you about how easy it is to forgive each other when you’re dating/engaged. How could he or she ever do anything wrong? They are perfect.
Fast forward a few years into marriage and forgiveness has now become a daily ritual. When the storms of life take their toll on your marriage, forgiveness is not your first reaction.
In my last post about how powerful words are in our marriage, I talked about how our communication MUST be rooted in love. A love that stems from understanding the simple and powerful message of the gospel; that grace and love were poured out for us through the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross.
’bout to be a throw down
So what happens when your words and or actions aren’t rooted in love? When everything starts to boil over and it’s been “one of those days” (or weeks) where work is not going how you planned; family drama seems to escalate and you’re receiving frustrating texts while at work…did we mention that you and your spouse haven’t had any real time to connect lately?
It’s a countdown to catastrophe – aaaaaand the 4- letter word exchange begins.
In between the shouting match, she’s in tears; hurt and frustrated. He’s annoyed and just wants to ignore “it” — maybe it will blow over. Somehow, the day has passed without any resolution or step in that direction.
As much as we try to avoid these moments, they are inevitable. Ryan and I definitely make it a point not to go to sleep angry (Ephesians 4:26) but again, we’re not perfect. Those sleepless nights are the worst. Waking up with the residue of yesterday’s arguments is heavy and draining. It steals all the energy and joy that you might have had for the day ahead.
Sometimes it’s messy
I can’t sit here and tell you the 3-simple steps to forgiveness. If you’ve ever experienced a real trial in your marriage (infidelity, addiction to pornography, maybe even divorce) then you understand that forgiveness is not always easy or simple, but it is so very necessary.
In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus tells us that in order to be forgiven of our sins, we must also forgive others (hint: spouses are included under “others”) But why? Why are we called to forgive?
Because when we said YES to Christ as our Savior, and accepted his beautiful gift of grace and forgiveness, he wiped our slate clean.
So how then can we truly accept what Christ has done and be unforgiving towards our spouse? We can’t, without sinning.
We must forgive because Christ has forgiven us. We must love because Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19). We must show compassion and mercy because Christ emulated these.
When we truly understand WHO Christ is and WHAT he did for us on the cross, then and only then can we live a life that reflects him.
It’s not about what we gain, it’s all about knowing Him better.
It’s not about me
In the past, I’ve often heard the message of forgiveness spoken within the framework of self-seeking freedom. Things like, “If you forgive others then you’re liberated from that person’s hold on your life!”
I agree that forgiving someone will bring liberation and freedom, but that’s not why we should do it. We forgive because Christ has forgiven us. It’s because of what HE’S done that our reaction towards our spouse on those trying and difficult days can only be one of forgiveness.